Championship Warm-Up | The Checklist

Despite what your ninth grade gym teacher may have told you, standing for a couple of minutes in the squat rack hitting the old double pec stretch does not constitute a warm-up. 

Does it feel good? Probably. That doesn’t mean it’s a warm-up.

I’ve been talking about the need for a proper warm-up for what feels like an obsessively long time. That’s because people continue to neglect it at all levels, from amateur to professional. I’ve been on the sidelines to watch games and seen some sad attempts at warming up the body from players who are at the very top of their sport. The excuse that it takes too long is even more ludicrous at this level. As pro athletes, you have nothing else to do but train and play the game. Even as a weekend warrior, the few extra minutes you have to spend each day is a small trade-off to avoid weeks or even months of rehab following an injury that may have been preventable.  

In today’s post, we are going to talk about our five checkboxes for a championship level warm up and offer some insight into why they are so important. The tools you use to achieve these aspects are entirely up to you and will differ from coach to coach and athlete to athlete. The concepts are more important than the method.

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Warm Up Check Boxes

Myofascial Release 

A fancy word for rollout and a valuable tool in a championship warm-up routine! We’ve spent significant time on the podcast discussing soft tissue injuries, tightness, and ways to alleviate those restrictions. If we think about our muscles in a very simplistic manner as elastics, we require a certain amount of unrestricted stretch out of them. The amount of stretch varies from person to person and sport to sport, but the presence of adhesions or ‘trigger-points’ within the muscle can limit movement, cause pain, or create an artificial weakness. This means that a muscle that has been trained and is strong is unable to perform. These trigger-points present for a variety of reasons, a hard training session, a long car ride, an awkward sleeping angle, regardless of the cause their presence can inhibit our training session and our ability to improve our movement patterns. Spending a section of our warm-up with a lacrosse ball or foam roller attacking some of these specific areas can release the tension, create fluidity up and down the kinetic chain, and decrease the likelihood of injury. 

Mobility 

The mobility section of our warm-up pairs perfectly with soft tissue release and can be completed multiple times a day in and out of the gym/training session. When we are born, our bodies possess the ability to move through the entire human range. As we grow, the world is continuously assaulting us and limiting our movement. Hours spent in the classroom, in vehicles, at a computer, or holding a phone will slowly degrade our movement ability until the idea of sitting comfortably in a deep squat seems impossible despite the countless children we see do it every day. To address these restrictions every warm-up should include a component of intentional mobility, aimed at improving individual areas of weakness as well as enhancing our workout. If the session will focus on overhead pressing, then it would be pertinent to time opening up for the thoracic spine and shoulder girdle to enhance pain-free movement. Our mobility component allows us to capitalize on the release of trigger points and helps to groove full ranges of motion heading into the workout. 

Trunk Activation – Spinal Protection 

Low back pain is a significant complaint in a large portion of the population; in fact, it is the number one complaint. The severity ranges from mild discomfort to debilitating pain, something we can empathize with after Sylvie spent nearly a month in bed with a near-surgical disc herniation. Fortunately, she used that pain as a motivator, and it forced us to develop a deeper understanding of the spine and the musculature that protects it. The spine is an area of general health, which is the goal of everyone that doesn’t play professional sports, which is unknowingly neglected, especially before strength training. Our spine is susceptible to injury when placed in positions of flexion and rotation without the proper muscular activation. These muscles don’t automatically turn on and do their job, and they often need a little additional coaxing. A concept that is doubly important if you have suffered a low back injury or deal with pain. The trunk is designed to rotate through our thoracic spine but remain stable through the lumbar spine. Detraining and reduced activation often cause us to reverse this pattern unintentionally. To help reinforce proper patterning, add in Side Planks, and Birddogs to your warm-ups. See Stuart Macgill’s work.  

Core Temperature Increase 

Raising core temperature is the aspect of warm-up that everyone understands, which does not mean that it’s any less critical, especially if you are heading out for a hard game. When we discuss raising core temperature, the number one rebuttal is a fear of fatiguing before the game or training session. We are not advocating for a 40-minute warm-up. The goal is enough movement to break a sweat and improve your oxygen uptake, resulting in improved performance when you start the session. Instead of struggling to start, your body will already be acclimated to the increased work rate and will not suffer from oxygen debt. It will also aid in accessing the elastic properties of our musculature and decrease the risk of strains or tears from cold and stiff muscles. Regardless of your athletic status, no one wants to spend time sidelined with torn muscles because of a lazy warm-up. 

