3 Quick Questions With Strength Coach Jason Spray

           The warm-up is one of the most important parts of your workout.  The warm-up prepares your body for the stress you place on it when training.  Unfortunately, many people skip the warm-up, or don’t perform the proper movements.   Jason Spray is this blog’s guest and shares some details about his properly constructed warm-up.

           Since 2012, Spray has helped mold 24 players to make an NFL training camp, 40 all-conference players, four freshmen all-American’s and nine who were voted to the All-Freshman team. Spray, who was voted the NCSA Assistant Strength Coach of the Year in 2011, is in his 12th season working in the Blue Raider strength and conditioning program. For seven years, Spray served as the head men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach and was the primary assistant in football. Spray is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. He is also certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the NSCA and the CSCCA, and is certified by the National Association of Speed and Explosion. Spray is also certified by USA Weightlifting as a club performance coach and is certified as a sports nutritionist through the International Fitness Professional Association.

      How many times per week should a high school athlete speed train? There is no perfect answer, but we hope to provide expert advice you can use with your own personal strength and conditioning plan.


Nick Cipkus: How long is your warm-up before a strength training session? What does it entail? 

Jason Spray: In my opinion, warm-ups are essential? part to every good training program.   This is a great time to incorporate weak point/correctional protocols. I’ve always taken to the theory “you warm up to work out, not work out to warm up.”  I’ve seen over the course of my career, a good thorough warm up can help reduce weight room injuries!  We warm up a good solid 5 to 10 minutes before the first actual lift is done. 

Our warm up is built into 3 categories. These 3 categories are warm- up, loosen up, build up. 

WARM UP -The goal of this segment is to increase your core temperature. This could include several different things such jumping rope, agility ladder exercises, dot drills etc. You want to do something basic, not loading the joints. We try to increase heart rate by moving around and breaking a sweat.

LOOSEN UP- Loosen up is exactly what it sounds like. During this segment we will perform a dynamic warm-up, working through a full range of motion. We definitely want to try and increase hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility. Examples include using a PVC pipe while performing figure eights for shoulder mobility and spiderman walks for hip mobility. 

BUILD UP- The last segment is called build up. This is where we would schedule a barbell complex, kettle bell swing,  medicine ball throws, or slams. The objective is to place the body through full speed range of motion, under manageable loads. The warm-up should build right into the workouts first rep.


Nick Cipkus: How many times a week should high school athletes speed train? 

Jason Spray: Speed is influenced by several different factors such as strength, nervous system impulse, and stability. These factors should be built and touched upon daily! In my opinion, linear and lateral speed shouldn’t be touched on twice a week, leaving one day for simple General Physical Preparation (GPP) and stride work (100”s 110”s etc.) This work will only help condition the muscular system that contributes to sprinting. Don’t overthink it, GPP can also be used as a recovery tool. Notice I didn’t say jog. I said stride. Do not train trotters, train runners and sprinters!

Nick Cipkus: Do you Olympic Lift? 

Jason Spray:  Yes we did! Four days a week we performed some sort of Olympic lift and plyometric. I know some people do not like Olympic lifts (which is fine). If you will take the time and teach,  you will see just a little bit every day goes a long way! The Olympic lifts are truly beneficial for athletes. I love how they teach athletes to drive and explode through ranges of motion. After you drive and explode through the lift, you must now be able to absorb the bar and weight. Sports are about being able to produce force while being able to absorb that same force.  You can only produce what you can absorb athletically.


           Warm-up, loosen-up, and build-up. I love how Jason builds his pre-workout warm-up. While we respect all opinions, we believe in Olympic lifting at Liberty Performance Training.  As long as you learn the proper way, we feel there are great benefits. As always, we hope this provides an inside look at several key aspects to a proper strength and conditioning program.


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