In 2003, coach Greg Glassman wrote the article titled: “A Better Warm Up” in the CrossFit Journal. This article drew conclusions on the potential benefits of practicing functional movement patterns as an alternative to traditional cardio warm ups in a steady state. The increased benefits of this warm up includes the following:

  • Raising the core temperature of the body and increasing the heart rate
  • Added stretching of the major joints
  • Developing functionality and capacity in some of the basic movements
  • Working the entire body
  • Preparing the systems of the body for the rigors of the workout

The Original CrossFit Warm up Includes:

  • The Sampson strength (opening the hip flexor in a lunge)
  • The Overhead Squat (done with a PVC or empty barbell)
  • Sit-Ups (on an Ab-Mat)
  • Back Extensions (On a GHD)
  • Pull-Ups (strict/kipping or banded)
  • Dips (on a dip bar or rings)

You may recall some old CrossFit tee shirts that say “our warm up is your workout” and to many people who are new to functional training the statement might be true, but this is not meant to be the case. This warm up is instructed to be done “Challenging, but not unduly taxing” By picking appropriate scales for the movements that fit this criteria, both in assisting the movements or lowering the reps, anyone should be able to do this without an issue. Originally this warm up was prescribed for 3 sets through of 10 reps each movement with parameters that it should take no longer than 15 minutes under low-moderate intensity, the same heart rate you might jog on a treadmill with.

The beauty in this warm up is its simplicity and effectiveness. It works hip with leg functions, trunk with hip functions, as well as flexion and extension of the joints. By practicing the very basics daily athletes can expect to improve positions and efficiency of the foundations. One of the more impressive benefits is the neurological “greasing of the groove” in the motor pathways. This is also a great way to silently build capacity with intensity or muscular damage you might encounter from the workout, an added bonus.

As athletes build capacity it may be appropriate to add some volume or increase the difficulty of some of the movements. Below is a graded progression for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level athletes:

Beginner done for 3 rounds (as capacity increases, raise all reps to 10, no scales)

  • Samson stretch 1 minute
  • 10 PVC Overhead Squat
  • 10 Ab-Mat Sit-Ups
  • 10 Back Extensions
  • 5 Pull Ups (With Or Without Bands)
  • 5 Dips (With Or Without Bands)

Intermediate (done for 3 rounds)

Sampson stretch

  • 15 PVC Overhead Squat
  • 15 Sit-Ups
  • 15 Back Extensions
  • 15 Pull-Ups
  • 15 Ring Dips

Advanced (done for 3 rounds)

  • Sampson Stretch
  • 15 PVC Overhead Squat
  • 15 GHD Sit-Ups
  • 15 Barbell Good Mornings
  • 3 Rope Climbs
  • 10 Handstand Push-Ups
  • 5 Muscle Ups

All of this is very individual and plyable. Balance the capacity of the athlete with a somewhat challenging volume and movement difficulty that allows them to get something out of the warm up without going nuts. From a macro perspective, if athletes are moving better, progressing in skill, and slowly adding capacity to the warm ups, you are headed in the right direction. This is a garnish to your program, an added value in an unlikely place that can accelerate athletes’ progress to their goals, and beyond.