I once completed a strength and conditioning course with James Marshall. I demonstrated a warm-up I had been using for a very long time within my karate classes. It was ripped to pieces…. And rightly so!

I have been involved in lengthy useless warm-ups for years. Some of which lasted up to one hour achieving little more than making people tired. My recent involvement in academy football has allowed me to look in detail at the FIFA 11+ programme, a warm-up intervention for injury prevention. This highlighted how far behind karate is with the development of its training, demonstrating a need to change and not just continue to do something because “that’s what we did”. It’s great to see a sport doing something right so early on and I’d like to hope more sports and coaches will try to keep up.

Try to begin with basic movements, traveling forwards, backwards and sideways; we don’t just go forwards in sport. Follow this with dynamic movements, then balance, strength and plyometric movements relevant to your sport. Include acceleration and deceleration or landing practice. Conclude with specific skills at the speed they will be completed during training and competition.

Things To Remember

  • Dynamic stretching

Static stretching before performance is not beneficial and may inhibit maximal force production. This is not saying static stretching does not have its place, just that its place is not during a warm-up. Increase mobility with movements through range for each muscle group,

  • Mimic Sports Requirements and movements

If your sport doesn’t go in a straight line then neither should your warm-up. Including changes in direction and cutting movement if your sport requires them. If lateral movement is involved in your sport ensure your warm-up includes it

  • Increase Intensity Gradually

Start simple with jogging and basic movements, progress to dynamic stretches, then balance, strength and plyometric exercises. Finish with high intensity skill practice.

  • Activate not annihilate

A warm-up should focus on recruiting muscles not act as a training session for them. Warm-ups can often spend too much time completing plyometric exercises or last so long and with no recovery that they almost become an endurance training session. Not the job of the warm up!! 6-15 reps of strength or plyometric exercises and one set is usually sufficient in your warm-up. If further work on a fitness element is required add it to strength and conditioning training sessions.

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