Every workout should have a warm-up prior to it. Regardless of type of workout, duration or age of athlete. A good warm-up will benefit your mind as much as it benefits your body. But what does a proper warm-up look like?

The way you start your workout depends on what your workout is. There are some basic guidelines but most of it will depends on what movements and what intensity your workout includes. Following these rules will ensure you are ready for the stress you’re about to put on yourself and decrease the likelihood of injuries.

When you come to the gym we always have a warm-up planned ahead. But is that enough? Well, that depends. Part of a warm-up is getting YOU prepared for the workout. So, you as an individual, might need another step in your routine. You might need an extra 20 minutes prior to the warm-up, or you can be one of those people that can come 2 minutes before class ready to go.

How do you know which are you? Listen to your body.


If it takes you 10 minutes into the workout to feel good, if you are feeling tight and sore or if there are movements you struggle with in the workout, then you should come early. Stretching, foam rolling and activation drills are usually what you can spend time with before the warm-up.

I believe there are three stages of warming up:

The first one is to break a sweat. More often than not, this is the one that gets overlooked. Specially if you workout in the morning or right after you work. Breaking a sweat will warm up the muscles, increase blood flow and prime your nervous system for what is to come.

This stage includes very basic movement. A general warm-up that includes movements that do not require technique rundown. Running, jumping, squatting, push ups and sit ups all work. Again, the goal is to sweat, so make sure these are done in a quick manner so your heart rate increases as well. You should be breathing heavier when you are done with this stage.

The second stage is the personal stage. This is when you take care of your own movement mechanics. Is there a routine you like doing? Some movements you feel like you need to do before you workout? Stretches that help you on your limited range of motion in a certain area? Here is when you do it.

This may include overhead band stretches, inch worms, cook squats or hip bridges. It is also a good stage for you to notice what your body feels like today. If you like doing cook squats and you notice your shoulders are sore compared to what it usually feels like, you can address that. It’s important to be consistent here.

If the workout involves heavy weights, make the warm-up longer. If it’s light and cardio-like, you don’t need as much time getting prepared.


The last stage involves a specific warm up. Are you doing deadlifts in the workout? Maybe you want to do some light kettlebell swings. Overhead squats on the strength? Wall walks can help you here. The goal is to put emphasis on the patterns of movements that will be done in the workout.

This stage is very important. It is not enough to do light snatches as a warm-up for a snatch drill. That might cause repetitive error. Doing that many snatches might fatigue you or overload certain area and give you problems when you are actually doing the snatches. Besides, movement patterns are easier to train and exercise, and it might help you correct a faulty pattern on more complex movements.

A common reply I get to this 3 stage system is that some people might need to do something prior to starting the general warm-up. I believe this is something that must be corrected outside class. If you need to stretch before you go for a 200m jog or before doing 50 jumping jacks, then maybe you need to spend more time self-caring outside of class.

Body AND mind should benefit from a proper warm-up.


Take the time you are going through the motions and doing your routine to get yourself centered into what the workout is about. We have talked on other blog posts about being present in the moment. The easiest and best part to do that is during the warm-up. Feel how your body is moving, what it feels like to do such movement patterns, think about how you will tackle the workout or just why you are here today.

After a good warm-up you should be ready to get your workout in, both physically and mentally.

Have you felt like this after a warm-up? Are you missing something during your routine? Come chat with one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches.


by Coach Matt