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The Ramp Warm-Up is perhaps the most important piece of the training session.
Anyone that knows me knows that I thrive on systems, structure and planning. Thus I am always searching for new systems and structures that allow me to provide a better service to my athletes and clients. A little while back I was struggling with how to structure a warm-up so that I could have my athlete’s warm-up effectively without missing any of the key areas, in doing this I came across the RAMP Warm-up. This warm-up system needed to address all of the qualities these athletes would need to be successful in the upcoming sessions.
The Ramp Warm-Up
After reading Ian Jefferies book Gamespeed I came across the RAMP warm-up system. When reading about this system it was kind of like an AHHH HA! Moment went off in my head. I have been structuring my warm-ups like this since.
RAMP stands for Raise, Activate, Mobilise, & Potentiate. When designing a warm-up following this order insures that no piece of the puzzle is skipped over. Let’s take a closer look.
Typical to most warm-up protocols the RAISE has the goal of raising the body temperature, heart-rate, respiration, blood flow, and joint fluid viscosity. It accomplishes this through the use of low intensity activities. Typically this is accomplished with a jog around the field, or time on a bike. This is where the RAISE phase differs from other warm-up protocols.
The RAISE portion of the warm-up looks to accomplish its goals using sport specific movement patterns. Identifying the key patterns that are used in the upcoming sporting activity can ensure that the athletes are adequately prepared. This can lead to additional movement qualities being developed and trained with no additional time requirement from the athletes.
For example if we were warming up for football we may want to use backpedals, lineman steps, quarterback drops or other movement qualities that the athletes will be utilising during the upcoming practice or competition. The benefits to this are 2 fold
- It allows athletes extra time to practice the techniques that they will be using at a lower intensity
- It allows athletes to raise their body temperature and utilise the musculature necessary for successful performance
Activate & Mobilise
After the Raise is completed the athlete will move into phase 2, Activate & Mobilise. Phase 2 has two distinct goals as stated by the name:
- To activate key muscle groups
- To mobilise key joints and ranges of motion used in the sport
This is where the warm-up can be made very specific to the athlete/sporting event. The coach can choose key movements that will stimulate the muscle groups for the specific athlete as well as prepare them for the upcoming session. This phase can include exercises typically labelled as “PRE-Hab” such as mini-band routines, corrective exercises, rotator cuff exercises, and other technique drills.
Traditionally many warm-up protocols have included a static stretching component. However the RAMP system takes a different approach to this task, rather than having the focus on specific muscle groups. A More holistic approach is taken through the targeting of specific movements. The coach should first choose activation movements’ specific to the athlete and activity. Than implement specific mobilisation drills for the aforementioned movements.
Finally we come to phase 3 Potentiate. Potentiate means to improve performance, in the case of the warm-up we are aiming to improve the effectiveness of the subsequent training that will take place. With this in mind we begin to shift the movements performed to work on the key aspects of the upcoming training or sport to be completed. This phase will normally include some sporting specific movements that increase in intensity.
The aims of this phase of the warm up are twofold:
- Increase intensity to a point where subsequent activities can be performed at maximal level
- Select activities that can contribute to a supra-maximal effect via utilisation of a post activation potentiation effect
For this phase the types of movements should reflect the training that is about to take place. For example if you will be performing a sprinting heavy workout than your potentiate portion should include sprinting, and plyometric drills, similarly if strength training is the upcoming session than medicine ball throws, plyometrics, and lighter explosive resistance training can be used.
Utilising this phase can help to provide additional training stimulus for key movements. Such as during a speed training session the potentiate phase can be used for additional progressive speed training drills. During weight training this phase can be used for additional technique reps at an explosive speed. Adding plyometrics and explosive movements has also been shown to improve performance in subsequent training and competition.
Structuring your warm-up in this fashion provides a framework from which to design. Utilising this frame ensures that you hit all the necessary components for an effective workout in a systematic fashion that is aimed at improving performance for the upcoming activity. The amount of movements and duration of each movement within each phase can be highly customised depending on the specific needs of the population that you are working with. For consideration for some athletes I will add a Release before the RAMP making the acronym RRAMP warm-up. I would utilise the release as any foam rolling, or self-myofascial work that the athletes need to feel prepared to bring it in their sessions. I encourage younger coaches to begin to structure your warm-up systems similar to this to improve its effectiveness.