Now, we need to talk about our warm-ups. Warm-ups are arguably the most important part of our class work. Yes, warm muscles = more elastic muscles – we all know (or should know) that by now – but the warm-up goes a bit beyond that. It involves muscles, tendons, ligaments, respiration, blood flow, and, probably most important, your central nervous system (CNS). Without warming-up – without waking-up your CNS – you’re going to lack focus, which will lead to lack of form, which will lead to either wasted effort due to a lack of power (i.e., you won’t get stronger or fitter) or, at worst, injury. Yes, sometimes the warm-ups are hard, and sometimes they’re long, but they’re calculated to perform a task specifically geared towards the workout of the day. The start to Thursday’s class was a good example.
After raising everyone’s temperature with a few standard movements (read “squats”!), class then made sure that their collective CNS was awake and firing by performing 5 rounds of 2 seated box jumps.
Remember, explosive movements, such as plyometrics and both Olympic lifts, have serious carryover to your ability to recruit motor units/muscle fibers and improve their explosive power, thus improving your ability to express power quickly (known as the ‘rate of force development’ or RFD). As your RFD improves, your ability to recruit motor units/muscles fibers becomes more neurologically efficient. So, yes, we can practice plyometrics (such as seated box jumps & depth jumps) or Olympic lifting (cleans, jerks, and snatches) to help build our RFD capacity; however, we can also use one to help prepare for the other, thus maximizing our motor recruitment ability. Witness the second part of Thursday night’s class: