Warm-up Like a Gladiator for Explosive Power
by: Robbie Durand
A week ago, I was watching the History Channel on the gladiators fighting to the death in the Roman Coliseum. Before a battle, the fighters would fight with wooden swords to warm up. They would use specific thrusting and sparing movements that would be utilized in the fight to the death. The gladiators trained with exercise-specific activities to increase performance in the arena.
If you examine the way, people warm-up in the gym today, most people go into the gym and either walk on the treadmill for a few minutes, stretch to get their muscles warmed up before exercise, or perform workout specific warm-ups such as squatting the bar before gradually increasing the weight. Warm-ups are crucial because they get your muscles ready for activity. One of the more important aims of warm up is to increase performance through increasing muscle temperature, or increasing the speed of nerve transmission.
With the many different types of warm-ups, is there any warm up that is more conducive to increasing strength in the gym?
According to a new study published in the Biology of Sport, explosive warm up can boost your strength. Researchers compared the acute effects of general, specific, and combined warm-up on explosive performance. Healthy male subjects participated in six warm-up protocols in a crossover randomized study design.
-Passive rest (15 min of passive rest),
-Running (5 min of running at 70% of maximum heart rate),
-Stretching (5 min of static stretching exercise),
-Jumping (5 min of jumping exercises – 3×8 countermovement jumps (CMJ) and
-3×8 Drop jumps from 60 cm, and
combined (protocols running+ stretching+ Jump combined).
Immediately before and after each warm-up, subjects were assessed for explosive power by measuring the concentric-only squat jump as a measure of muscle performance.
At the end of the study, squat jump performance was significantly improved from only the jumping warm-up protocols while passive rest resulted in a significant decrease in performance. Drop jump performance tests were significantly improved only following jumping and combined warm-ups.
Therefore, when you’re looking to increase explosive power in the gym, it would be helpful to include exercise specific warm ups. For example, if you’re looking to warm up before a squat, try adding a jumping squat or a related training exercise to improve maximal power.
If you’re doing bench press, try doing some traditional push-ups before benching or speed benching with a bar:
The really interesting aspect of the study is that walking on a treadmill, which most people do for their warm up, really has no impact on increasing maximal power, so before you begin your training, make sure to include warm-up specific exercises for greater increase in power.
We can learn from the gladiators warming up before going into battle and use exercise specific exercise to increase explosive power.
Andrade, D. C., Henriquez-Olguin, C., Beltran, A. R., Ramirez, M. A., Labarca, C., Cornejo, M., … & Ramirez-Campillo, R. (2015). Effects of general, specific and combined warm-up on explosive muscular performance. Biol Sport, 32(2), 123-128.
MUSCLE MEDIA MAGAZINE