Warm ups are usually the part of training that people have a negative feeling toward. It might be finding them tedious, just wanting to get started on the “hard stuff”, or not seeing an intention behind it. I personally think warm ups can cover a very broad range of aspects that can, and should, be a part of a class. There’s general reasons that we warm up that are the things we have to accomplish with them before a workout. They can also be a great place to, for lack of a better weird, trick people into doing the accessories they often don’t take time for.
It’s very common for people to consider a warm up just biking or jogging for a couple minutes, or using a lighter weight before going to your working loads. Mixing these two things we can get a much better warm up, but alone they don’t cut it. During a warm up we’re looking to increase our core body temperature, bring up our heart rate, and take joints through their full range of motion. Using those three simple ideas will just make you more prepared going into the workout ahead. Especially in CrossFit we focus on intense workouts that drive our heart rate higher, so you don’t want the first time it spikes to be after the clock starts. This is just a shock to the system that isn’t ideal to experience when you’re trying to focus on a workout, and usually leads to redlining. The same goes for taking joints through their ranges of motion just so movements aren’t tight and uncoordinated till a couple rounds in.
These are common practices for most warm ups, but there’s a lot of things we can do with warm ups to give them more intention. A lot of people that try CrossFit are coming from a bootcamp style or running background with workouts that are often close to an hour. Coming into the 10 to 15 minute workouts, that usually make up our training, can often make them question if it’s enough. Using warm ups can be a great way to make the hour seem more full without taxing our nervous system, or affecting our ability to put intensity toward the metcon.
If warm ups are something that we find boring then accessory work is probably even more tedious for us. Especially after putting so much intensity towards a workout it is hard to focus on moving well during sets of strict toe to bar and split squats. The importance of accessory work is a topic in and of itself, but it’s something we could probably all spend a little more time doing. Since I know people generally don’t have the bandwidth to group back together after a metcon I take the opportunity during the warm up. Accessory movements and positional work also make for an amazing way to warm up for more compound movements. Single leg movements like Cossack squats and curtsy lunges mixed with core bracing focuses during overhead carries and hollow holds make for amazing back squat prep without tiring out our legs before hand. Unilateral work also helps fix any imbalances we have from commonly favoring a side of our body.
I’m not a big fan of warming up all the time either. If they’re done properly though they have so much potential beyond just literally “feeling warm”. They can make us feel like we’ve accomplished more in an hour outside of the main workout of the day. Also help us give time and volume to accessory work and positions that can make the difference in fixing those nagging injuries or getting to the next level.