What does this mean?
Often times I see our athletes taking the warm-up as it’s on the board way too “literally”. The whole point of the warm-up is not to do exactly what is written on the board as if it were a pass/fail exam, or dogma handed down from a CF deity. What you’re trying to accomplish is to get your blood flowing, your joints looser and more mobile, and your nervous system in gear to move and to work out. The idea of warming up is basically, well, to warm up!. To illustrate my point, let’s take an example and analyze a warm-up from CrossFit Marin’s programming from a few Fridays ago:
10 Air Squats, then:
5 False grip PU
5 Ring dips
10 Squat cleans
Ok, so the 800M run and air squats are rather straight forward, but what about the false grip pull-ups? They’re tougher, and not everyone in the gym can do a strict pull-up, let alone a false-grip pull-up. Or maybe an athlete can do them but just barely, squeaking them out two or three at a time. What should one do in this situation? Should the CrossFitter grind them out, proving to his/her peers that he/she is tough and can push through the warm-up and complete it as Rx’d? The only thing that one would prove in this situation is that one doesn’t understand the “spirit” of the warm-up, which is to get you ready for the skill training and the rest of the workout, reduce the likelihood of getting injured and to be considerate to your body. Should you then skip the false grip pull-ups altogether? No! They’re probably included in the warm-up for the day for a reason, so simply scale them just like you would any exercise but scale them in such a way so that it feels like a warm-up and not like a one-rep max effort at the very beginning of your workout session. Keep your feet on the ground and go through the full range of motion of the pull-up in a false grip. It will get your arms and wrists and lats ready for the muscle-ups that are almost certainly coming in the main workout. Do the same thing with the ring-dips. You can even add an extra movement if you feel “tight” as appropriate and you’re doing the warm-up on your own or ask the trainer “…can we do ________” (shoulder roll-throughs, wrists-push ups, hip circles, whatever) because you’re a little stiff, cold, sleepy, grumpy, etc, or ask for mobility exercise for a tight body part. Remember that you should care less about what other people think and more about your own health. I often scale the warm-up movements myself, even though I could do the movement Rx’d if it were necessary. The ego thing simply doesn’t play a factor and when someone asks me “Andres, what are you doing?!” I feel perfectly comfortable saying “I’m doing jumping dips, because I don’t feel ready to do real dips yet” I know that there’s an old CrossFit shirt slogan that says “Our warm-up is your workout”, but if you end up straining during the warm-up, you may not even get to the workout or you may injure yourself during the WOD. So stay injury-free so you can be consistent, which is the most important element for improvement, and then you’ll be able to rock the “Our warm-up is your workout” shirt because you’ll be that good.
Notice that in our example warm-up there are two rounds of:
false grip pull-ups
What I often recommend for a section like this is to do the first round a little light and go up in weight or reduce the scale for subsequent rounds, providing a ramp-up to the weight/difficulty at which you will be doing similar movements during the main workout or skill training.
What about the “30 sec handstand”? Obviously this is to be scaled appropriately as well but what is interesting about this element is that we often include a repetitive skill element in our warm-ups for the week because the consistency of including these elements will help you improve rapidly at them. Whatever you throw into your warm-up consistently you are likely to master quickly. So if you want to get better at your double-unders, or over-head squats, whatever, come in a little early and work on them for a few minutes before your “official warm-up”, but be smart about what movements you pick. Muscle-ups are a poor choice for a “pre-warm-up” exercise! If you’re proficient enough at them handstands make a great warm-up exercise, or donkey-kicks if you don’t have handstands. They’re basically stretching and balancing up-side-down. I hope this was useful. We want to keep everyone as safe, injury-free, and happy as possible!