Sample Warmup

Here is one of the UAD athletes performing the warmup I posted a few weeks back. I didn’t turn the camera on right away, so it’s missing a few exercises. That said, this gives you an idea of what it looks like. Not everything is executed perfectly, but it is done pretty well.

As well, here are a few exercises from later in the session. This particular session was a low intensity day, with various power speed and skipping/hopping exercises being utilized as tempo work. Med ball throws and upper body resistance training were included as well, though I did not record those.

How PE Should Be

This video has been making the rounds the last few days, but it’s one that I think should absolutely be seen by as many people as possible. While I don’t foresee any school taking it into their hands to implement this type of PE program today, it would be fantastic.

Save Your Money on Training Masks

Gimmicks in the training world are nothing new. Every day it seems some new gadget or miracle pill is being introduced which claims to deliver all the results you seek, and faster than you thought possible. Today I wanted to address elevation training masks as they seem to be gaining traction in the training world.

Oxygen dissemination in the body operates on a gradient. Oxygen enters the lungs, where it awaits de-oxygenated blood being pumped through the body. When the blood reaches the lungs, the pressure of oxygen in the capillaries is lower than it is in the lungs. So the oxygen moves from the higher pressure in the lungs to the lower pressure in the blood vessels. In the blood, the oxygen must bind to hemoglobin in order to be carried around the body. At sea level, due to the partial pressure of oxygen, roughly 98% of the binding sites on hemoglobin will hold onto oxygen. However, as we go higher in elevation, due to the lower partial pressure of oxygen, a smaller amount of oxygen will bind to each hemoglobin molecule. As an adaptation to this, the body produces more red blood cells. So even though each cell carries fewer oxygen molecules, the extra number makes up the difference.

Once they go back to normal altitude, the adaptations of extra red blood cells and a higher blood volume persist for a short time before the body normalizes. In well-trained athletes, this is good because they still have more red blood cells and total blood, however, at normal altitude, each blood cell can now carry more oxygen molecules, which means more oxygen can be carried through the blood and to the muscles.

Where this matters less is in athletes who are not as well-trained, because if the athlete does not have the appropriate “machinery” in the muscles to utilize the oxygen being delivered, then all the extra oxygen is unnecessary. It will not be used. I should note that only the very highest-level competitors truly have the aerobic machinery necessary to efficiently process and use the extra oxygen.

Aerobic performance can be thought of thusly – central adaptations which improve oxygen delivery, and peripheral adaptations which improve oxygen utilization. The problem is, most people don’t have the necessary machinery at the peripheral level to truly take advantage of the oxygen being delivered to it. Thus, improving oxygen delivery is an exercise in futility because all of the oxygen being delivered isn’t being used. It is no different than the football players you may see who use oxygen masks when coming off the field. While the higher concentration of oxygen may yield better delivery to the muscles, the players do not have well-enough developed aerobic machinery at the peripheral level to actually utilize the oxygen when it gets there.

Another point to be made is that merely training at altitude is not sufficient to spur these adaptations. Living at altitude for an extended period of time is necessary. Short exposures during training sessions are not sufficient. Thus, the recommendation is often “live high, train low.” Living at altitude will promote the necessary adaptations in red blood cell count and blood volume, while training at lower altitudes will eliminate the possible issues associated with lower levels of oxygen that come with being at altitude. This will result in better training sessions and a better training effect.

It should also be noted that all of these recommendations are for endurance athletes. Sprinters and lactic athletes may find some benefits of training at altitude. Lactic athletes in particular, because training at altitude, void of the adaptations of living at altitude, means less oxygen is delivered to the muscles, and lactic enzymes are developed to cope with the stress of not having adequate oxygen available.

All of this is also said assuming the masks in question actually change the partial pressure of oxygen, as opposed to simply restricting air flow. If it is the latter (which is most likely), it does nothing to change the partial pressure of oxygen, and therefore there is little need for more red blood cells. It will almost certainly strengthen the lungs and breathing musculature, but will do little to nothing for the actual aerobic performance of the body.

