Warm-up Routine for Every Sport

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When one of the most renowned and respected strength coaches in the nation says static stretching (the typical touch your toes and hold stretching) has no place in a warm-up, it's time to listen to the call for revolution.

"Ever wonder why you felt sluggish for that big game or why you didn't run your best 40-yard dash at that one combine?" asks Vern Gambetta of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. "Chances are your muscles were not properly warmed up because you probably incorporated static stretching extensively in your pre-game or pre-testing warm-up."

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By: Scott Joseph

When one of the most renowned and respected strength coaches in the nation says static stretching (the typical touch your toes and hold stretching) has no place in a warm-up, it's time to listen to the call for revolution.

"Ever wonder why you felt sluggish for that big game or why you didn't run your best 40-yard dash at that one combine?" asks Vern Gambetta of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. "Chances are your muscles were not properly warmed up because you probably incorporated static stretching extensively in your pre-game or pre-testing warm-up."

"Static stretching causes fatigue, causes tiredness, decreases coordination and makes you relaxed," Gambetta explains. "There is an inordinate emphasis placed on static flexibility and measuring static flexibility, which tons of experience and studies have shown has no correlation to movement and performance."

He notes, "Some of the fastest and most explosive athletes that I have worked with have been 'tight.' Conversely, some of the most often injured athletes were the individuals who were most 'flexible' in the conventional sense."

Gambetta strongly believes in training the complete athlete, and he has trained some of the world's top athletes and teams in many sports. He also has presented numerous lectures, seminars and clinics, earning him a place on the nation's short list of elite performance coaches. So does he believe that flexibility is at all important to peak athletic performance? Of course, he says—but the key is how flexibility is developed and where it fits into a structured training program.

"In the warm-up, you want to stimulate your muscles and activate your nervous system for physical activity," he says. "People confuse stretching with warm-up. Stretching does not warm you up. Consequently, you want to complete an active warm-up prior to any activity."

What is an active warm-up?
Gambetta provides the following active warm-up for you to implement into your training program. Go ahead. Give it a try and improve your athletic performance in a revolutionary way.

The Revolutionary Gambetta Method

The workout begins with the warm-up. It sets the tempo for the workout to follow and is the bridge from normal daily activities to actual training.

Physically, the main goal is neural activation (priming your muscles and nervous system for activity)—and from the mental side of things, the warm-up should almost be a ritual. This warm-up is "active," not continuous (meaning rest between exercises and sets), and should build progressively in intensity into the workout. It emphasizes mobility, not static flexibility. Flexibility should be a separate training unit, preferably after the workout.

ACTIVE MULTI-STAGE WARM-UP

 

Mini-Band Routine (Band above ankles)

Side Step—Get in an athletic position (feet shoulder-hip width apart, 1/4 squat, back flat and 45° torso angle). Step sideways, first to the right and then to left. Perform 20 steps to each side.

Walk—Forward/Back—In the described athletic position, walk forward and backwards. Perform 20 steps each way.

Carioca—In the described athletic position, carioca for 20 steps to each side. To perform the carioca movement, face as if you were to side step, then, step with your left leg in front of your body. Then, step with your right leg to the side. Then, step with your left leg behind your body and continue this pattern.

Monster Walk—In the described athletic position, rotate your legs out-ward and forward in large strides for 20 steps.

Balance & Stability Single Leg Squat—(Hold each position for five counts)

Straight Ahead—Start standing on one leg, squat down to a 1/4 squat position. The free (non-supporting) leg is extended straight ahead.

Side—Start standing on one leg, squat down to a 1/4 squat position. The free leg is extended out to the side.

Rotation—Start standing on one leg, squat down to a 1/4 squat position. Rotate the free leg from the straight ahead position to the side position, and back.

Balance & Stability Balance shift—(Hold each position for 10 counts)

Balance Shift Starting Position

Forward—Start in the athletic position (feet shoulder-hip width apart, 1/4 squat, back flat and 45-degree torso angle) and hop forward onto your right foot. Complete with both the left and right foot. Cover as much ground as possible with each hop, then hold for 10 counts.

Side—Start in the athletic position and hop sidewise onto your right foot. Complete with both the left and right foot. Cover as much ground as possible with each hop, then hold for 10 counts.

Back—Start in the athletic position and hop backward onto your left foot. Complete with both the left and right foot. Cover as much ground as possible with each hop, then hold for 10 counts.

Basic Core—Walking Forward & Back (3 Kg Med Ball)

Wide Rotation x 20 steps—With the medicine ball held out extended from the waist, rotate as far as possible to the right, making sure the movement begins from the waist and not the arms, and then rotate to the left as far as possible.

