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The Blue Collar Warmup


The Blue Collar Warmup

My name is Adam Kuehl, I have been a competitive elite athlete (discus thrower) for several years and am enjoying my career as a Strength & Conditioning coach currently at Colorado State University.  I have been fortunate to train and learn under some well-respected coaches in the strength and throwing realms of the world. In the throwing society I need to thank Carter, Frazier, Sevin, Pfaff, Hafsteinsson and my High School coach Charlie Best. In the strength coaches society I would like to thank many awesome people at Olympic Training Center, Athlete’s Performance Institute, University of Arizona, University of Oklahoma and ultimately the Colorado State coaches for providing me with an opportunity to learn and grow in this awesome profession.

Adam Kuehl had an illustrious career as a thrower before becoming the strength coach at Colorado State University

Adam Kuehl had an illustrious career as a thrower before becoming the strength coach at Colorado State University

Each aspect of the warmup below I have learned or come across at different times in my life. Each of these phases is important however it should be noted that some will be more important than others based on the individual or team. This is a solid and simple warmup protocol that can set your body and mind up for an awesome lift. Most experienced coaches and athletes have an idea of what works for them. I’ve noticed as a coach and athlete, that most of these aspects are shared and very similar. Ultimately we want to prepare ourselves to be primed and ready to rage in the pumpatorium. No one wants to start a raging session slow, flat and depressed. Do yourself a favor, check out these ideas, try it out, and ask yourself if you feel ready to ROCK.

This may not apply to all athletes, but training time is a large factor when assessing how your body “feels”. An individual is most likely going to feel much better (“awake!”) when lifting at 2pm as opposed to 6am. As the coach the warmup gives me valuable time to assess the athlete. I can use this time to gather the feelings of the group; I’m constantly asking “how are we feeling?”, “are we tight? Are we Awake?!” The answers to these questions give me the answer to how much intensity I will introduce during the warmup.  Going through this warmup in its entirety takes around 12 minutes once you have everything clicking. It is a crucial part of our training session as it addresses several weaknesses and gives you time to “GET YOUR MIND RIGHT.”

I utilize 6 different aspects during the warmup:

Self-Myofascial Release (Foam Roller, Peanut, Lacrosse/Baseball)

Mini-Band Work (Glute Activation, some Shoulder work dependent upon Team)

Core Work / Mobility (Cueing up our Breathing Patterns, and opening up some problem areas)

Dynamic Movements (Start lengthening the muscles, priming the body)

Skill / Technical Prep Work (Work on some technical aspects of jumping, sprints, COD)

CNS Stimulator (Get the brain and body connected and firing! And the Heart Rate rising!)


During my time at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, we spent a lot of time recovering; the foam roller was a very close friend due to the high training and throwing volumes I treat pre-workout foam rolling a little bit different then my post-workout recovery work. Before a workout I want to make several passes through the adhesions I find on my problem areas. As you work on yourself or your teams, make sure you take some time to think about what they (you) REALLY need. Remember, you could spend 30 minutes just rolling around finding every muscle that “bothers” you. Take 5-7 of your problem areas, address them and get your mind right for the day’s work ahead. These are a few that would be the best bang for your buck: Glutes, IT Band, Adductors, Hip Flexor/Quads and Lats. A pre-workout rolling plan would take each of those muscle groups; make about 20-30 passes over each and move on. If you feel a brutal adhesion (a “knot” for the knuckleheads) take some smaller passes directly over it. The time to let the muscle relax over the roller is during a recovery lift, NOT before you are about to clean 300 pounds for reps.

Foam Rolling and other Self Myofascial Release techniques are a critical part of an effective warmup


Mini-Band work should be a fundamental in everyone’s warmup protocol. A weak Glute Med / Max directly affects the ability to decelerate the body. A large majority of non-contact ACL and knee ligament damage comes from decelerating the body. Whether this deceleration is from change of direction or the landing of a jump, it does not matter.  You can cue up “keep your knees out” as much as you want, but if the athlete doesn’t know how to control or activate that glute, they will be lost. As a coach, or athlete it is your responsibly to address that issue head on. What better way to tackle the issue than throwing some tight bands around the knees or ankles, or BOTH if you are feeling froggy and want to leap! During Mini-band work I’ll do 2 sets of a series of external hip rotations, some monster walking, either linear or lateral. Squatting with bands is another surefire way to expose the athlete to a “transfer of training”. The bands are pulling the knees in; you have to tell your body to drive them out, hence strengthening glute medius and even a little maximus. These are the same cues you should be thinking about when you are crushing squats with 500 pounds on your back.  Pick 2-3 exercises and hammer out 10 reps each leg or each exercise. (Ex: 10 external rotations, 10 steps forward each leg, 10 steps backward and 10 squats)


