Warming-up is an often neglected task despite it's apparent benefits. I had the pleasure of preparing a warm-up schedule for the Squamish Titans this past week. Here's a bit of a summary for those of you who are swimmers, and a refresher for the Titans.
1. All training should be goal-oriented, whether you're prepping for a triathlon or looking to maintain or improve your fitness.
2. Goal-oriented training provides a good platform to understand your weak-links.
3. Weak-links are best understood by doing a baseline test that encompasses all aspects of swimming, including your mobility and stability issues.
4. An effective warm-up helps prime your system by addressing your mobility and stability issues. It also helps by getting your heart, muscles, joints, and tissues ready for high intensity activity. In essence, it can be a great tool to help you avoid injury.
5. Work through the exercises bellow to understand your weak links. If one side feels stiffer than the other, focus on that side. If you know you have a hard time breathing to the left, make sure to work on the exercises that help with left rotation. If you know you have poor shoulder blade control, make sure to exercise your stabilizers.
1. Neck rotation
2. Mid-back rotation
3. Shoulder mobility
4. Hip mobility
Sets and reps for each of these exercises will depend on what your body will take. Here are a couple of rules to follow when you're trying to figure out how far you should go:
1. When you're working on mobility, your breath can really help to get you where you need to be. If you find yourself holding your breath it's your cue to back away - you're no longer getting any benefit.
2. Quality over quantity! If you lose form after 5 reps stop the exercise and take a rest. Try it again once you've recovered and do your very best to stay in good form.
3. The old adage "No pain, no gain!" is completely false. Exercising should NEVER be a painful experience. If you get pain give it up and move on to the next exercise. Seek the help of a professional if you haven't already.
These exercises should give you an idea of where to start with your warm-up. They were chosen for their applicability to most swimmers. You may already have exercises that are currently addressing your weak links. For example, you may know to work on hamstring mobility before hopping into the pool. Keep doing it! Find what works for you.
Once you've completed the basics get into the pool and start warming-up your whole system. The first 10 minutes should be focused on technique! Go slow and focus on your weak links. If you have a hard time reaching in freestyle, focus on your reach. If your breathing is sloppy to the right, focus on breathing to the right. Your warm-up has to be purposeful with a lot of brain power dedicated to the process. Enjoy it and find your rhythm.
Finally, ease into your session and get ready to enjoy the feeling of your body ready to train!