How To Warm-up Properly for CrossFit
At The Maker’s Body CrossFit we incorporate a lot of strength training/heavy lifting in our program, and the question you may wonder at some point is, “What should I do for my warm-up sets?” as we don't want you to go straight into lifting heavy without thoroughly warming up.
In case you don’t know, hopefully this will help.
“Warming up is an essential component of training, but it need not be a tremendously creative affair, with lots of arm waving, hopping, wiggling, and calisthenics.” – Mark Rippetoe
Principle 1: Preparing the battlefield
Research shows that for best results in optimal hormonal production, the gym temperature should be 20 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We will take care of this part 😉
Principle 2: Warm-up should be specific
In a successful warm-up you need to teach the body two things: the range of motion you will be using, and that the weight will be getting progressively heavier. Hence, you do the lift you are going to do for multiple sets of low reps. The best warm-up for squats is squats. The best warm up for deadlifts is deadlifts…pretty simple concept.
Principle 3: Number of sets is a function of motor complexity, number of reps in work sets, and levels of maximal strength, i.e. how much weight you will be lifting
The more complex the exercise, the more warm-up sets are necessary. So for instance power cleans need more warm-up sets than say leg curls. The lower the number of reps in the work sets (i.e. the heavier the weight is going to be), the higher the number of warm-up sets. So essentially a strong person needs more warm-up sets as they will be lifting more weight in their work sets.
So when warming up for a heavy set you want to know a) what rep scheme your are hitting, i.e. 1 RM, 3 RM, 5 RM, etc. and b) have an idea of what weight you are going to hit. Then, do the complete range of motion for that exercise with an empty bar first for 3 reps. Then increase the weight incrementally for a total of 3 to 5 warm-up sets, performing 3 reps at each set, until ready to handle the weight you will be using in the work sets.
Lets say for example the workout calls for 5 work sets of 5 reps each set and lets say you know the weight you want to use is 135 lbs. This is how I would suggest you warm-up for that weight.
45 lbs (empty Olympic bar) x 3 reps (1st warm-up set)
Rest as needed between each warm-up set
55 lbs x 3 reps (2nd warm-up set)
95 lbs x 2 reps (3rd warm-up set)
115 lbs x 1 rep (4th warm-up set)
135 lbs x 5 reps (1st work set of 5 reps) Note: If it felt good and you could have done more than 5 reps, increase the weight next set.
140 lbs x 5 reps (2nd work set). Note: felt good and got 5 reps.
140 lbs x 4 reps (3rd work set). Note: only got 4 reps, didn’t get the 5th rep.
135 lbs x 5 reps (4th work set)
135 lbs x 5 reps (5th and final work set)
The idea being to slowly increase the weight and get your body used to the heavier load, but decreasing the reps in each successive warm-up set so as not to fatigue your body. This is just an example and can be manipulated as needed.
When hitting a heavy day in which you will hit multiple sets of the same movements, i.e. Back Squat at 5 work sets of 5 reps each set, the goal is to hit the same weight across all 5 sets however that doesn’t always happen. Then next time you did this same lift and rep scheme, your goal is to lift more weight. It's also important to get enough rest between sets, this is generally 90-120 sec to as much as 5 minutes, but on extremely heavy sets can be as long as 5+ minutes.