Stop Being Dogmatic with your Warm Up

What’s your warm up? Over the course of training, goals change, injuries happen, and we have changes in activity levels. As these conditions change, and our bodies change with it, the way we warm up and the mobility work that we do should adapt with it.

It really doesn’t need to be said. We do it anyways. When something is tight or uncomfortable, there’s a natural tendency to do whatever it takes to get loose. Just sharing some mobility/warm up drills and drilling the point that you should try and play around with your warm up routine. It should change over time as your needs change.
Some things that I’ve been playing around with my upper body warm up:

  1. Medicine ball throws (both overhead and chest passes)

This I’ve found to be really good at warming me up as well as opening up my shoulder. I’ve done the LTWY drills but they did not feel as great as doing something dynamic like med-ball throws. Even plyometric -pushups would be great to do. The dynamic aspect of the movement, I’ve found to really help to be explosive for the pressing movements that I usually use this warm-up prior to.

2. Monkey bar swings/brachiation

Actively working on grasping, being dynamic and pretending to have the superior lats of a chimpanzee has been really fun. This feels a lot better on my shoulder and spine than simply doing a lot of pull-ups/chin-ups as a warm up before a pressing day or upper body training session. The active grip work, swinging, core stabilization, thoracic opening, just feel better.
Lower body mobility stuff:

1. Hip Airplane

This is a really cool drill that I had found out via Powerlifter, Chris Duffin who learned it from Dr. Stuart McGill. Throughout the last six months that I’ve used it to alleviate tightness in my groin, it has worked very well in allowing me to assume the position in movements like the sumo deadlift and wide-stance squat.

2. Bodyweight Bulgarian split squats

Stretching my tight hip flexors while warming up my quads and still getting some core stability work in via the single leg (and elevated rear leg) setup. They don’t call them Bulgarian for nothing.

3. Kettlebell complex (swings, goblet squats, cleans, presses, thrusters)

Here’s another dynamic warm up that is total body. This is really good for if you’re doing a barbell (low-bar) back squat or barbell front squat, as both types of squats require mobility in both the upper and lower body. Just doing a circuit of swings, squats, cleans, presses, and whatever else you want to throw in is a great warm up that can be made specific with the movements being trained that day.

4. Foam-rolling the serratus

For the longest time, I’d simply try to stretch and provide myofascial release for my lats, thinking that they were the sole reason for the tightness in my shoulder. A few months ago, I came across a video by Vinnie Rehab on YouTube, about shoulder tightness and the serratus anterior muscle. I began releasing the serratus as part of my upper body warm up initially.
However, the greatest benefit that I’ve seen from doing this has been in improving my front rack position as I move to a front-loaded training phase for all squatting movements.

5. Single Leg Glute Bridges

Originally switching to single leg glute bridges from two-legged, to have carryover to running, I’ve kept these to work on imbalances. After long bouts of sitting in a car travelling to and from the gym this drill has been very helpful to help the glutes fire before a lower-body session.


At the end of the day I don’t think it matters what mobility drills you do so much as focusing on how much belief you have in them and thus, how seriously you take that aspect of your training session. This goes along with belief in a program. If you believe in a sub-optimal program you will get better results than a lack of belief and resolve in the best program (or a better one).
At the same time experimenting is really good, as it opens you up to new movements. With that, we hope you take the time to reflect on your warm up and try and see what parts of it are actually helping you to improve and have great training sessions. Experiment with stuff, and make sure that each component of your training is actually helping you achieve the goal. Don’t bet dogmatic. That goes for me as well as you.
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