We all know its safer to warm-up, but there remains the fact that we can get a lot of force production and/or force absorption stimuli out of these if we go in to them with a grander goal than just “warming up”.
In my mind, I’m specifically referencing the Olympic lifts (and their variations), as this is a trend I have seen with my clients. Here’s what we can really coax out of these sets:
1. Technique. We can reinforce good technique by focusing on performing the exercise exactly as we would with the heavier work-set weight. We cue “Jump, shrug, front squat” for hang clean or “Jump, shrug, punch up towards the ceiling” for the snatch. We want the warm-up sets to look to same technique-wise just faster. It ends up being additional reps of good technique or extra practice to keep moving toward exercise proficiency.
2. Power production. Power production is power training, and though we are ultimately working up towards heavier sets, we can get some power training stimuli from these warm-up sets. However due to their weight, maybe they fall more on the light-implement power spectrum (more akin to med ball throws) even though the weight used is somewhere between med ball and working-set weight. Regardless of the weight, the goal is to explode.
3. Practice like you play. Its easier to take the warm-up sets a little slower or with less effort since the weight used doesn’t require a lot of effort, but I caution that with the athletic quote “practice like you play”. To add another: “No plays off”. Regardless of whether the weight feels relatively heavy/normal/light compared to what the athlete is used to, its always possible to give 100% effort. Coaches look at for these intangibles too — are you always hard working? Do you always give your top effort? Do you ease up when given some slack?
So the take away here is to become aware of the potential benefits of warm-up sets beyond just a method to safely bridge the gap from the warm-up/speed and plyometric portion of the program to the weighted strength & power portion. Keep in mind that you can still work on perfecting technique, exploding powerfully, and showing that you’re serious about getting the most out of your training program.
Until next week!