This month I want to touch on the importance of warming up. There seems to be a misunderstanding that warming up is burning energy, or “lighting matches” as they say in cycling. The truth of the matter is that a warm-up routine is not only to get the body ready for optimal performance, but also to prepare the mind for the task at hand. The best results in training and racing are the result of several components and a good warm-up is easily the number one limiting factor to great performance in training and racing.
I was lucky enough to spend some time watching and talking to Olympic caliber track and field athletes as they warmed up for their workout at the Chula Vista Training Center. Although the actual training was only going to be 6-8 sprints, they warmed up for 30 minutes and this was for less than 2 minutes of total explosive work. The truth is that you want to be able to do the actual training at full physiological and psychological capacity. When I have my athletes sprint, the purpose is to program the physiological component with the psychological component so that several important things happen:
o Neurologically, the mind is telling the motor units of a group of muscles to fire, the mind needs to clearly tell the motor units what to do without hesitation. Imagine two phone lines connected and open so they can communicate. The mind needs to be ready and without distractions to transmit the message. A proper intense warm-up with mental focus and a vision of what you want to do will help facilitate this.
o For the body to respond to the mental request for movement, this neural pathway needs to be activated to perform the correct movements at full capacity. It is crucial that the motor units and muscles are activated before the expected intense effort. In other words, if the muscles are cold, not only will there be a delay, but there is also the possibility that the muscles will not respond to full contraction.
o For BMX racing, a proper warm-up will also release lactic acid faster and recycle it with excellent efficiency. If there is no warm-up, the body will not tolerate lactate well either. Be sure to do a long sprint to remove the burn and open this system component as well. (Do this before practice, not before the first bike!)
When I was a young pro warming up for 20 minutes in the woods at South Park NBL National an hour before my practice, my teammates used to look at me like I was a freak. I remember them and most of the pros using practice as a warm up, but they never seemed ready for the first moto and therefore would never get going for the rest of the day. A good warm-up sets the tone for your race day!
A proper warm-up will prevent an athlete from becoming neurologically confused when riding a new track, as they may not adjust properly to the new dynamics of a track, causing them to doubt if they feel good about themselves riding the track. clue. This could possibly affect athletes’ confidence, spending more time unsure before the first heat, when they need to use this energy to be ready for anything when the gate drops.
Warm-up routines vary for different demands, both on and off the bike, racing, or training. It’s best to develop a complete routine for speed training and then apply that routine before practice at an event or even before practice on a local night. There are 2 different types of energy systems that need to be heated: aerobic and anaerobic. Almost always, an anaerobic “dynamic warm-up” is more specific to BMX, sprints, or strength work. In BMX, every movement is a “dynamic demand”; therefore, dynamic heating is necessary. Usually this means sprints of all varieties, lengths, and intensities. The duration could be a minimum of 10 minutes to 20 minutes full of sprints and maybe even some manual jumps and roller coasters. Of course, this would be done with plenty of rest between efforts and no running for 20 minutes constantly. Once this is done, the training or practice on the track will come. Once again, you want to be on the track ready for the demands so you can program yourself to know the track to the best of your ability!
Training off the bike, such as GYM work or plyometric training, can usually benefit from a dynamic warm-up consisting of a combination of both exercises or bike sprints. Exercises can be about getting the body to not only achieve neural adaptation, but also get full range of motion so there are no surprises when you squat or do a plyometric jump. The same principle applies in terms of neural activation: get the mind and body to respond together in a cohesive way so you can get the most out of exercise and training. A typically dynamic warm-up will consist of exercises such as jumping rope, lunges, body squats, and light non-static stretching. A quick note on stretching: Forcing a muscle by stretching it beyond what it is currently capable of or holding it longer than 20 seconds can also cause damage in the form of microtears. The end result will be mild paralysis of the muscles from contracting at full capacity because those slightly torn muscle fibers just won’t respond; there damaged. So stretch lightly if you need to stretch before activity.
Well there you have it, warming up and doing a specific dynamic for BMX racing and training will allow you to be ready and get the most out of your session.