Tight Rotation x 20 steps—With the medicine ball held directly in front of the navel, rotate as far as possible to the right, making sure the movement begins from the waist and not the arms, and then rotate to the left as far as possible.

Side to Side x 20 steps—With the medicine ball held out extended from the waist, move the ball from hip to hip, making sure the movement begins from the waist.

Chop to Knee x 20 steps—With the medicine ball held overhead and off to one side, move the ball in a chopping direction down and across the body to the opposite knee. Remember that the movement begins with the contracting, rotating and bending of the abdominals, not by the swinging of the arms.

Figure 8 x 20 steps—With the medicine ball held overhead and off to one side, move the ball in a chopping direction down and across the body to the opposite knee. Then move the ball up to the overhead position to the opposite side, and move the ball in a chopping direction down and across the body to the opposite knee. Finish by bringing the ball back up to the starting position.

Multi-Dimensional Stretch

Lunge & Reach Series—(2 reps in each plane—Forward/Side/Rotational)

Reach Up—All in one motion, lunge forward and reach up with both arms. Perform with both right and left leg. Lunge to the side and reach up with both arms (right and left). Keep both toes pointed forward. Rotational lunge and reach up with both arms (right and left). To perform the rotational lunge with the right foot, place the left foot at 12 o'clock, and then lunge out with the right foot at 5 o'clock.

Reach Out & Down—All in one motion, lunge forward and reach out and down with both arms. Perform with both right and left leg. Lunge to the side and reach out and down with both arms (right and left). Keep both toes pointed forward. Rotational lunge and reach out and down with both arms (right and left). To perform the rotational lunge with the right foot, place the left foot at 12 o'clock, and then lunge out with the right foot at 5 o'clock.

Reach Across—All in one motion, lunge forward and reach across your body with both arms. Perform with both right and left leg. Lunge to the side and reach across your body with both arms (right and left). Keep both toes pointed forward. Rotational lunge and across your body with both arms (right and left). To perform the rotational lunge with the right foot, place the left foot at 12 o'clock, and then lunge out with the right foot at 5 o'clock.

Crawls

Jack Knife Crawl x 5—Get down into a push-up position and walk your feet towards your hands. Then walk your hands forward, so that you are again in a push-up position, and repeat the crawl.

Creepy Crawl x 5—Get down into a push-up position and lunge forward with your right leg. Make sure that your knee is outside of the elbow and your left leg is in line with the hip. Now crawl forward into a push-up position and lunge forward with your left leg. Make sure, again, that your knee is outside of the elbow and your left leg is in line with the hip, and repeat.

Hip Mobility (Five Hurdles)

Hurdle Walks (Over)—Stand next to the hurdles, facing to the side. Step over the first hurdle with your left leg, and trail leg with your right. Go through all the hurdles performing this motion. Then, face to the other side and lead step over with your right leg and trail leg with your left.

Hurdle Walks (Under)—Stand next to the hurdles, facing to the side and bend down at the hips, knees and ankles. Keep your back tight/flat and your heels on the ground. Now, walk underneath all the hurdles. Go through all the hurdles facing to both sides.

Active Stretch (No more than two minutes)

Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, and relax the muscle. Perform 3-5 sets of the following stretches.

Calf—Stand with your hands against a wall, moving one leg back approximately two feet. With the heel of the back leg on the ground, lean slightly forward. Repeat with both legs.

Hamstrings—Lie down on your back, pulling one of your legs to your head and keeping both your legs straight. Repeat with both legs.

Psoas—Get in a perfect lunge position (forward leg's thigh parallel to ground, toes pointed forward, back flat, 45° torso angle, forward leg's shin perpendicular to the floor) with your back knee on the ground. Lean slightly forward. Repeat with both legs.

Lats—Stand with feet shoulder-hip width apart. Raise one arm up towards the ceiling. With the other arm, grab the raised arm above the elbow and lean with your torso to the opposite side of the raised arm. Repeat with both arms.

Pecs—Stand in a corner with you arms bent and pressed against the adjoining walls. Each palm, forearm and elbow is against a wall. Each arm should be approximately a foot and a half away from the point where the two walls intersect. Now lean/walk forward until you feel a stretch in your pecs.

Coordination (All @ 30 meters x 2)

Skip

Crossover Skip—Crossover with your knees while skipping

Side Step / Carioca Backward Run / High Skip

High Skip with Rotation—Rotate towards the knee that is elevated

Accelerations

4 - 6 x 30 meters—Gradually accelerate for 30 meters. Achieve peak speed at approximately the 20-25 meter mark.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRETCHING | WARMUP