Sunday 10.31.10

 Happy Halloween!

A Proper Warm Up

In most gyms, warming up constitutes little more than spending ten or fifteen minutes on a bike, treadmill, or stair climber. While better than nothing, this approach to warming up is largely a waste of time in that it will not improve flexibility, does not involve the whole body or major functional movements, misses an ideal opportunity for reinforcing and practicing some critical exercises, and poorly prepares an athlete for rigorous athletic training.

Warm up sets should accomplish several goals:  1) Increase body temperature and heart rate.  2) Provide some stretching.  3) Stimulate the entire body and major biomechanical functions. 4) Provide practice and form work utilizing light weights for basic movements.  5) Prepare for rigorous athletic training be it heavy lifting, sprints, or intense short workouts.

At our gym, we expect more from you. Enter The Compound's Warm Up presciption of performing movements involving squats, back extension, sit ups, push ups, pull ups, cardio, etc. The essential features of our warm up are that they include a stretch and major hip/leg extension, trunk/hip extension and flexion, and pushing and pulling movements.  

Those prescribed movements also have limitless scaling opportunities like assistance exercises for each exercise and might include more challenging movements like good mornings, hollow rocks, rope climb, or handstand push ups, muscle ups, etc. This format allows you to work on your individual weaknesses, and will largely depend on your athletic development, but over time the more challenging movements can be included without being a whole workout.

Often I observe warm ups where we cruise in, grab a jump rope, do some shoulder dislocates and squat a few times. That is fine, but we should not get stuck on doing the same thing daily; talk about boring and a lack of variety that will cause improvements to plateau.  Take a look at the workout of the day we post evening and decide how you can best utilize your warm up to prepare yourself for it.  If you are front squatting for example, you may need to prep your hips a little more than a few bodyweight squats will accomplish. And if you have tight hips, you'd better do a little extra!  There are lunges, and box jumps, broad jumps, Sampson Stretches, as many different exercises as creativity allows.

Look at your goals and see what you want to accomplish. Just like you write down your weights and scores after the workout (or you should be on the website or a personal note pad) do the same for your warm up.  If you want pull ups, as most of the gym does, then work on pull ups.  But don't do the same thing every day.  Mix it up between jumping pull ups, negatives, kipping practice, band pull ups, rope climb, towel pull ups, hanging from the bar, skin the cats, levers, knees to elbows, toes to bar, (need any more examples because I can go on...).  Record what you did.  If you did jumping pull ups from a 12" box one day and you were successful, then the next time you do it stack weight plates up to only 11" and perform jumping pull ups.  That is a solid improvement that is easy to measure.

Finally, I understand warming up can become boring especially when its the same thing over again.  So make your warm up fun.  Handstand walks, throwing heavy objects, tug of war, etc.  The best warm up Brad and I used to do prior to lifting when we were working out in his lonely garage was Ping Pong.  "Extreme Garage Ping Pong" to be exact, which was usually fast paced with the ball bouncing off of the wall, lawn mower, freezer, anything keeping it in play.  And it succeeded in increasing body temperature and heart rate, provided some stretching. stimulated the entire body and major biomechanical functions, and prepared us for rigorous athletic training.  It also made us pretty dang good ping pong players too.  Then we still completed form work for the exercises that day.

And as if this isn't long enough, here's a sample of a varied warm up week:

Monday: 3 rounds
1. Negative Pull-up / Negative Muscle-up 5 reps
2. Push-up/Clapping Push-up 8 reps
3. Overhead Squat Close Grip PVC 15 reps
4. Abmat sit-up with feet straddled 15 reps
5. Sprint 100 meters

Tuesday: 4 rounds
1. Bar Dips (assisted if necessary) x5 reps
2. Rope climb practice
3. Superman Hold 15 seconds
4. GHD sit-ups x10 reps

Wednesday: 5 rounds
1. Front squat bar x8 reps
2. Work on Pull-ups/ Work on Ring Complexes
3.  L-sit / L-Hangs max duration

Thursday: 4 rounds
1. Forward/ Backward Roll 5 reps
2. Handstand Hold 20 sec
3. Pull-up / L-pull-up 8 reps
4. Back Extension 15 reps

Friday: 3 rounds
1. Row - 15 strokes - max distance
2. Work on Planks
3. Handstand Walk practice
4. Knees to Elbows 5-10 reps
5. Jump Rope 30 double unders or 100 single unders

So go out, get warm, and improve your performance through the use of a proper warm up.  cc


  1. great examples craig. All makes sense to me, its just actually doing it.

  2. That pumpkin looks exactly like I felt after the Sat workout... almost the same color.