Movement Prep

The purpose of any physical preparation routine should be to optimise performance in the upcoming session or competition, while decreasing the risk of injury.

Traditional warm-ups have typically included light aerobic movement followed by static stretching, and while this approach is successful in raising body temperature, it does not contribute sufficiently towards reducing injury risk, and certainly not towards optimising performance. One of the biggest challenges we face is that living in a sedentary culture and spending such a significant proportion of our waking day in a seated position, locks down our hips in particular and creates asymmetries in our bodies, which leads to dysfunction. When the body lacks stability and/or mobility, the result is inefficient movement patterns and energy leaks. This leads to both a decrease in performance and to a greater risk of injury.
It makes sense for these reasons, to incorporate components of preparation to our warm-up, that helps restore both dynamic mobility and joint stability. This is the primary purpose of the first block of every session within our training plans, and what we call Movement Prep.

Movement Prep aims to activate and strengthen the torso, shoulders and hips, while restoring range of motion before progressing to more challenging movements. A stable torso is better able to capture energy and transfer force, making the body more efficient at producing power, speed, and endurance. Similarly, optimal joint range of motion enables the body to move as it should, while using minimal energy. Tightnesses around the hip & shoulders in particular, most often caused by hours spent working at a desk, carrying backpacks or sitting in a car seat, result in poor posture, robbing athletes of power and even affecting their breathing and aerobic capacity. Thankfully, there are positive changes that can be made here. Even in a matter of minutes, as part of a well structured routine, much stability and mobility can be restored. The result of this is improved movement patterns and subsequently enhanced performance in the session or competition that follows. This somewhat temporary upgrade, allows for muscles to be used and strengthened throughout a greater range of motion, which helps to “cement” the positive effects of these movements, leading to longer term benefits. 

The first element of our Movement Prep routine will most often comprise of self massage, or what is commonly known as self myofascial release. This typically involves the use of a roller, massage stick or some variation of ball, to apply pressure to a muscle. The aim here is to aid the release of trigger points [or knots] in a muscle, which can contribute to tightness.

As a general guide, a foam or soft roller is best to begin with. Pressing on or rolling over trigger points can be quite painful, but you will notice that if you give the time and gradually increase the pressure applied, the discomfort will subside as the trigger point is released. Where there is no area in need of specific attention, we recommend 10-12 slow passes over each major muscle group before progressing to the next component of the Movement Prep routine.

Active Isolated Stretching or AIS, is the main form of stretching we prescribe in our Movement Prep routines. AIS involves isolating the muscle to be stretched and holding each stretch for two to three seconds. When performing these movements its important to relax and exhale on the stretch, and to inhale gently on the release. The muscle to be stretched is isolated by an active contraction of the opposite muscle or muscle group. For example, if aiming to stretch the hamstrings, (the muscles on the back of the thigh) you would actively contract the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the thigh). As a result of this action, the hamstrings are signalled to relax. This provides a perfect environment for increasing range of motion.

Activation is an important element of Movement Prep to improve the recruitment of important stabiliser muscles which often have been relatively inactive for long periods of time throughout the day. A typical example of this is the gluteal muscle group [three muscles which make up the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus]. These muscles are crucial to ensuring optimal movement patterns. For this reason, special attention is given to the activation of the gluteal muscles, to optimise performance and to reduce the risk of injury, particularly the knee which is stabilised from the hip, and the hamstrings which depend on the glutes to be a prime mover in hip extension.  


The final phase of Movement Prep brings all aspects of the routine together and involves large multi-joint movements which require both mobility and stability. These movements optimally prepare the body for exercises performed under resistance, or for the next phase of the warm-up for more dynamic sporting environments.

Blood Flow Restriction Training

Blood Flow Restriction Training

Restriction to blood flow first emerged as a form of exercise training with Japanese bodybuilders in 1995, but is now more commonly referred to as Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training.  Over the past 3-4 years, BFR training has exploded in popularity amongst strength coaches and physiotherapists alike. Early research identified the capability of BFR to stimulate hypertrophy and strength gains when combined with low-load resistance training but there was a distinct lack of research on how this was happening.  

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Field Sport Conditioning

Field Sport Conditioning

As teams across the country are forced to suspend all collective training, we thought we would help out with a sample session that can be completed individually and modified to suit!
This session includes work in all energy systems to maximise transfer to your sport.
Give it a go and pass it along to your team mates if you think they would benefit. Feel free to get in touch with any questions!

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Repetition Tempo

Repetition Tempo

Tempo is a training variable equal in importance to reps and sets. This programming tool allows coaches to target specific adaptations in an athletes programme and is a key component of a training plan. Essentially, in resistance training, tempo refers to the speed that an exercise is performed. The tempo that each rep is performed at will dictate the total time under tension (TUT) for any given set, and this component is one of the major keys to achieving the desired training response.

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Psychological Resilience in Sport

Think of the physical preparation that goes into an athletes performance; nutrition, sleep, strength training, recovery, rehabilitation are just a few. Ask, is mental performance receiving the adequate amount of time and dedication that it should be in comparison to the physical preparation, and if not, why?

Movement Skills – Acceleration

There are many elements to enhancing speed, no one training method holds the key. Rather it is a combination of components that result in greatest improvements. For example, developing specific strength qualities, is one of the most effective ways to increase the power necessary for maximal sprinting. However unless an athlete first focuses on movement, and in turn movement skills, they may struggle to maximise the results from their efforts in other areas.

Pre-Season in Gaelic Games

We are at that time of year where a lot of teams are returning to training for the season ahead. Of course, most will have different league and championship calendars and will go about their preparation for each competition in various ways. Some will begin with gym sessions only, some will opt for field sessions only, and some will choose a combination of both. Some may even decide to give their players another few weeks before returning to any form of training.

Fuel Your Performance

At AXSOM, we believe that the process of eating should be viewed simply as fuelling the body. In the same way that a high performance car needs clean fuel to perform to the highest level, the body needs clean fuel to be at its most efficient and effective. We fuel to train, fuel to recover, and fuel to compete. This is applicable in all areas of life, not just with regards to competitive athletes. With nutrition, you are not only fueling the body, but the mind too, as food provides energy for our brain as well as our bodies.

Training Variables – Part 3

As is the case when determining the optimal reps and tempo, the training objective also dictates another important variable – the number of sets.
In general, the higher the number of repetitions, the less sets that are required to achieve the optimal volume. Conversely, the lower the number of repetitions being performed, the more sets that are needed. There are of course exceptions to this, but to illustrate how training objective will most typically influence the number of sets performed we will take two examples for comparison..

Training Variables – Part 2

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the total time under tension, the greater the impact on body composition. This is due to greater metabolic adaptations associated with increased time under tension. In order for an athlete to maintain control over a weight for a prolonged period, he/she must sacrifice on the intensity of the set (weight on the bar). This has a knock on effect of potentially reducing the strength training effect. Heavier weights will be required to optimally develop maximal strength, and particularly so to develop relative strength, therefore lower prescriptions for total time under tension must be applied.