The Open is coming! With it, comes the intensity and fast paces workouts that we know all too well. Sometimes, in all the hustle and bustle of a Friday Night Lights event, it's easy to overlook a proper warm-up. Next thing you know, your heats up in 10 minutes and you haven't even started your usual protocol! What do you do? As a coach, I've personally led over 7,500 warm-ups. Thats a lot of trial and error. I've made mistakes...a lot of them. From movements that were just way too complex to exercises that don't do anything but annoy gym-goers that just want to have fun.
I've taken trial and error and tried to whittle it down to my top 5 warm-up exercises when you're in a hurry. Keep in mind, these aren't the "grab a band and lacrosse ball" movements that we see a lot of in the gym, but down and dirty movements that will help you out when you're short on time.
1. 2-3 Minutes of Cardio: This is a must. Getting the heart rate and core temperature up sets you up for the rest of the movements you do and makes your body more receptive to change. I like rowing the most as it works hips, back, legs and arms all in one movement. (Total Time: 3 minutes)
2. World's Greatest Stretch: (Also known as spiderman or runners pose) Seriously, that's what it's called. They call it that for a reason. This series of movements manages to hit the entire checklist for the three key areas that we aim to work in a lot of CrossFit exercises: Ankles, hips and thoracic spine. The point is to lengthen and strengthen at the same time. Here's how you do it.
Step 1: Step forward with your left leg and lower your body into a lunge. As you go down, place your right hand on the floor so its even with your left foot. Your right knee should remain off the floor if possible.
Step 2: Now move your left elbow inside your left foot and rest it on the floor. Try to keep your back flat.
Step 3: Move your left hand outside your left foot and twist to reach for the sky.
*As an added bonus you can incorporate a hamstring stretch by straightening the lead leg before placing the elbow on the floor.
Perform 5 reps on each side, should take about 1-2 minutes. (Total time: 5 Minutes)
3. Overhead stretch on wall (or floor): Requiring minimal equipment, this stretch and movement is great to free up some additional range of motion in the overhead department. In today's work environments, it also combats the effects of sitting all day, hunched over a keyboard. Start by placing your hands on the wall at chest level, then slowly lower your chest to the floor as you push your hips back. Keep your stomach tight so the stretch stays primarily in the lats. Move right to left and your chest up and down to hit all the angles. Do this for 1-2 minutes. (Total time: 7 minutes)
4. Air Squats: Oh yeah! We coaches love us some basic air squats. When done properly, expect max glute and lower body engagement. That's the key though, the air squat is easy to learn and difficult to master. Treat this movement with the respect it deserves. You know, knees out, chest up, weight on heels, eyes forward. Sixty seconds of these will have your lower body feeling primed and ready to go. (Total time: 8 minutes)
5. Pushup to Down Dog: You know we love this movement in class. Hitting the chest, shoulder and hamstrings all in one beautifully synchronized yoga flow is great. There is a reason we use it so much in class. Begin in high plank, perform a pushup then drive the hips up and head through the arms. Pedaling your feet is great to target each calf individually. Perform 6-10 reps here as well. (Total time: 10 minutes)
BONUS: 6. Movement specific: Alright, so you hit our 10 minute quick warm-up and you have 3 more minutes before your heat starts. Now is the time to hit 5-10 reps of each movement in the workout. If its cleans, do a few front squats and cleans. Pull-ups? Maybe ring rows is a great alternative to save from early fatigue. There is an old saying in CrossFit: "The longer the workout, the shorter the warm-up" Let's take "Murph" for example. It starts out with a 1 mile run. You probably don't need much more after that. Or another, shorter, example: "Fran". I would take 30-45 minutes to warm-up for that workout because I know that I will be pushing that absolute limits of my capability in a 3 minute window. Mobilizing, stretching, heart rate elevation, pacing and transition are just a few parts of my warm-up for that workout.
If you find yourself short on time for a workout, competition or at one of our Friday Night Light events, use the above guide to keep your warm-up effective and, more importantly, keep you safe.
It's not too late! You can still sign up for the Open! Go to games.crossfit.com to register.