Often times when a competition comes up that many gym members take apart of one question I hear the most is: how should I warm up for (insert workout)? This is a fantastic question because it means you’re thinking about how to best prepare yourself for each event during the day, both physically and mentally. Well done! The answer requires some detailed explanation, though. In short, it depends. But, that answer is annoying and doesn’t help. So, lets dive into it.

Generally speaking, because you’re not in class, you will have more time to dedicate to warming up (unless you’re in that 1st heat at 9AM, then make sure you get right to it after the athlete briefing). Take advantage as needed so you don’t feel rushed. Here is a general structure to a warm up:

  • Dynamic movement (5-10 min). Examples: row, bike, high knees, toy soldiers, jump rope, lunge, mountain climbers, good mornings, shoulder circles, wrist circles, bear crawl etc.
  • Mobility/positional drills (5-10 min). Examples: OH pass thru, passive bar hang, single arm OH DB walk, supine twists, prayer pose, 90-90 hip rotations, squat to stand, elbow rotations in front rack, squat hold, scapular pull-ups/circles, foam rolling etc.
  • Workout specific movements (5-10 min). Examples: OH DB walking lunge, HSPU, Clean, jerk, BTN jerk, pull-up, DU, or other derivatives.


Let’s start with the 1st workout. The 3 things to keep in mind are the following:

  • Length of workout – 12 minutes.
  • Load – Light to moderate relative to the individual and the movement. No heavy barbell or max lift.
  • Movements: row, DB snatch, lunge, HSPU/WWU.

The time domain is on the medium to longer side (12 min) in the context of CrossFit workouts and it doesn’t involve a heavy barbell or max lift. This means that you don’t have to really get your sympathetic (flight or fight) system going as much as you do compared to the 2nd workout. This workout involves consistency and coordination on every movement (Row, DB snatch, lunge, HSPU/WWU). Practicing this in warm-up will help you smooth out your reps for more efficiency during the actual workout.

Taking those above 3 things in mind (length, load, movements) we may begin to build our warm up. Take note that each section (dynamic movement, mobility/positional drills, workout specific) may adjust in timing depending on your own needs. For example, if you need to spend more time on mobility in order to get into the positions you need to get into for the movements required by the workout, then spend more time there.

Here is an example of warm up for workout #1:

  • Dynamic movement:
    • 3 rounds: 200m row (increase pace after 100m mark) à 10 total mountain climbers à 20 steps backwards bear crawl
  • Mobility/positional drills:
    • 2x thru the following: :20 sec passive bar hang (move hands closer as you go throughout each round) à 2 per side TEMPO rear foot elevated split squat with trail leg hand reached overhead @ 3311 (make sure you breathe!) à 20 steps (or marches in place if spacing is limited) per arm of DB OH walk
  • Workout specific movements:
    • 5x DB cross body DL à 5x DB strict hi pull (Perform with light load all on one side before switching sides). THEN, 12 per side DB alt. snatch IMMEDIATELY into 5 per side OH (or front rack) DB lunge. May use light load or competition load.
    • THEN, 2-3 Handstand lowers à rest à 2-3 HSPU practicing bending knees and hips when head touches the mat AND kipping first then pressing with the arms.



Time – short, load – maximal, movements – clean, squat, press/jerk.

This workout is short and is testing a whole lot of things, but mainly your strength and technique endurance. Because its short and heavy, you NEED to make sure your engines are HOT. This is why warming up with sprint like efforts on the rower or bike can be beneficial. Then, you NEED to make sure you adequately rehearse your technique for each movement of the complex. This way you your movement patterns are precise.

  • Dynamic movement:
    • 2 rounds –
      • Round 1: Row @ :45 sec for 50% effort /:15 sec for 95% effort à 20 total alt. high knees à 5 per side over the fence/under the fence à 10 russian KB swings à 15 shoulder circles per direction à 10 alt. push-up to toe tap.
      • Round 2: Row @ :45 sec for 50% effort/:15 sec @ 95% effort à same as round 1.
    • Mobility/positional drills:
      • 2x thru: 5 per side foam roll passes on lat muscles (from armpit to lower ribs) à 10 per side elbow rotations in front rack AND back rack (widen or narrow grip where needed) à 10 squat to stand (chest tall, knees wide).
    • Workout specific movements:
      • Clean: 1x 3-pos clean with empty bar à rest à 2 TnG squat clean with empty bar. Do 2-3 more sets of TnG squat clean building in load towards 85%-95% of max load you will attempt in the workout. Okay to backsquat here, but would focus more on the clean.
      • Press/Jerk: 5x empty bar strict press in front rack (if doing split jerk then perform strict presses in your split position) à 5x empty bar strict press in back rack à rest à 3 front rack push press à 3 back rack push press à 3 front rack thrusters OR split jerk à 3 back rack thrusters OR split jerks. Then, add load to practice HEAVIER transitions from front rack to back rack to front rack.
      • 2x 2 cycles of the bear complex. Treat as a progression. Begin light such as 40-50% of max load you think you will attempt in the workout. Then progress to a load such as 75-85% of max load you think you will attempt in the workout.


Workout #3 warm up example:

Time – Short, load – moderate, movements: hang power clean, T2B/pull-ups, DU

This workout is also short and will require some fast/explosive warm up efforts. Wrists, grip, and lats will also be important to pay attention to from cycling the barbell to performing T2B and pull-ups. This is a “GO” workout. You must be prepared to charge.

  • Dynamic movement:
    • 2 rounds – 30 total FAST high knees à 30 total FAST butt kicks à 20 total toy soldiers à 10 KB SDLHP à 20 total steps bear crawl à 20 total flutter kicks
  • Mobility/positional drills:
    • 2x thru – 6 tempo banded straight arm lat pull-downs (red band) @ X222 à 8 per direction wrist circles à 8 scapular pull-ups w/ :10 sec active hang after 8th
  • Workout specific movements:
    • 2-4 min of DU practice. If you have different DU speeds, practice both faster and slower DUs.
    • 2 sets: 2-3 T2B/pull-ups OR 2-3 kipping pull-ups. Practice linking reps together. Rest as needed between sets.
    • Hang power clean progression: begin with empty bar for 3-5 reps then add load to competition weight. Practice cycling technique.
    • If can, perform 2 rounds resting as needed between rounds: 3 HPC + 2-3 T2B/Pull-ups or pull-ups + 10 DU as fast as can.


Remember, these are examples of warm-ups that you COULD do. But, as mentioned previously, everyone has individual needs. For some, this may mean you have a light-hearted warm up with your partner vs. a serious/focused/don’t talk to me type warm-up. No warm up is truly wrong. Regardless, we know you’ll do your best and have fun! We’re all excited for you! Hopefully this was helpful.