Potentiation 

The last aspect of our warm-up checklist refers to the nervous system, not the musculature itself. The difference between great athletes and those that are just good lies within the nervous system, the ability to generate strength, change direction, and interpret a play comes from the mind first. Often – even at the highest level – warm-ups are slow and methodical, which is great up to a point. But, if we want to be truly ready for the demands of our training session, we need to dynamic and violent. Sprint, jump, throw are all examples of movements that ‘wake up’ our body and get it ready to perform. It prepares us for the speed of the game and the reactive nature of sport. 

Training with Intention | Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Your Workouts

If you’ll excuse the bad pun our intention for this year is to highlight a theme at the start of every month and bring you content across all of our areas of expertise – training, nutrition, mindset – during the following weeks. It was only fitting that the first month – although there is only a week remaining – start off with a post about Intention. 

We have spoken previously on goal setting and how to be intentional with your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals so we’ll skip that aspect for now and cycle back later in the year when it’s time for a reminder. Instead, we’re going to focus on training with intention, what that means and why you might be cheating yourself out of the results that you deserve. 

Intention refers to a mental state that is concerned with carrying out a plan or goal. It seems silly to even discuss it, if we are headed to training it means we already intend to improve our health both physically and mentally. That may be true at a very baseline level but unless we’re holding ourself accountable, on every repetition, every day, we’re leaving something on the table. 

Being intentional with our training starts well before we ever get into the gym, studio, lace-up our running shoes or clip into our pedals. What we do from a lifestyle and nutrition perspective sets the tone for our training session. Did I go to bed early? Did I eat properly? Have I drank enough water yet today? Is my mind in the right place? All these factors influence the quality of the training session and have nothing to do with the session itself.

Assuming that we have checked off those boxes and put ourselves in a position to succeed the next aspect of intention involves our mindset for the day. I should start every training session with a specific goal in mind and continually check back in throughout the session to keep myself accountable. If I’m working towards a half marathon a great goal for the day would be stride-length and ground contact. Perhaps, I’ve been working with a coach and he’s noticed that I have a  tendency to over-stride which breaks my rhythm, causes me to decelerate, and is costing me energy. I set that intention and check back in every 5 minutes throughout the run to ensure that I’m remaining strict with my technique and re-wiring the proper movement pattern. If I lose concentration and revert to my old stride I’ll catch it again within 5 minutes and make the correction. 

This may seem excessive so perhaps I’ll frame it in a slightly different way. You need fitness, there is no debate to be had. The alternative to fitness is an accelerated march towards death. This means that every day, week, month, and year you are going to have to dedicate time towards staying alive, and hopefully thriving. If you have to commit a lifetime to fitness why not put the extra effort in and excel at your chosen activity. Plus, have you ever noticed how a great training session carries over to the other aspects of your life? You often feel calmer, better-equipped to deal with adversity and in an improved mood. Exercise does a plethora of wonderful things for our body, most noticeably the release of Endorphins – biochemical hormones – that are responsible for a decrease in pain perception and the upswing in mood following a workout. It seems worthwhile to invest a little extra time in effort into something that has such great carryover to your day-to-day. 

Although these are all examples of ways to implement intention into your training, the real focus of today is going to be on the time spent in the weight room and a few different ways that you can help keep yourself accountable. This refers to the workout on the whole but also each individual rep and set. 

This process starts with a proper warm-up. 

Of all the aspects of training that get overlooked none more so than warm up. The excuses fly fast and loose whenever it’s brought up. It takes too long and I don’t have much time. I don’t want to burn out before my workout. It doesn’t work for me. These are all the usual comments surrounding warm-up and why people choose to avoid it. Although nervous systems and levels of sympathetic (freeze/flight response) arousal are different for everyone, raising core temperature and potentiating (awakening) the body is valuable irrelevant of the population. It decreases the risk of injury and improves the rate at which muscles fire. Being intentional starts with holding yourself accountable in your warm-up. We want to check off a few major boxes. This could take anywhere from 5 – 25 minutes depending on our level of focus and personal physical feedback system. 

