I’ve been so disillusioned with the majority of warm-ups in CrossFit, 75% of the boxes I’ve been visiting over the last few years in Europe have simply no idea what a good warm-up is. Yes, this could all be a personal opinion, but I’m going to have to be firm on this one and say that it has nothing to do with my personal opinion.
I think we can all agree that a good warm-up does not consist out of static holds or exercises with heavy weight, right!?
I’ve seen it all, static holds, and I’m not talking about one of the 4 warm-up exercise being a static hold, I’m talking about all 4 being static holds; exercises with heavy weights; warm-ups that are practically a workout on it’s own; even had static stretches disguised as mobility (while being stone cold); and so on.
The problem lies either with the education provided that allows you to run a CrossFit box, with the coaches not doing their research and studying further, or both. Warming up is priority, especially for new people.
Let me run you through a few things and also tell you at this stage that there is no one size fits all warm-up, it all depends on what you’re doing in your workout, but with that said, if you’re:
- fatiguing the muscles you’re going to need to recruit during the workout; or
- running them into the ground before they’ve even started; or
- including static holds; or
- including exercises with heavy weights; or
- just warming up the upper-body for a lower-body dominant workout
… just DON’T!
Kill two—or three—birds with one stone and include some technique in your warm-ups, focus on the muscles worked, gently get them plus the whole body warm, get the synovial fluid between the joints flowing.
Some great exercises are, but not limited to:
- jumping jacks, awesome for anything overhead and overall body warmth
- hip hinge and reach, awesome for snatches, deadlifts, squats and anything overhead
Add a calf raise after the reach and you’re also warming up the ankles and calves
- squat and pull-over, awesome for mobility work in the warm-up, squat depth/technique and opening up the thoracic
- wood chopper and halo, awesome for shoulders, mid section and rotational work
I include these in my workshops, 30 seconds per exercise and 2 to 3 rounds, 3 rounds if nothing else follows, but I’l usually do some more mobility work afterwards.
Bodyweight hip hinges and squats are always good if you do cleans, snatches, deadlifts, squats etc. warming up the hammies, quads, glutes and lubricating the hip, knee and ankle joints. Jumping jacks, jump burpees, high knees or quick feet are always great to raise the temperature of the body and prepare for more intense exercise, but some of these are also great for overhead work, like the jumping jacks for example, as you want to raise your arms higher and higher as you get warmer, you want to achieve full lockout and pull down with the lats on every rep at some stage. The pull-over, wood chopper and halo are great for the mid section, rotational work, shoulders, thoracic and more.
When in doubt, use bodyweight exercises.
If you insist on something in a plank position, then why not go for the X-mountain climber? Super exercise for warming up and also great for lat activation plus strength—two birds, one stone.
And remember, I’m not saying “don’t program static holds” just program them appropriately at the right time, check out How to Structure a WOD; Warm-up, Mobility, Demo, Training, Demo, Workout and monitor, Cool down and stretching, Provide feedback. Your static holds would go under Training.
Of course things aren’t black and white either, if you don’t have the luxury of structuring your WODs optimal and breaking it apart as described above, then including some parts of training—even a static hold—won’t get you in the bad books.
If you think I’m full of it, this is straight from the horses mouth: A good warm-up elevates body temperature, elevates cardiorespiratory rate, incorporates stretching, develops critical functions/movements, works whole body, and prepares for rigorous athletic movements. We’ll assume that the reference is to dynamic and not static stretches.
I’ll leave you with a few more videos that might give some of you an idea of what to include in your warm-ups.
I class this one under mobility and warm-up, if you go nice and light, or even just bodyweight, pick up the pace a bit, then it’s great to include in warm-up, if not for warming-up, include it in your mobility prep.
Again, a great exercise for mobility, but go light, pick up the pace a bit and it’s just as great to include in your warm-up.
The kettlebell windmill, extremely light weight is great for warming up, or bodyweight even with the same movement.
Around the body, awesome for shoulder warm-up but can be so much more than this as well if you’re working towards getting the bell higher and higher around the body, and switching hand as high as possible behind the back, aim to feed it to your other hand, rather than letting go and catching.
The halo is great for the shoulders, and you can just as well do this with no weight at all and just interlace your fingers while making the same movement.
Teacup, again, for the shoulders, check out our Youtube channel for many more videos.
PS. when I moan about these things, I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’ve been a brainless donkey too
PPS. I’ve probably done everything I’m telling you not to do