One of the least discussed components to an athlete’s workout programming is the workout warm up. This piece of your workout will get your body prepared for optimal performance and should not be ignored.
In this article, I’ll outline how athletes should structure their workout warm up and then share several examples of warming up for specific movement patterns.
Workout Warm Up Components
1. Mobility Work in the Warm Up
If you have serious mobility limitations that keep you from getting into optimal positioning for a workout, I do recommend spending a short amount of time addressing that pre-workout. There are two important mobility keys before working out. First, focus on the specific areas holding you back (see our Mobility Checklist to determine yours). Second, keep this part short and intentional.
2. Elevate Your Heart Rate
Prior to intense exercise, getting your heart rate elevated above resting levels is important. This shouldn’t be an all out effort, but also shouldn’t be easy. I typically prescribe a jog, bike, row, double under practice, etc. Something in the 2-3 minute range at moderate intensity.
3. Movement Specific Prep
Now we want to get into warming up the specific muscles and patterns that will be part of the days training. For example, if we are deadlifting, we want to warm up the posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) as well as core stability.
4. Movement Specific Warm Up
The final component of a workout warm up will be working on the specific movements being trained that day. If we are squatting, this will be doing a set(s) of squats with an empty barbell and then adding weight as we build up towards our working sets.
Movement Specific Prep
The following videos outline what I believe to be some of the better exercises to use to prep for certain movements that would show up in your workout.
Warming Up for Squats
For squats, we want to warm up core bracing, hip mobility, and leg muscles. For this, we’ll work pallof press, sit squats, and 90/90 rotations.
Warming Up for Deadlift
Prior to deadlifting, we want to warm up the hamstrings, glutes, lower back muscles, lats, and work on spinal bracing. For this, we’ll do a lat engaged hip hinge, banded good mornings, suitcase carry, and deadlift lift offs.
Overhead Press Warm Up
For overhead pressing, we want to be sure we have good overhead motion, we also need to warm up the rotator cuff and core stability. Some examples of movement we’ll do include thoracic extensions, prone lift offs, and anti-extension presses.
Vertical Pulling Prep
Prior to pull-ups or kipping pull-ups we need to have good shoulder mobility, and warm up the lats plus upper back muscles. My favorite two exercises to get prepped for vertical pulling volume would be active hangs and straight arm pulldowns.
Warming Up for Snatches
The snatch is the most technical of all the movements discussed in this article. We’ll do Goblet dorsiflexion to improve squat positioning, Squat Y’s to warm up the rotator cuff, and high hang pulls and snatch balance work for technique drills.
Ring Muscle-Up Warm Up
For ring muscle-ups, we’ll do active hangs, beat swing work, and a transition drill to get the right muscles ready and technique on point.
Warming Up for Bar Muscle-Ups
For bar muscle-ups, we’ll do active hangs and straight arm pulldowns to warm up the right muscles. Then we’ll do a bar muscle-up jump drill to work on feeling the body pull AROUND the bar which is a key technique component to bar muscle-ups.