Posted: 27/02/2014 in English, Science and stuff
Tags: , ,

by Jacob Tsypkin (web)

In recent years, great advances have been made in the way athletes warm up – particularly in the realms of weightlifting, powerlifting, and CrossFit. Between websites like Kelly Starrett’s Mobility WOD, the work done by Ryan Brown and Dr.Quinn Henoch here at Juggernaut, and other like minded organizations and resources, we are a far cry from the oft ignored warm-ups of yesteryear (or at least 2005.)

But in the pursuit of improved tissue quality, better joint articulation, and more effective breathing patterns, it seems to me that other important components of the daily warm-up have been put aside.

Along with preparing the body for exercise by raising the core temperature, improving range of motion, and priming specific movement patterns, a well planned warm-up should also serve as an opportunity for the competitive CrossFit athlete to improve their volume tolerance and practice skills.

There are surely a myriad of ways to achieve this goal. Below, I have outlined the simple process by which my athletes design their daily warm-ups.


We use five different movement types in the warm-up. Monostructural/Aerobic, pulling, pressing, squatting, and midline. A few examples of each below:

AEROBIC: Run, Row, Airdyne, Jump Rope

PULLING: Pullups, Strict Pullups, Chest-to-Bar Pullups, Muscle-Ups*

PRESSING: Handstand pushups, Strict HSPU, deficit HSPU, Muscle-Ups*, Ring Dips

SQUATTING: Squat, one legged squat, wall ball, walking lunge, jerk grip overhead squat

MIDLINE: Plank, Hollow Rock, Toes-To-Bar, Knees-To-Elbows

Outside of these categories, exercises typically fall into one of four types.

DEVELOPMENTAL: Planks, strict pullups, and jerk grip overhead squats are examples of developmental exercises. They are not very likely to be seen in competition, but they help the athlete improve fundamental qualities which carry over to the rest of their training.

COMPETITION: Wall ball, Toes-to-Bar, double unders. Highly competition specific exercises, they provide relatively little carryover to other movements, but allow the athlete to practice pace, technique, and timing.

HYBRID: Muscle-Ups, handstand pushups, one legged squats. These movements are important to practice for their own sake, as they are integral parts of competition, but performed correctly can also carry over to other exercises.

ACCUMULATION: Pushups. Sit-ups. Bodyweight lunges. These are movements which, beyond the novice stages, are not likely to have a lot of carryover to other things you do, and are not very likely to show up in competition, but afford the athlete an opportunity for a low stress warm-up which still accumulates reps.


Once you’ve selected your exercises, the next question is “how much?”

The short answer is “enough to practice, but not enough to make you tired.”

On bodyweight exercises, a safe bet is to do 20% of your best for three sets (so if your max is fifty kipping pullups, you’d do three sets of ten.)

For exercises like wall ball, do sets that you are working towards being able to hold in a workout. If under fatigue you break down to sets of 7-8, hold sets of 10 during your warm-up.

Gradually increase the volume of each exercise over the course of weeks and months.


As with most things we do in CrossFit, the warm-up should be varied. A simple solution, assuming five training days, is as follows: In each movement category, have two days of hybrid exercises, one day of developmental exercises, one day of competition exercises, and one day of accumulation exercises.

In practice, a five day warm-up schedule may look like this.

Day 1: Row 1000m @ 90% of 2k pace, then three rounds of: 10 butterfly pullups/10 strict ring dips/16 one legged squats, alternating, 10 knees-to-elbows

Day 2: Three rounds of: 50 double unders, 10 supine ring rows, 15 pushups, 20 walking lunges, 20 situps

Day 3: Every minute for 10 minutes, perform 20 double unders. Then three rounds of: 5 muscle-ups, 10 handstand pushups, 10 jerk grip overhead squats, 60 second front plank

Day 4: Three rounds of: Run 400m, 6 strict chest-to-bar pullups, 6 strict, maximum depth ring dips, 12 wall ball shots, 10 strict toes-to-bar

Day 5: 5 minutes on Airdyne @ 70%, then three rounds of: 8 kipping chest-to-bar pullups, 8 strict handstand pushups, 12 Goblet squats, 10 toes-to-bar

Over time, add a rep here, a rep there. Challenge yourself by including novel and more complex movements, particularly from the gymnastics realm. Eventually you will find yourself doing more work more quickly and recovering from it with ease.

In Part III, we’ll learn our ABCs.

  1. Ken H. says:

    I’m w/ you on the “Exercise Selection” classifications, except for one potential omission. What about lower-body pulls or hip hinge-dominant movements, such as a deadlift, KB swing, etc.?

    • Thanks for the comment. I would say he highlights the “We use five different movement types in the warm-up”. If you do a whole body warm up and you are warmed enough for squats you should be ok with DL or swings. That’s why he doesn’t give a different section for them. I don’t do different warm up for DL.

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