What do you look for in a warm up? I found this video today of hockey warm up exercises, and I compared these to what I might ask of my clients. I didn’t “warm” (sorry!) to the hockey drills as they didn’t seem fun or rewarding, and those quick change overs can be very tiring.

This is an interesting point to me, in particular, as many of the typical warm up exercises employed by trainers are not suitable for clients with neurological disorders, where the exercise is neurologically taxing, and will leave the client over fatigued before the sessions has got going.

What I want to achieve is to mobilise the joints, especially those we will be focusing on in the main session. Even the most valuable exercise, may not be right for your client, or not right for them just now.

When kettlebell training, I consider the muscles and movements of swings, and when you acknowledge that these are very close to those used during box jumps and deadlifts, there I have some of my favourite warm up exercises. So, for kettlebell (or barbell) lifting, I would go for tyre flipping and box jumps.

With chair bound clients, I have to determine what I want to achieve in their training session, before I can settle on an optimum warm up.  If I am looking to build up upper body strength, I will choose gentle mobility exercises for the shoulders. Where there is poor neck and head stability, the emphasis will be on breathing techniques, and some gentle stretching. Warming up has to be a relative term, as exhausting a client with consistently low energy levels will achieve very little.

After the warm up, the client’s individual strengths and limitations should still dictate the emphasis. If running, for example, is not feasible, then you will still want to seek out some kind of acceleration exercise, but the scope is huge. A kettlebell jerk/bump is just as good an acceleration. If your client is unable to use their lower body, rope undulation is a brilliant cardio movement. It is a swift drill as well, as the upper body cannot sustain cardio for long, and the training stimulus is high.

The warm up is key to a good session. So I shall spend a while longer in planning the next one.