Elite Warmup and Preparation

Elite Warmup and Preparation

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A proper warm-up does a variety of things. It raises your core temperature and wakes up your nervous system, prepares your joints for heavy loading and pre-strengthens your muscles. Gymnasts endure some of the toughest training around and require a carefully developed warm-up program. Jordan Jovtchev’s career has spanned four Olympic cycles and he is still competing at age 32. He is still in great shape and does't require any taping on his joints. What is his secret to staying in Olympic shape for 15 years? One big secret is his meticulously detailed warm-up regimen that he performs before all of his workouts. For the first time ever, he has allowed us to film it in its entirety. This video features over 100 different movements used by Jordan and the US National Team in their preparation.

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Jordan demonstrates the full pancake splits. His daily warm-up allows him to do this with ease. His routine uses dynamic compound stretches.

In early 2005, I had a chance to witness something extraordinary. It was the 2005 Visa American Cup in New York City. I was traveling with Jordan Jovtchev, the world champion gymnast, and because of that I had full backstage access. The competition was great, but the preparation prior to the competition is what captivated me the most. Of all of the competitors, Jordan had the most unique and interesting warm-up. He started with a blended sequence of joint mobility exercises and stretches. Moving seamlessly between movements and from one modality to the next, every joint from head to toe was covered efficiently and effectively. After a very thorough mobility session, he then started using elastic resistance to warm-up his joints and muscles. Using some rubber tubing from his gym bag, he went through a series of exercises to prepare his muscles, without tightening or over-fatiguing them. Lastly, he went over to the parallel bars and did what he calls his "pre-strength". It is a set of exercises that allow him to ramp up his intensity for what he will later perform on the rings. Weightlifters do this by loading up a bar with an easy weight and progressively building towards their max effort. Jordan’s method is just as effective. After the competition,. I asked him if he would be interested in doing some more training videos if his schedule allowed. Of course, he was willing to do it, but he was surprised that I was most interested in his warm-up! He’s been doing this routine for so long that he barely thinks about it. To an outsider like me, it was solid gold information that had to be shared.

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Jordan's flexband routine preps his muscles for heavier loading later. The movements are dynamic and cover all the key movements he does on rings. His pre-strength routine is a mix of mobility and strength. It includes manna swings, planche pushups and more.

We met several months later and as luck would have it, Kevin Mazeika, head coach of the most successful US men’s Olympic team in history, just happened to be there as well. Kevin allowed us to film the National Team Warm-up routine that he uses with his top athletes. Although there is overlap with what Jordan does in his warm-up, there was also enough new stuff to make it worthwhile.

How to Use this Video

Much of what you see in this video is difficult or impossible for the average viewer. You will need to scale it to your abilities and adapt it to your own needs. Below is some advice on how to get the most out of this video. 
I would advise you to watch this video all the way through the first time. The second time, you might try following along with one of the routines and then try the other one later on. After a while, mix and match your favorite movements from Jordan and the national team. There are over a hundred movements in this video, so you will probably never want to do all of them. Adding your favorites to what you already do is another option. 
Or, just study how the athletes move through the warm-up. Pay close attention to how they move during stretches and especially between stretches.
On the pre-strength section, remember that Jordan Jovtchev is superhuman. Knocking off a set of 10 planche pushups will not be possible for most people. Instead, pick movements from your sport or workout, and do lighter variations or loads on those movements. Design your own sequence of movements that ramps up to what you will do in your work-out. It doesn't even have to be gynastics related.
After studying this video, and adapting it to your own needs, your warm-up will never be the same!