Cardiorespiratory endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, flexibility, agility, accuracy, balance, and coordination: you’re as good as your weakest link.— Coach Glassman

Do you have trouble nailing those Double Unders, Kipping Pull Ups, or progressing in some other area of your fitness? Warming up can help you break through those plateaus. Take it from someone that is still weak in the Handstand Push Ups and the Pistols – by not practicing these skills during my warm up routine I still have to scale them down.

Warming up provides us two opportunities: preparing the body for given activity, and mastering new skills.

According to the American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) Third Edition Manual:

  • Warming up permits a gradual metabolic adaptation, prevents premature onset of lactic acid accumulation, causes an increase in muscle temperature which reduces the risk of injury, facilitates neural transmission for motor unit recruitment, improves coronary blood flow, allows a gradual redistribution of blood flow to active muscles, increases elasticity of connective tissues, provides a screening for future musculoskeletal and metabolic problems that may arise at higher intensities, and provides a psychological warm up.

That’s all fine and dandy, but the main point to take away from this is that it helps prevent injury.

As far as improving  athletic skills, don’t practice it and you will never get it. Double Unders require learning the timing and speed and practicing it to the point it becomes muscle memory. This goes for everything. WoDs will help improve skills but there still needs to be some extra effort put in by the athlete. Double Unders do not just come to a person, and the same can be said for most skills (Muscle Up transition, hitting the “Power Position” in a lift).

Use the warm up to develop the areas in which you’re lacking. If you are someone that has a hard time getting your knees to track out over your toes take the time to really force the knees out and hold it to help build the Sartorius (adductor) muscle. Practice climbing the rope or learning how to lock your feet into place while ascending the rope. Practice the Burgener Warm Up: Coach Burgener recommends executing the Burgener Warm Up every single day to aid in the Olympic Lifts. Similarly, if you choose to do 20 Kettlebell Swings you can be assured that when a “Helen” or “Filthy Fifty” pops up you will be better prepared for it.

Warming up is a crucial element to your success as an athlete for injury prevention, preparing for a ME (Max Effort) lift, or working on your weak areas. As CrossFitters we all have weaknesses – every last one of us. So my advice is “warm up; become a better athlete”.