Warm Up Check List 

  • Mobilize Stiff Joints / Areas 
  • Dynamically Stretch Muscles
  • Raise Core Temperature – Tacky Skin 
  • Increase O2 Saturation – Breathing Heavier 
  • Improve Mental Alertness 

Lifting with Intent

At this point in the training session, we’ve checked all the boxes. Slept well the night before, drank enough water, ate nutritionally dense food, and warmed up properly. It’s time to pick up heavy stuff and put it down but how we do that matters! When we discuss lifting with intent it means recruiting maximally for every repetition. This is especially important in the maintenance of power. As we age our ability to generate force at a rapid rate declines, this quality of muscular function is responsible for many of our basic life movements and must be trained. A bit of science to help explain. 

That looks complicated but the takeaway for today’s article is that power requires us to move a Load with High Velocity which both requires and is a great way to teach training with Intent! This does not automatically imply a heavy load so please don’t worry about attempting to set Olympic records. All training is based on a Strength / Speed Continuum and power falls on that continuum, from light implement power such as Medicine Ball throws and slams to heavy implement Olympic Lifts and weighted jumps. What is important when discussing power is that every rep is performed maximally. We throw the ball as hard as possible, pull or push the bar with maximum effort and apply as much force as possible.   

The same concept is applied when we shift further up or down the continuum. Even when lifting heavy – near maximal loads- it’s important that we try to move the bar fast as possible even if the load itself restricts us. When world-class powerlifters pull 800-pound deadlifts they are trying to accelerate the bar, it looks slow and labored but the intention is to rip it off the ground. 

Why is this so important? 

From a sports perspective, there are very few sports in the world in which Strength is valued more heavily than Power. In fact, most sports never see maximal strength output or approach maximal speed, it’s the nature of reactive sports. This is why power becomes so critical, we need to be able to turn off and on as quickly as possible to win the moment or exchange. Winning the battle for a loose ball, puck, or fumble can mean the difference between winning and losing a game or drastically changing a career. 

The sport of life is no different, actions like rising from a chair, climbing stairs, throwing or kicking the ball with your kids all require power. A recent study out of Clinimex in Rio De Janerio Brazil has shown that power is related to all-cause co-morbidity, meaning the less Power you have the more likely you are to die. So if we want to live longer we have to move weights quickly and that requires Intent!

We wanted to offer a few quick suggestions for being more intentional with your workouts and that involves incorporating more power-based exercises and tracking them. Sprint more, jump more, throw more, and be more violent with the bar.  

Sprint More. Time It. 

Sprinting is an amazing way to improve your power and Type II fast-twitch fibers. It also decreases cortisol, increases testosterone, and improves insulin sensitivity. Adding a stopwatch will push you to work hard and run faster in hopes of beating the previous best time.

Throw and Jump. Record the Distance. 

Medicine balls are a great way to improve your power and be more intentional with your workouts but if you don’t have one a tire or rock will do just fine, ask the highland game competitors. Sticking with primitive contests jump more, try and jump higher or further and record the distances. After a few workouts, you’ll have a baseline and know when you aren’t exerting maximally or if the body is tired and needs a rest.  

Be Violent with the Bar

Our last suggestion for training with more intention deserves its own explanation so please tune in next week for a breakdown on Velocity Based Training (VBT) and what that could mean for your training or coaching. For this week, think about moving the weights quickly – still with perfect form – especially on the concentric – lifting motion – on the exercise. A quick and dirty way to incorporate VBT into your workouts is by timing your sets. Aim to complete the set as fast as possible and record the time. If you begin to see a drop off in time you’ll know that your body has fatigued and it’s time to move on to a new exercise. 

Be Intentional with your training and what you put in your ears! Tune back in tomorrow for a new podcast with a special Toronto based guest.

#105 – Lyndon Whitlock | Living in the Present vs. Long Term Goals

This week’s episode is with one of our closest friends and a person who truly stands by exactly what he believes. Lyndon Whitlock is one of the head coaches at Parabellum MMA, former professional fighter and on his way to becoming a serious rock climber. He also has some unique insights on life and is not afraid to disagree in a way that really is a breath of fresh air. Hope you enjoy the episode and please share it with your friends. 


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Liked the Episode? Try Something Similiar.

Rory McDonnell / Al Iaquinta


Follow Lyndon

IG – @lyndon_whitlock


This Podcast is Brought To You By

Our Mothers

Thanks to Karen and Anne for bringing us into this world and keeping us alive long enough to screw it up ourselves.

Biosteel Sports Nutrition

Biosteel Sports Nutrition is a Toronto based company, and a leader in high-performance sports drinks for professional athletes and everyday champions alike.

