HMMR Podcast Episode 310: Weaponizing warmup (with Rett Larson)

For many strength coaches, the warmup is the best weapon they have. It’s a dedicated time each day to work with athletes, whether they make it in the weight room or not. But to really get the most out of it, you have to have a plan to allow you to use the time effectively, build athlete buy in, and gain the confidence of the coaching staff. On this week’s episode Rett Larson joins us to share his plan and philosophy of warming up based on his experience in the Olympic volleyball world.

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Rett Larson is currently the strength coach for the German Women’s Volleyball Team.  He previously spent seven years in China, first as Project Manager for EXOS-China working with several of the Chinese Olympic teams in their preparation for the 2012 London Games, and later with the Chinese National Women’s Volleyball Team, which won both the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Following the Gold Medal victory, Rett worked for two years as the strength coach for The Netherlands Women’s Volleyball Team before leaving to join Team Germany. Prior to his international work, Rett worked with Velocity Sports Performance for 10 years, where he became the Director of Coaching at their headquarters in California. 

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Key quotes and topics

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 3:15 – From private sector to a team environment.
  • 7:00 – Pushing the envelope in the private sector: “You really do have to you have to earn the right to do your own programming by showing that you can also make them sore in the places that you say you’re going to make them stronger.”
  • 12:15 – Building buy-in in a team environment: “I earned the right to do the fun stuff because I’m also asking the athletes to do a lot more of the painful stuff.”
  • 15:45 – Larson’s philosophy of warming up: “The enemy of an effective warm up is a monotonous kind of rigid static warm up that it just does what I think is the just the bare minimum.”
  • 19:15 – Pairing warmups to the rest of the plan: “So any exercise that I could do with lighter weights or with body weight or like core stuff, all of that goes out of my weight room and go straight into warmups.”
  • 21:30 – Warming up for competition and change vs. consistency in the warmup: “We don’t want the athletes at competition feeling incompetent. We want them feeling like they’re having fun and smiling and that they are tuning in.”
  • 25:30 – Games in training: “Coaches have to be salesman.”
  • 30:00 – Putting challenge into the warmup: “The enemy of a good warmup is me talking and explaining sh** for too long.”
  • 34:15 – Individualization and autonomy in the warmup
  • 37:45 – Warming up for the weight room
  • 40:30 – Weekly and season planning of the warmup 

Complete transcript

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