I’m using my golfers as a prime example in my mobility and core work. Here is a vital time to start assessing some problem areas that might creep up during the workout. With the golf team I’m going to target the hip and shoulder pretty intensely. Some form of T-spine rotations, Flexion and Extension of the spine, hip adduction and abduction.  I won’t dive into diaphragmatic breathing too much as that is a whole separate article. However, during core work take some time to do some pelvic tilts, forearm planks and push-planks. Cue up the activation of the core musculature. The core is not just abs, but shoulder to knee. The core needs to be lit up and solidified before we can start throwing around weight. Feel the air pull into your stomach, see it fill up, breathe out slowly and purposely!


The dynamic movements are a dime a dozen. A simple Google search can find you dozens of different exercises and movements that help lengthen the prime movers of the body. I’ve been in environments where I had a set of hurdles and open space. Athletes would do some form hurdle mobility and a dynamic walk back. In my situation now, it is all dynamic movements. Remember, variations of dynamic movements can also be performed in-place. Usually the in-place movements are a starting point for athlete that is new to the program, but those movements can be important if you are faced with space and equipment limitations. Dynamic movements should be comprised of the entire body. Usually any type of lunge is awesome, be creative and add in some rotary aspects to the lunge (maybe even some T-spine mobility!). Backwards, forwards and sideways the lunge is very versatile. Walking or in-place stretches of the quad, glute and hip flexors. The bottom line: pick 6-8 of your favorite exercises and hit 5 repetitions each limb or 10 total. If you have a problem area, obviously bust out a few more reps to make sure you FEEL good.


Now that our body is feeling pretty darn good, we need to start waking up the brain a little bit. Our technical prep work starts to teach the athlete about the mechanics of basic athletic movements. I love the drop squat. Start up on the toes and DROP. Teach your athletes (or yourself) the “athletic position”. Knees slightly flexed, feet flat and slightly wider than hip width , chin up, face forward, shoulders over the knees and arms slightly flexed to the sides. In this position you should be able to explode violently in any direction necessary. Like I said, up on the toes, and then DROP into the athletic position. From here I can say jump again, or sprint or shuffle, really anything goes. But remember, all exercises have a progression. Start out basic, become comfortable and quick in the drop squat and start to progress to a more difficult level. (IE: add in a jump, hop, and land on one leg) 2-3 sets of 5 repetitions per jump will do the trick just fine. Remember, this is a WARMUP for the lift.


Lastly is the Brain Blasting CNS, Thermogenic, heart rate rising and testosterone pumping stimulator session. While throwing for the University of Arizona, dynamic movements and MB work was crucial in priming my body for the ballistic movements I would perform on a daily basis. At this point I like to utilize med balls if I have a big upper body day ahead, or I’m pulling out some boxes to leap onto to prime my body for my Olympic Lifts or lower body work. This is a call to action for every fast twitch muscle in the body. My favorites are the Dynamax Med balls for slamming and throwing. Treat this portion as almost the finisher to your warmup. The point is to fine tune that full body prime, but not to the point that it takes away from your explosive or primary strength lift. If we are talking about box jumps, and the highest you can jump on is 42”, then we are going to use a 30-32” box. Same as everything, PROGRESS. Don’t start out with Depth to Reactive Hurdle Hops. If you aren’t used to it, start off simple, box jumps for 3 sets of 3 repetitions. For the MB work, I’m looking at a series of athletic stance MB Slams for 5 reps, Chest Throws for 5 reps and 3 Box Jumps. Hit up that circuit 3 times through with as much fury is necessary to get your Fast Twitch fibers yearning for more weight and more speed. Then take your well-oiled, finely tuned athletic machine over to the platform or rack and ENGAGE RAGE.

Thanks to Chad and the Juggernaut Family for this opportunity-

Merry Christmas



Adam Kuehl has worked with a variety of athletes in football, track and field, baseball and golf at the University of Arizona, University of Oklahoma. He is now an assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Colorado State University. He Adam was a 5-Time All-American at the University of Arizona while competing in the shot-put (x2) and discus (x3). He has thrown 63’9 in the Shot-put and 213’2 in the discus. He was the alternate to the 2008 USA Olympic Team in the discus and was the alternate to the 2005 and 2007 World Championships Teams placing 4th both times. He has been ranked top 25 in the world 4 different years.  Adam uses his knowledge and experience to motivate his athletes and transform them into machines of athletic success.  
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One Response to “The Blue Collar Warmup”

December 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm, Marcelino Martinez said:

Adam, thank you for sharing this information. I am an employee and Colorado State University and a life long Ram fan! GO RAMS!


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