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The Basics: Warming Up

BY LIZ HINLEY
PHOTO BY ED MORAN

Imagine driving to your local boathouse or gym, walking up to an erg, and then hammering a 500-meter sprint right off the bat. Although I can’t not tell you exactly how that would go, I can safely say it will not be a great experience. 

Physically, your muscles would be cold and stiff restricting movement and blood supply. The nerves firing for those working muscles would get a big shock and either remain shut off or get hit with a big jolt. 

Mentally, your mind will be elsewhere instead of being focused and really honing in on the piece. 

The simple fix for preventing all that unpleasantness? A solid warm-up.

When structuring an optimal warm-up series, focus on creating a routine that involves getting the muscles warm and the blood moving, stimulating the neuromuscular system so that the muscles fire as they should, and preparing the mind for what’s coming up next. 

For those that have a usual warm-up series, you may use these suggestions as a way to mix up what you routinely do and benefit from the change of pace. 

Here are some examples of activities for each category mentioned:

Going from cold to warm:Neuromuscular firing:Mental prep:
Light run
Arm swings
Jumping jacks
Easy bike
Leg swings
High knees
Punters/Toy soldier
Light erg
Jump rope
Hurdle steps
World’s greatest
Butt kickers
Pushups
Scullers
Jumpies
Mountain Climbers
Lunge with torso twist
Walking single leg RDL
Bridges
Standing rows
Superman backbends
Burpees
Walking side lunges
Inchworm
Focused breathing
Race walkthrough visualization 
Over-rate to settle at target stroke rate
Review piece sequences (e.g. the start) 
Recite calls/cues
Listen to your hype up/settle down soundtracks
Intervals at target pace

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