My warmup as of today…

Several folks on Fitocracy have asked me for additional details about my warmup. I don’t claim to know anything objective about proper warmups… I have done some reading, made some choices, and this is what’s working for me right now. Like everything else in my exercise world, the warmup is a work-in-progress and will probably look different a year from now.

As I’ve mentioned many times, my primary source for exercise is the book You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises, by Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark (aka YAYOG). One of my few criticisms of this excellent book is that he does not mention any sort of warm-up period. I’ve heard that Mark is working on a second book, perhaps to be published toward the end of 2012, and I’m hoping that it will include information about warming up for the workouts.

Any time estimates in the book for how long a given workout might last (20-40 minutes seems to be his usual prediction) should be lengthened by however long your warmup lasts. My warmup started out lasting about 10 minutes and is now up to 30 minutes. Granted, I’m in the midst of a very hard push right now, and I expect this time to end up closer to the 20 minute mark long term.

At any rate, when I was part way through my second YAYOG cycle (each of which lasts either 10 or 4 weeks), I realized that I should probably be getting warmed up before the increasingly intense workouts I was doing. I searched online and asked around on fitocracy, but heard nothing very consistent. I did realize that “stretching” and “warmup” are not equal terms, though they are used interchangeably fairly often. I’ve heard, and believe, that the kind of static stretches I was used to seeing in years gone by are better when performed after your workout, when you are already warmed up and your joints and muscles presumably a bit more limber.

As I grew more frustrated in my online searches, I switched to looking for a well-reviewed book on warming up for exercise, and settled on Dynamic Stretching: The Revolutionary New Warm-up Method to Improve Power, Performance and Range of Motion by Mark Kovacs. When I first started trying out some of the movements in this book, I was put off by numerous typos and odd mistakes in the text, such as the repeated repetition count of “10 yards” (how do you do 10 yards of reps?), and how long it took me to look up each movement in the directory. However, after I hit on the method of taking notes on individual index cards for each selected movement, I was able to assemble a ‘flip card’ deck that let me get moving and stop looking up oddly-named movements over and over again. The book’s structure makes perfect sense from an information architecture perspective; it just means that your first full warmup won’t be a matter of flipping open the book and starting.

So… after that long preamble, here’s a description of my current warm-up. Please discount all of the pull-up and chin-up counts; I’m in the midst of a fitocracy.com challenge to do 1500 pull-ups in May, so I’ve piled a bunch into the warmup so that I don’t have so many to do later on. I’ll probably drop back to 5-10 chins per day later on. These descriptions are my own abbreviated notes… the book goes into much more detail of course. I’ll put “[DS]” after each item that comes from the Dynamic Stretching book.

  1. Toe walk: stand on toes, step forward on toes, dipping your foot nearly flat, then raising to a full toe stand as you slowly walk forward. [DS]
  2. Heel walk: raise your toes off the ground and attempt to walk across the room with your toes in the air.  [DS]
  3. Wide-arm push-ups – 10 reps
  4. Chin-ups – 5 reps
  5. Knee-to-chest walk: raise knee to rib cage, hold knee with hands, then rise up slowly on toes of other foot, hold for 3 seconds, then step forward, releasing knee, and switching to raising other knee.  [DS]
  6. Straight-leg raise: like knee-to-chest, but hold leg out straight with no help from hands, trying to get leg as high as possible
  7. Inchworm: lean forward and place hands on ground, keeping knees straight. You’ll be in something like the yoga “downward dog” pose. Walk your hands out like you would for an ab walk-out, and when you’ve walked them out about 24 inches, tip-toe your feet up toward your hands as far as you can, then repeat across the room.  [DS]
  8. Wide-arm push-ups – 10 reps
  9. Pull-ups – 5 reps
  10. Knee-raise-twist: raise one knee toward opposite shoulder, while slowly turning arms and shoulders in the other direction, then reverse. 20 reps
  11. Sumo squat – 10 reps, 3-second holds at bottom (I think this is similar to Horse Stance). Great chance to brush your cat if you have one (at least, my long-hair domestic cat never misses a chance for a brushing during this move)
  12. Wide-arm push-ups – 10-14 reps
  13. Chin-ups – 5 reps
  14. Bear crawl or spiderman crawl  [DS]
  15. Carioca: raise knee, swing foot around outside of opposite knee and slightly forward, stepping down, then switching feet to dance slowly forward. Does good things for my hips. When you’ve progressed across the room, reverse direction, stepping backwards. Does good things for balance.  [DS]
  16. Wipers: Do exaggerated ‘karate chop’ movements with your arms while squatting, one arm up and one back during each squat.  [modified DS: None of these included bodyweight squats in the book] – 10 reps
  17. Chin-up – 5 reps
  18. Cheerleaders: arms go from near feet at bottom of squat, outwards and up as if you’re flapping your arms the way kids mimic birds flying, ending with your arms fully overhead as you stand out of the squat  [DS] – 10 reps
  19. Hugs: Arms out to the sides as far as you can get them, then slowly back until you’re hugging your own shoulders, as you descend into the bottom of the squat, then back out – 10 reps
  20. Pull-up – 5 reps
  21. Walking lunge: step forward into a deep lunge, stopping with your trailing knee just about to touch the ground. Hold the bottom position with your arms folded in front of you and elbows extended like the ‘genie in the bottle’ pose, then twist once to the left and once to the right, then continue to step forward, switching legs and repeating 10 steps.  [DS]
  22. Empty can: Do a wide-knee squat, holding your arms our with palms up as if you’re filling two cans with water from a waterfall. As you rise up out of the squat, raise your arms toward level and pretend you’re pouring the water out of the cans, rotating your hands until the thumbs are pointed down to the ground and your palms are away from each other. Reverse direction in the squat, allowing your hands to rotate back to the ‘fill the cans’ position at the bottom.  [DS]
  23. Wide-arm push-ups – 10 reps
  24. Chin-up – 5 reps
  25. 1-leg warrior pose: stand on one leg, arms overhead, than bow with your arms staying in line with your torso as your other leg extends behind you – 10 reps
  26. Windmills: stand with legs wide, arms in “stick ’em up” pose but wider, so you’re taking the shape of an X. Bending only at the torso, rotate your right hand down to the left toe, then return to start and do left hand to right toe (this is one rep) – 10 reps
  27. Pull-ups – 5 reps
  28. Shoulder dislocations: see this video – 15 reps.
  29. Chin-up – 5 reps

…by now, I’m always feeling a lot more limber and quite literally warmer and ready to start my workout. I hope you’ve found this interesting, but even more so, I hope that it inspires you to find something that works for you! Comment if you have questions, suggestions, or want to link to your blog with a description of how you get ready for your workout.

Please note that all links to books mentioned in this post are to my Amazon affiliates site and I will earn a tiny percentage of any purchases made as a result of any click-through from this post.

Author: Jorah Lavin

I grew up in New England, moved to the Carolinas in ’98 to start working at what was then a large regional bank and is now a really big nationwide bank.

I work doing intranet content management and intranet site management for said bank. After work, I watch movies & eat.

I’ve been studying Aikido since 2014, and I ride an old Honda Shadow. Someday I want to go skydiving.