Should I warm-up?

Yes—before every workout.

A complete warm-up consists of compound (multi-joint), functional and athletic movement, as well as some mobility drills. It prepares your body for rigorous, high intensity exercise by stimulating the nervous system, and thereby major physiological and biochemical functions, while increasing body temperature and heart rate. A few minutes of mono-structural “cardio” (running, rowing, jumping rope, etc.) is insufficient, as it creates only increased body temperature and heart rate.

Human movement can be distilled to four essential actions: pushing (e.g., pushup, press, etc.), pulling (e.g., pull-up, sumo deadlift high-pull, etc.), opening/extending the hip (e.g., squat, deadlift, sit-up, etc.) and closing/flexing the hip (e.g., squat, deadlift, sit-up, etc.). Movement combinations may be organized from the rudimentary (e.g., pushups), to the extreme (e.g., handstand pushups), and are largely dependent on the individual athlete’s ability.

Regardless of exercise selection, your warm-up should sufficiently—not unnecessarily—tax you, while addressing the four components of human movement. Waiting until the “Workout of the Day” to begin imposing training effects such as heavy breathing, sweating, mild lung burn, etc., is too long. A warm-up, though obviously different and much smaller in scale, must be considered in a way similar to a climber about to summit Mount Everest: the climber would never attempt the summit without having spent sufficient time at various, and incrementally more substantial altitudes, acclimatizing to the thin, cold air along the way. A high intensity workout cannot be completed with any reasonable expectation of success without having first experienced some intensity in the warm-up. Finally, we accept as a general rule that the shorter the workout is, the longer the warm-up must be (and vice versa).

You may use the following as a reference:

The “official” CrossFit Warm-up

Three rounds, 10-15 reps:

  • samson stretch (once each round for 15-30 seconds)

  1. Lace fingers and turn palms outward locking arms
  2. Push arms and hands out to horizontal
  3. Push hands forward and head back, getting nose as far away from hands as possible
  4. Keep gaze straight ahead
  5. Push arms to overhead
  6. Push hands hard towards ceiling
  7. Keep arms perpendicular to floor
  8. Keep palms turned to ceiling
  9. Close space between head and arms by raising shoulders
  10. Lunge as far forward as possible with one leg
  11. Let trailing leg’s knee settle to ground
  12. Push hips forward feeling stretch in front leg and back
  13. Maintain push to ceiling, perpendicular arms, closed arm-head gap, gaze forward
  14. Hold for 30 seconds
  15. Repeat with other leg
  • overhead squat with broomstick/pvc
  • sit-up
  • back-extension
  • pull-up
  • dip

After a general, movement-based warm-up, complete a dynamic/mobility warm-up to help mobilize joint actions specific to the workout. Examples of these include overhead pvc pass-throughs, wall squat therapy, scapular awareness exercises, or myofascial release with lacrosse balls and/or foam rollers. By increasing mobility around specific joints, efficiency of the movements in the workout is increased.

Finally, apply a strength warm-up. Using the movements in the workout, warm-up to the prescribed load(s). In this segment, the goal is to remind or familiarize you with both the movements and loads, which will then be executed at high intensity. Employ this section as a “test,” to see what you are capable of handling in the following workout (i.e., if the prescribed weight is nearly impossible for one repetition in the warm-up, it will probably not be possible for multiple repetitions within the workout).

crossfit warm-up and samson stretch description courtesy of