A product created out of necessity and is trusted by athletes like Connor McDavid, Brooke Henderson, Rosie MacLennan, and Andrew Wiggins. They have a full line of products, including their signature High-Performance Sports Drink and Advanced Recovery Formula Protein plus a brand new rooster of Biosteel Green Powder.

Living like a champion requires championship nutrition and there’s no one we trust more.

Enter Promo Code – ChampLifestyle at www.biosteel.com for 15% Off the Next Order

truLOCAL

We care about food…a lot, and after having truLOCAL on the podcast we were stoked to throw a couple of their Ontario raised steaks on the BBQ. We loved them and couldn’t wait to try the rest of their amazing products and wanted to give you a chance to try them too.

To celebrate our new partnership head over to truLOCAL.ca and use the code word CHAMPIONSHIP10 for $25 dollars off a regular box! We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Show Notes

  • Coming Shortly

Champ Community

Hear what other Champions have been saying about the Podcast
  • NowYouKnow604 said ” I’m a fan of information and value. There are only a few podcasts I rock with that are worth the time, JRE with Joe Rogan, Championship Lifestyle, Think Space with Joss Biggins, Gary Vee Audio with Gary Vee etc. We should be auditing everything, audit the BS out of your podcasts and your ear. I’m rocking with this podcast pretty much every day”
  • Paulwall2837 said “Genuinely get excited to listen! Great topics and great flow, Adrian and Sylvia definitely know how to keep you interested!”
  • The Stretch Therapist said “what a great time – informal, raw and just an all around good time.”

How A Back Injury Ruined Breakfast

Sorry, we will be closed for the day for an unexpected health problem (resting sore lower back) we will open back up tomorrow 

—Mad Dog

I realize that you are probably wondering who exactly this Mad Dog is because they sound an awful lot like a pirate, and you can’t imagine a situation where a pirate ship would hold off looting a merchant vessel because of a sore lower back, they did battle high seas and scurvy after all. Plus, it is about 300 years too late for maritime pillaging.

You would, of course, be right, I didn’t read this note off of a yellow stained piece of parchment that I pulled out of an old green bottle, and Mad Dog is not the Great Lakes most infamous pirate. Mad Dos is a local breakfast spot, and that note was posted on the door yesterday morning while I was searching ravenously for bacon and eggs.

I was hungry and devastated. An injury had ruined breakfast.

Injuries are nothing to joke about, STATCAN took a closer look at injuries across all ages, and the results are enlightening. Over 15% of the population experienced an injury that restricted them from daily functioning, that is a 2 percent increase from the study a decade before, and I would guess, and this is my own opinion only, that that rate has increased since the results in 2011 to match our levels of sedentariness. We move so little that when we do move, it’s dangerous. Even jobs that require physical activity are repetitive and not necessarily beneficial to overall health.

Running a kitchen is demanding work, the constant bending, lifting and twisting that goes on can undoubtedly take a toll on your spine health, and it’s easy to see how you might need an extra day off. One day off may not seem like a huge deal, one day, but if it happens once a month that’s almost 500 hours of lost work in a year. And it very easily could happen as the statistics above indicate. The Mad Dog cafe is an owner-operator business, if Johnson – the man behind the brand – can’t make it into work the ship doesn’t move, and they lose the opportunity to generate income for the day in a highly competitive Toronto market. What if one of the people who tried to come in that day was a new customer? Referred by a friend and excited to try out a new brunch spot. When they see the sign, they are disappointed and with no previous exposure to the brand have no interest in returning. If it had been open; however, they may have loved it, told their friends and came back once a week creating another source of recurring income for the business.

Even if you aren’t personally the business, you don’t want to take a sick day or lose a day of pay because of an injury. The only people who should be missing work for injuries are professional athletes. When you are injured, it’s pretty tricky to be effective. Your mind is distracted by the pain, every adjustment in your chair hurts, and every time you stand up to stretch it feels infinitely worse, making you wish that you had stayed home.

It could be even worse. Perhaps you had a big weekend planned at the cottage, waterskiing with friends, a couple of beer on the dock, and a family style dinner to cap off the night. Instead, you are stuck at home, popping Tylenol and trying to find a position that doesn’t make you scream into your pillow.

