The Best Warm-up For CrossFit/Kettlebells

If you’re looking for something quick to warm-up, get things over and done with as fast possible then you can’t go past the following dynamic bodyweight movements:

  1. burpees
  2. jumping jacks
  3. overhead reverse lunges
  4. squats

If you want something a bit more complex, focus more on mobility and a proper complete warm-up, check out the video above.

What’s happening in the video?
First, we raise the temperature, get the blood flowing, and the heart pumping with jumping jacks. At the same time, we’re also working our shoulders, gluteus medius and minimus, and the calves. You want to go easy on the shoulders still, as we’re just getting started, so, keep the elbows bent for now, as you get warmer you can go overhead and keep the elbows locked (arms straight) and pulling down with the shoulder blades and lats when overhead.

The second exercise is the hip hinge with arms overhead. This works everything down from the calves up to the shoulders. The core is actively involved, especially due to the arms being overhead and bending forward. Gluteus maximus, quads, hamstrings, erector spinae, shoulders and much more.

The third exercise is to get a nice deep squat, working the quads, calves, glutes, and we’re pulling the arms overhead to get a dynamic stretch for the triceps and lats (often overlooked). Everything we do is dynamic, there are no static stretches. We leave these till after the workout.


The fourth exercise is about the hips, and rotation of the spine and shoulders. Now, you might feel weird doing these, but who cares what you look like if it’s good for you, right!? I call these alternating woodchoppers.

After these exercises I add some loaded movements in with a light kettlebell, like around the body for the shoulders, figure eight hip hinge for the glutes, halos for the shoulders, I simply let the kettlebell flow around a bit, with a special focus on the shoulders. I tend to spend a lot of time on the shoulders, and so should you, they’re the most complex joint we have in our body.


I go to boxes all over the place, and 25% of the times I encounter warm-ups that just put me off from working out. Things like, static wall squats, the plank, plate farmer walks, other exercises that would have been fine for a warm-up if heavyweight was not added, I’ve even seen static stretches disguised as mobility (while being stone cold).


Warm-up And Mobility For Overhead Work

Allow me to interrupt the article and dump right here an awesome drill you can include for warming up and mobility for any overhead bar or kettlebell work.



  • A good warm-up is so important, not just for the body, but also for the mind
  • A good warm-up does not consist out of static holds, or exercises with heavy weight!


The 10+ videos below show some good bodyweight warm-ups that focus on mobility and raising the heart rate at the same time.

Warming up is a priority, especially for new people.

Dear #crossfit coaches, static holds are NOT a warm-up. Movement equals warm-up. Static holds are strength.

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First, what not to do, and tell you that a one size fits all warm-up does not exist. A structured warm-up 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 during the main work to come; or
  • Running people 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 and the whole body warm, get the synovial fluid between the joints flowing.




If you think I’m full of it, this is straight from the horse’s 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. CrossFit

We’ll assume that the reference is to dynamic, and not static stretches.

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
  • Woodchopper and halo, awesome for shoulders, midsection 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’ll usually do some more mobility work afterward.


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 midsection, rotational work, shoulders, thoracic and more.

If you want something in the plank position, 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.


Incorporate stretching and mobility in your workout

At Cavemantraining we’re big on incorporating stretching and mobility work during the workout. A good example is our Prometheus Kettlebell Strength Program which is short heavy reps with plenty of self-improvement time between sets. You can see the full-length workout in the video.


Warming up is important, but so is stretching and cooling down. Don’t fret, I have the solution, check out the video below with an awesome stretching routine that covers the whole body.


I’ll leave you with a few more videos that might give you an idea of what to include in your warm-ups.

I class this one under mobility and warm-up, if you go light, or even just bodyweight, pick up the pace a bit, then it’s great to include in the 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.

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.



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