Warm Up Wrap-Up

Scheduling and Adjusting the Warm Up Intensity and Focus

fitnessinsider_warmup_sprints

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

The warm up is the most consistent variable to every practice session and serves as a great platform for teaching and educating our players on proper form and mechanics as well as physically preparing them to handle all stresses that the game of soccer puts on their bodies. In the past few weeks, we have broken down the short and long-term benefits players can reap from a properly executed warm up, as well as provided examples of exercises and videos of two different types of warm ups.  To read more about Movement Prep and watch videos of the Galaxy players performing Linear and Multidirectional Warm Ups, visit www.lagalaxy.com/fitnessinsider.

This week we are going to wrap up our discussion on the warm up and put all of this information together to illustrate how we schedule the various types of warm ups throughout a typical week during the Galaxy season. Below you'll see how we lay out our warm up schedule over the course of a week, why we implement certain drills on certain days, and how we adjust the intensity based on what the focus of the practice is for that day. 

To view a list of example exercises to use in each section of the warm up, click here.

For the purposes of this discussion and to keep it simple, let's assume that a "typical" week consists of one game played on a Saturday and that all the players are on the same plan.  The Galaxy schedule gets a little more complex with Reserve League games, tournaments such as U.S. Open Cup and players who may have played limited minutes in the week's MLS game but the below explanation should serve as a solid foundation for how to schedule the intensity and focus of your warm up.

Assuming a Saturday game, the weekly warm up schedule may look like:

Saturday

Game Day

Sunday

Day Off

Monday

Focus: Linear Warm Up, long General Warm Up
Intensity: Light /recovery, Low Volume of reps/sets
Duration: 30-60 minutes

90 minutes is very demanding on the body so we need to make sure the players have time to let their bodies and muscles recover.  When we return to practice on a Monday, the warm up is going to be very light in intensity but longer in duration as the warm up will basically serve as the players' practice session for that day in the form of a regeneration or recovery session.  It will be a linear warm up to avoid any cutting, starting, stopping or changing direction so that we are not putting any extra stress on the body. 

With the Linear Warm Up, we tend to focus one day each week on form and mechanics with lighter intensity. These are good for a recovery day like a Monday.  The other day the players do a linear warm up is focused more on strength, so the intensity is higher and we put it right in the middle of the week to give the players a chance to fully recover before a Saturday game. 

The majority of Monday's warm up will consist of general warm up exercises at a very low intensity just to get the players moving and break a sweat.  The Dynamic Stretches will be done in place with an emphasis on ground based exercises to get the guys off their feet.  Plyometrics will be very light if done at all and the Movement Skill component will be non-resisted, focusing on form and mechanics.  Warm ups on this day will last 30-60 minutes with low volume of reps and sets and low intensity.

Tuesday

Focus: Lateral Warm Up, heavy emphasis on Plyometrics and Resisted Movement Skill exercises
Intensity: High, High Volume of reps/sets
Duration: 20 minutes

The players typically play smaller sided possession games during practice on Tuesdays, which require more defending, cutting and changing direction since the ball turns over and moves around more, so we put a lateral emphasis on the warm up for this day to best prepare them. 

Lateral Warm Ups are generally a little more difficult since they involve more cutting, decelerating and changing direction so we try to put those on days that are not right after or right before a game.  Typically, we have the players perform the brunt of the high intensity drills mid-week Tuesday through Thursday and use Monday and Friday as light intensity days with more emphasis on form, mechanics and posture. 

On these days, Dynamic Stretches are usually performed moving and Plyometrics have a medium-to-high intensity. The Movement Skill component will contain resisted exercises with an emphasis on strength and amount of Activation Exercises performed will be at the highest intensity to make sure muscles are firing after a couple days of little-to-no resistance and in order to get some strength gains as well.  The warm up on these days will last the full 20 minutes with high intensity and high volume of reps and sets.

Wednesday

Focus: Linear Warm Up, heavy emphasis on Resisted Movement Skill exercises
Intensity: Medium-to-High, Moderate-to-High Volume of reps/sets
Duration: 20 minutes

On Wednesdays we go back to a Linear Warm Up but now with an emphasis on getting in some resistance work with our sprinting or acceleration exercises, similar to the sample video included in the Linear Acceleration Warm Up article.  Wednesday's drills are not as intense as Tuesday's, but will still maintain a medium-to-high intensity level.  Dynamic Stretches are performed as a group in a circle, Plyometrics will have a medium volume but high intensity, and the Movement Skill section will consist of resisted exercises to focus on strength building.  The warm up will last 20 minutes, at a medium to high intensity with moderate to high volume of reps and sets.

Thursday

Focus: Lateral Warm-Up, heavy emphasis on Movement Application exercises
Intensity: Medium-to-High
Duration: 20 minutes

By Thursday, the practice session will consist of bigger games over a larger portion of the field. We use Thursdays to reinforce lateral or multidirectional movements and mechanics to prepare the players to cover the entire field.  The warm up will be lateral in focus but we will link all types of movements in on this day.  For example, in the example Multidirectional Warm Up we showed last time, the Movement Application portion had the players shuffling but then linking that shuffle to an acceleration exercise as well.  So while the Activation, Dynamic Stretching, Plyometrics and Resisted Movement Skill work will still focus on lateral movements and mechanics at a medium-to-high intensity, we might still try to tie in some linear acceleration movements as well since the players will be making linear runs in the games they will be playing in practice.  Warm up will be 20 minutes with a medium/high intensity and moderate reps and sets on all exercises.

Friday

Focus: Light Multidirectional Focus, heavy emphasis on Movement Application exercises
Intensity: Low, Light volume
Duration: 15 minutes

By Friday we are going to taper down so that the players are fresh and ready to play Saturday night.  Warm up will be multidirectional using some linear and some lateral exercises but will be extremely light in intensity and volume.  Activation exercises will be light in volume, Dynamic Stretching will be in place and a little longer in duration, Movement Skill exercises will be just with body weight and no resistance focusing on mechanics and movements.  The only section that we put a high intensity emphasis on is the Movement Application portion to make sure that the players' bodies get the feel for game speed movements.  Warm up will last 15 minutes with light intensity and light volume.

 

As you can see over the course of the week the warm up and practices almost looks like a pyramid.  The week starts very light and easy, gradually picks up in intensity and volume by Wednesday and then slowly comes back down so that the players are fresh by Saturday night.  We try to coordinate and plan the warm up to fit in with what the coaches have planned from a practice standpoint so that the players are getting the most out of the warm up and so they are as prepared as possible to step on the pitch and meet the demands of that day's practice.

Next week we will answer some of your questions from the last couple weeks.

More on the Warm Up:
Movement Prep - Intro
Exercise Library
Linear Acceleration Warm Up
Multidirectional Warm Up

Have questions about anything you read in this article? Want to learn more? Leave Ben a question below, tweet it to him @byauss1 or email socialmedia@lagalaxy.com.

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