We often create separate buckets in our minds for fitness and work. One is the weekly pick up basketball game, the other how we pay rent and eat. Unfortunately, they are forever linked. Our overall quality of life will always be predicated on how well we can move, which will, in turn, impact how we feel. Our bodies are not designed to remain stagnate, much less injured, and the consequence of not moving is significant both physically and mentally.

If you are reading this article chances are that you have had some injury that has nagged you at home and work and if I were to attempt to define a method for avoiding every injury, this would be a never-ending article. So instead I’ve included a few basic guidelines.

I’m not advocating you start an eight-day a week Olympic training regime but decreasing the likelihood of injury and improving the overall quality of your life is fucking important. Don’t worry about crushing yourself in the gym every single session or setting a new land speed record on your morning run day after day after day. The goal of training should be to leave the session feeling better than when you started, if not immediately for sure within a couple of days.

Aim to include each of the four categories below into your training week to stay injury free, and performing at your peak.

Resistance Training (Pick Things / Your Body Up and Down)
Recovery (Yoga / Stretching)
Conditioning (Alternating between Fast and Slow)
Rest

Some weeks may feature more of one than the other, and that’s fine. Don’t feel the need to follow everything to the letter, what matters most is that you are moving more often than not, in a variety of ways that build your resilience to injury.

#103 – Jennifer Rochon | Getting to Know ‘The Ro Show

Our guest this week brought an outrageous amount of energy and an infectious smile to the podcast, plus some pretty impressive handstand skills. Jennifer Rochon is one of Montreal’s top trainers, an Under Armour Ambassador, and Global News’s fitness expert. Jennifer discusses her past influences in gymnastics and diving, being bullied as a teenager and how she stumbled into fitness. If you want some serious motivation head over to Jennifer’s page and watch her pull a ridiculous amount of weight off the ground and put it above her head. Don’t forget to share and subscribe.


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Liked the Episode? Try Something Similiar.

Carlos Salas


Follow The Ro Show

IG – @jenniferrochon_jro


This Podcast is Brought To You By

Our Mothers

Thanks to Karen and Anne for bringing us into this world and keeping us alive long enough to screw it up ourselves.

Biosteel Sports Nutrition

Biosteel Sports Nutrition is a Toronto based company, and a leader in high-performance sports drinks for professional athletes and everyday champions alike.

A product created out of necessity and is trusted by athletes like Connor McDavid, Brooke Henderson, Rosie MacLennan, and Andrew Wiggins. They have a full line of products, including their signature High-Performance Sports Drink and Advanced Recovery Formula Protein plus a brand new rooster of Biosteel Green Powder.

Living like a champion requires championship nutrition and there’s no one we trust more.

Enter Promo Code – ChampLifestyle at www.biosteel.com for 15% Off the Next Order

truLOCAL

We care about food…a lot, and after having truLOCAL on the podcast we were stoked to throw a couple of their Ontario raised steaks on the BBQ. We loved them and couldn’t wait to try the rest of their amazing products and wanted to give you a chance to try them too.

To celebrate our new partnership head over to truLOCAL.ca and use the code word CHAMPIONSHIP10 for $25 dollars off a regular box! We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Show Notes

  • The naming of the RO Show – 4:30
  • Jennifer’s life before coaching and training – 7:00
  • Jennifer’s Early Relationship with Sports – 9:10
  • The lessons learned from being bullied and how it all changed – 12:00
  • Lessons we can learn from our elders and why we often need someone with distance to help us – 20:00
  • Why you never know who you’ll meet – The Global News Gig – 23:00
  • Trying to help everyone – 27:00
  • Calisthenics – The fitness style made for Instagram – 30:00
  • Jennifer’s love for helping others and disappointment in the state of the industry  – 38:00
  • Body Positivity – A Fine Balance Between Happiness in Appearance and Health – 50:30
  • Champ Rounds – 57:45

Champ Community

Hear what other Champions have been saying about the Podcast
  • I’m a fan of information and value. There are only a few podcasts I rock with that are worth the time, JRE with Joe Rogan, Championship Lifestyle, Think Space with Joss Biggins, Gary Vee Audio with Gary Vee etc. We should be auditing everything, audit the BS out of your podcasts and your ear. I’m rocking with this podcast pretty much every day”
  • Paulwall2837 said “Genuinely get excited to listen! Great topics and great flow, Adrian and Sylvia definitely know how to keep you interested!”
  • The Stretch Therapist said “what a great time – informal, raw and just an all around good time.”