Why Your "Warm Up" Probably Sucks - The Missing Link

April 14, 2019

WOD Nation Warm Up Blog Photocredit: Jay Watson Photography


I’ve been unfortunate to hear nightmare stories of athletes reminiscing of past gym/box experiences where they were told to warm-up on their own or have the same general warm-up or two no matter what the class or training demanded. When we look at the “whiteboard", the most overlooked, misunderstood, and arguably the most important part of class, training, or working out is the warm-up. The warm-up is definitely not the sexy part of class, most of us want to skip ahead and just do the work. However, if done incorrectly it can compound and become detrimental to your continued development. Simply put, it isn’t enough just to "warm-up" and gets a bit of sweat going.

If done correctly, mindfully, with intention and repeatedly, it is a very valuable asset and it could be the missing link in your training. There is no better time to connect between athlete and coach and to emphasize the proper movement patterns, posture, mobility and stability requirements of training.

The warm-up is the ideal time for movement preparation and enhancement that can increase performance, create better movement efficiency, and prevent the potential for long-term injury. Aspects of a proper warm-up should contain the following:

Specific To Training

CNS Stimulus 

Movement Preparation

Assessment & Diagnostic Tools

Increase Heart Rate & Blood Flow

Increase Mobility

Challenge Stability

As coaches and athletes, we should pay as much attention, if not more so, to the warm-up / pre-activation portion of class or training in relation to any other work we do given the importance it has on the overall health and performance of our community.

Below is a series of videos highlighting drills that should be included in your warm-up protocols to ensure time spent in class is as effective as possible to set your athletes up for sustainable progress, continued success, and again, most importantly, to prevent injury. 

As a coach, understand the demands that will be placed on your athletes. As an athlete, question the decisions made during the warm-up and whether they align with what is presented on the whiteboard.

Core Strength Engagement & Development - Dead Bug

 Movement Patterns and Posture - Neural and Tactile Cuing

Midline Stability - Half Kneeling Position

Balance and Coordination - Utilizing Unstable Surface

Pawel Wencel is the head Olympic Weightlifting coach of at Black Flag Barbell, Assistant Coach and Media Director at Black Flag Athletics, and co-host of Black Flag Radio. Pawel possesses over 15 years of experience in strength training through the exploration and adaptation of various training methods, including Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit, Strongman, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding. He holds the following certifications: USAW Level 1 Sports Performance Coach, USAW Program Design, Catalyst Athletics Level 1, CrossFit Level 1, CrossFit Scaling, and FMS Level 1. He is keen on athletes, members and clients utilizing their strength and movement practice to get outside, travel, hike, and find adventure outside the confines of the gym. His claim to fame is his great set of legs :) For more of Black Flag Radio catch the podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.