This post is merely meant to be informative as to the efficacy, or lack thereof, of popular training gimmicks. It is not meant to be a comprehensive article outlining the complexities of aerobic metabolism and adaptations. Undoubtedly, training masks make training harder. But that doesn’t automatically mean better. So what’s the point in all this? Save your money, and train smarter. There are no shortcuts. Just consistent, hard, smart work.

11 Mistakes I’ve Made (So You Don’t Have To)

Excellent article by Craig Pickering. Here is a snippet:

3. Testing Everything!

One rep max. Five rep max. Reaction time. 10m from blocks. 30m from blocks. Flying 30m. 60m from standing. 100m from standing. 200m from standing. 300m from standing. Peak bar velocity for power clean / snatch / squat. Peak power for power clean / snatch / squat / bench. Peak isometric power. Body weight. Skin folds. Girths. Medball throw. Standing long jump. Five bound distance. These are all the things that I can remember testing and measuring during my career. Now, there isn’t anything wrong per se with testing, so long as you put the test in its rightful place. The only real test that matters is how little time elapses between the gun going off and you crossing the finish line in an official competition. Hopefully, the time that elapses will be less than the other people in the race. Ideally, this elapsed time will be the shortest amount of time it has ever taken you to both react and cover the race distance. Your performance in every other test is largely irrelevant to this; if you improve in all your tests but get slower in a race, then monitoring those tests hasn’t been worthwhile (or at least hasn’t given the correct signal).


A thorough warmup serves many purposes. Because of this, every session begins with a warmup that lasts anywhere from 10-30 minutes. A properly designed warmup should progress from low to high intensity, and from less to more specific. While all programs at UAD are individualized, the warmup for land-based athletes remains largely the same for all. It is constituted of movements and ideas derived from Charlie Francis, Dan Pfaff, Cal Dietz, Loren Landow, Gerard Mach, Buddy Morris and others. The athletes move in all directions and planes, while emphasizing posture & stability through motion and mobility in the appropriate structures. Some exercises also act as a form of practice for the work to follow.

The mechanisms through which a properly designed, thorough warmup improves performance are many.

“A proper dynamic warm-up acts as a mobilizing stimulus for the systems involved in oxygen transport, allowing a high level of aerobic activity to be reached more quickly, reducing initial oxygen deficit, and allowing the aerobic system to provide energy for a longer period of time, as well as increasing muscle temperature and improving blood flow to the muscles, allowing for more oxygen delivery and faster removal of metabolic byproducts.” (Stewart & Sleivert)

A warm muscle results in warm motor neurons. “This heating lowers the electrical resistance in the neural pathways within muscle, thus improving the muscle’s contraction speed” (Francis). This results in greater speed, power, and strength output.

Dynamic flexibility is a must for joint health especially in aging athletes. Movement about a joint creates changes in pressure in the joint capsule that drives nutrients from the synovial fluid (the fluid a joint is encased in) toward the cartilage of the joint. Since cartilage lacks its own blood supply, the chrondrocytes (the cells that produce cartilage), must depend on diffusion of oxygen and nutrients directly from synovial fluid for survival. Appropriately, joint mobility correlates highly with joint health.” (Morris)

Additionally, if the heart rate is kept in the appropriate range, the warmup may also be used as a form of cardiac output training, contributing to cardiac efficiency and increases in stroke volume. At the moment, I do not have the athletes wearing heart rate monitors, though it is a goal in the future.

Research has repeatedly shown that excessive static stretching decreases performance, and does nothing to decrease injury risk. As such, we do no static stretching in the warmup, save for some athletes whose mobility is very poor and need the extra range of motion to achieve positions during training they otherwise likely would not be able to. Research has shown that following static stretching with dynamic work negates the negative effects of static stretching, so any stretching takes place after the heart rate elevation and before the rest of the warmup.

Of course, simply having access to a list of exercises is meaningless without the ability to appropriately introduce, teach, progress and regress them (if necessary). The hope is that this article and list prompt coaches to think critically about the inclusion of all aspects of their program.

UAD Warmup Sample

Francis., C. (1997). The Charlie Francis Training System. Available from

Morris, B., & Myslinski, T.(2005). Coach X GPP Manual. Retrieved from

Stewart, I.B., & Sleivert, G.G. (1998). The effect of warm-up intensity on range of motion and anaerobic performance. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 27(2), 154-161.