Movement

Movement Prep: Tips To Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness. Part 1


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For those who are confident in the movements they will be training, the warm-up is pretty simple – some dynamic drills to get the blood flowing, and then on to the bar.

For others, the warm-up phase is a time where they are truly trying to improve movement patterns through various mobility, stability, and movement patterning strategies.  While these things can be very effective, they can also be time consuming and boring.   What tends to happen is the athlete starts performing half-assed “corrective” exercises, just to get it done.   Corrective exercise must be performed correctly, or it loses any and all benefit.

Below are two tips to decrease the monotony, boredom, and time spent on a dedicated movement prep phase, while still reaping the benefits.    This will be an endless multi-part series.

  1. Circuits

Typically, when prescribing a new drill to someone, I will give a certain number of reps and sets, and have them perform all of them, before moving on to the next drill.  I want them performing the sets of this novel drill all at once, so that they can completely focus on the subtle cues given, and learn.

However, when the athlete becomes familiar and comfortable with the new drill (1-2 weeks in), I actually tend to see a downswing in quality, as the athlete “turns the brain off” during the exercise, and it becomes mindless and automatic.  This diminishes the benefit. To mitigate this, I will begin prescribing circuits relating to the movement pattern in question.  This is where Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) can be a very effective and helpful tool.   Some short bouts of SMR can help to give us that short-term mobility improvement and enhance the benefits of whatever drill is prescribed.

Roll through one set of each exercise for a prescribed number of rounds (usually 2-4 rounds).  THIS IS NOT A WOD.  The point is not to rush through things, but simply to break up the monotony and maximize the amount of quality work.   The concept of focusing on each rep, so that the drills act as teaching tools for position, still applies.

Examples of squat prep circuits:

A.

90-90 Hip Lift – 5 breaths

Foam Roll/Lacrosse Ball to glutes & TFL – no more than 30 total seconds

Static Clam Holds – 5 breaths

B.

Quadruped Rocking – 6-8 reps or breaths in a static position

SMR to calf or ankle mobilization – no more than 30 total seconds

Counter-Balance squat – 5 reps

Quadruped Rocking with Arm Lifts – 5 lifts each side

Foam roll upper back and lats – no more than 30 seconds

Overhead squat Correction Drill – 5 reps

Examples of Deadlift Circuits

A.

Supine Single Leg Hinge – 5 reps each side

SMR to erectors and hamstrings – no more than 30 seconds

Tall kneeling holds (for hip lockout) – static 5 breaths

Single leg bridge – static holds for 5 breaths each side

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqoCa2blH1o (4:30 mark)

SMR to hip flexors and erectors – no more than 30 seconds

Single Leg Hinge Holds – 10 seconds each side

Examples of Shoulder Circuits

A.

Supine Hip Lift with Arm Movement – 8-10 reps each side

SMR to upper back and lats – no more than 30 seconds

T-Pushup – 6 total reps

B.

Rockback Breathing – 5 breaths

SMR to upper back and lats – no more than 30 seconds

Wall Slides – 5 reps

The above are simply examples.  So pick whatever exercises you know and love, and group them to fit the training session at hand.  This is a universal concept for any activity, be it rotational athletes, runners, etc.  Both my YouTube channel and the Darkside Strength’s YouTube channel will give you many options as far as exercise selection.

These types of low-level circuits are also great choices for an “active rest” day.

  1.  Rest Periods

Tip number 2 is in regards to the rest periods that are present during the training session.  This is as you’re beginning your barbell (or whatever implement you are training with) sets.  Rest periods, that are often used to sit around, text, check Instagram, etc, are a perfect time to stick in a drill or quick SMR technique, in order to grease the groove of the pattern you are working and to improve the quality of the next set.  This differs from Tip #1, as I am not prescribing an entire circuit in between sets; but rather one thing.  For example, if you are pressing, perhaps you SMR the lats, pecs, and/or tspine in between sets, to facilitate better positioning.  This is a fantastic way to incorporate SMR because you get to use the benefits immediately, which increases the chances that they will stick.   Or maybe you hit some wall slides.  For the squat, any one drill or SMR technique mentioned above would work.

An important point here for Tip #2, is that this is something to incorporate in your lighter warm-up sets, as you build up to working intensities.  Once you are at your top sets, it’s probably a good idea to chill as you normally would, as to not interfere with the stimulus that you are trying to elicit.  At that point, your body should be sufficiently prepped.

Experiment with these concepts and figure out what’s best for you.  If you find a circuit combination that works wonders, share it in the comments.   If you figure out a drill or SMR technique that is the perfect compliment to a training movement, please share.

 

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