CrossFit Warmup – How to Prepare Properly

I've seen it time and time again, either an instructor pushing their clients too far during their CrossFit warmup resulting in a sub par work session or too little before jumping into the heavy weights.

So what makes a good warm-up for CrossFit?

A good warm up is one that prepares your body for the hard work to come​. There is no real "best warm-up for CrossFit".

As with most things in exercise or diet there is rarely one size that fits all.

Personally I do think that it is best to have a really good general warm up and then have a more tailored one to the exact work session or WOD that you are attempting.

The main points to hit in a warm-up are:

  • Heart rate​
  • Mobility
  • Session specific recruitment
  • Difficulty progression

CrossFit Warmup Guidelines

Ideally you should split your warmup routine into two distinct phases:

  • General warm-up
  • Session specific warm-up

General Warm-up

As you become more experienced and attuned to your body you should really develop a good general warm up.

Every part of the body should get some decent blood flow through. Start with the prime movers and work your way down to smaller specific mucles, legs, core, back, shoulders, arms and the onto external rotators etc.

The focus isn't to push yourself to exhaustion here merely to raise your heart rate and improve blood flow through out the body.

Ideally you should have one general warm-up for CrossFit that requires no exercise equipment(or maybe just resistance bands).

Why no equipment?

If you are traveling and the hotel/house you are staying at has no equipment then you can still get in some pretty tough workouts using only bodyweight. In this scenario it is good to have a warm up to fall back on that requires no equipment.

The other warm-up routine can of course use equipment. Kettlebells, resistance bands, pull up bar, Airdyne, sand bags, boxes even something as simple as a flight of stairs.

Session Specific Warm-up

Once you have completed you general warm up then is best to move in some mobility work and then to your main workout or exercise specific warm up.

One of the best ways to warm up for and individual exercise is a stepped progression in difficulty with adequate rest in between sets.

Lets take the deadlift as an example.

Firstly you coach should take you through some focused mobility training for the lifts to come. 

If is important to "open up" the hips, glutes, abductors, hamstrings and quads before any serious lifting takes place. ​

Focus on exercises like:

  • Bulgarian split squats​
  • Single leg deadlifts
  • Slow air squats

You can also throw in some dynamic stretching and it you have a specific tightness anywhere, some foam rolling may help to release it. 

Once you have done your mobility work for something like the big lifts the next thing to work on is technique.

Being technically proficient in any of the lifts that you are attempting is crucial not only to avoid injury but also to eventually reach your personal best.

When warming up on the lift most of the focus should be placed on having near perfect technique. Now is the time to learn and to help ingrain perfect movement patterns, not when you are tired.

Once you have sufficiently focused on the technical elements of the lift you should then start to progressively increase the difficulty.

You should aim to hit peak power somewhere between 3 to 5 sets. Any more and you risk wasting energy and power, any less and you may risk injury.

Conclusion

Warming up for a WOD or any other intense workout is crucial. It need not be boring and can be done as part of a group to make it more fun. A good warm-up should have you primed and ready for your main session.

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