First things first, why warm up? May sound basic but it serves several important functions aside from the obvious of preventing injury.
- It raises core and body temperature – Without getting too science-y on you, increased body temperature decreases resistance of muscle and joint, making your arms and legs more pliable and therefore increases range of motion.
- Kick starts oxygen delivery – This is largely self explanatory. Without sufficient oxygen supply your performance will decrease rapidly. By warming this waking up of your body will mean that come race time your body will be ready to run all systems go
- Gets your lungs ready – ever noticed that when you first jump in the pool you can barely hold your breath for more than a few strokes for the first few minutes but then becomes much more effortless? Your warm up will also act as a respiratory warm up, to avoid you needing to gasp for breath and there fore making you more efficient and therefore quicker
Now for how to make the most of your warm up for each discipline:
The warm up in riding is slightly different to the other disciplines. First there is the course walk. Think of this as more preparing your brain than your body physically, and I have written a whole blog post explain the ins and outs of this. The second phase if you like of the warm up in the riding stage is when you get on your horse. Use this time to get a feel for your horse, is it lazy? is it spooky? Becoming aware of things like this now will enable you to remain one step ahead in the arena and anticipate your horses actions.
One key thing to remember is that while you are warming up be careful not to over do it. You will only have 15 minutes in total, and 5 jumps, and in this time you should make sure you do plenty of each 3 paces and not focus on one. Make sure you are aware of your arena, doing some circles and changing reins too.
When it comes to your 5 jumps, start with a small cross pole in a trot to give both yourself and the horse enough time to think before you start jumping in canter.
Combined event –
when warming up for this event, it is easier to at first spilt it into its two core disciplines, running and shooting. `
Shooting first. The first key thing to do here is check you have everything you need and that you’ve got the correct gun (a light or a heavy one, suiting your preference). Then once everything is set up take your time to aim and hit each target, thinking about the tips and tricks you have been given. Once you are happy and constantly being accurate move on to warming up for running.
Second the running. For this, I would like to expel the common belief that static stretches are the best way forward here. Although this will help to stretch muscles and prevent injury, it is not the most effective method and does not serves to warm up the rest of your body.
Start with a gentle jog for at least 2 minutes, and then start to add strides/ pick-ups which help switch your body over from walking mode to running and flood your muscles with blood. A key thing to be cautious of her though is that while you are striding and focus on your technique, do not over stride. This means extending your foot and leg too far out, as this is a common cause of injury. Be sure to keep steps short and quick with your legs under your torso.
Moving on to dynamic stretches which should be controlled and slow will serve to increase range of motion, while keeping heart rate and body temperature high.
Lastly, combine the two phases together for a few rounds to get a feel for what it will be like in the competition.
When taking part in your swimming warm up, it is more than just simply doing laps. Although it is recommend you start with a few easy laps, you should more on to alternating between focusing on technique and speed, as well as your turns to save time in the real race.
Making the most of you swim heart warm up is important as it may be at least 5-10 minutes before you are actually able to race and it is vital that in this time you keep your muscles warm. To do this you may want to put on a tracksuit for example.
Warming up for fencing starts much the same as your warm up for running with a series of light jogs and dynamic stretches that focus on you legs and arms. When you have stretched sufficiently move on to prating your fencing footwork up and down the piste, with a few lunges as using these muscles now will turn them on making your reactions faster and stronger later. Make sure that you vary the speed and direction of your footwork frequently.
Once you have warmed up your muscles, get kitted up and find some one to fine, you can use this time to focus on perfecting a specific move, and to get yourself used to the environment that you will soon be competing in.
Hopefully these tips will be useful, and if you follow them you will be able compete at the top of your game!