| | Warm Up, Warm Up?

Author / John

2-3 Minute Read

Ask any CFFB cert alum and they will tell you about the time and attention that we focus on our warm up series. So much time that we always ask that you get your own warm up before we dive into ours, a pre-warm-up warm up if you will. So, why invest so much time in introducing and educating athletes and coaches on this often overlooked part of training? It’s simple, performance.

Everyone is familiar with many of the why’s of warming up; arouse the CNS, increase HR and blood flow to muscles, etc. All good stuff, all pretty general, and all part of our pre-warm-up warm up. But how often does this type of warm up really prepare you for lifting heavy, be ready for a competition or make you a better athlete? Not very often for the Power Athlete. Your warm ups shouldn’t ever be general. They should be specific to your training day, include positions and movements that strengthen and reinforce posture, increase mobility and challenge stability. Not to mention be progressively challenging your motor control as an athlete.


You get what you emphasize, and Power Athlete emphasizes strong posture and position in everything. This has been repeated constantly on the blog, workout demos and the seminar. Strength training and sport are constant battle to maintain posture and position, so your warm ups must include this emphasis as well. Posture should also be maintained during parts of your warm ups that focus on mobility and stabilization.


Mobility and Stability are two of the most common limiting factors when it comes to progressing in lifts and preventing injury on the field. Mobility is the freedom of movement for everything around the joint. Including static stretching or holding a position in the warm up won’t increase this joint mobility, but implementing movements that challenge this range of motion while maintaining proper position will. Stability is the bodies ability to resist unwanted movement, in other words, control. Include movements in your warm up that focus on proper stabilization of your joints and trunk. You certainly see a lot of stabilization challenges in the DWOD some days, but don’t only rely on doing them when asked. You know you better than us, so if your shoulder gurdle is weak, put some stabilization work in during the warm up. If you can only get to proper squat depth with weight on the bar, that should tell you all you need to know about your hip mobility and stability.


The warm up is also an opportune time to reinforce certain movement patterns and your motor control as an athlete. I challenge you to pay greater attention to the relationship between movements from our warm up series, the squat and every other movement you’re asked to perform.  Taking a closer look at these movements when you’re warming up and the carry over between them all will give you a greater picture/feel for the Power Athlete program. Go back to the last Barbell Step Up demo we had. Guidelines listed for the Barbell Step Up were: feet shoulder width apart, feet pointed forward, dorsiflexion, control through movement, and focusing on posture. Reading the guidelines alone you may think squat, lunge, sprinting or coming off the line in football. Focusing on the proper execution of movements in your warm up that reinforce proper movement patterns goes a long way, and will carry over not only to other lifts, but to the field as well.

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We at PAHQ find there to be a huge gap in most athletes approach to warming up for there training, and people need guidance.  Through the month we are going to be pushing out our PAHQ warm up series in a number of video blog posts. So tell us about your warm ups and approach to getting ready for your training, we want to know! If you don’t feel warm or ready until half way through your strength or met con, it’s time to take a new approach to warming up. Like the saying goes, ‘A boxer who goes in the ring cold, comes out cold.’


BLOG: Pre-Practice Warm-up by by Christopher McQuilkin
BLOG: Warm-up Reflections by Christopher McQuilkin

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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. Cody M. on June 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Can’t wait to see the demos!
    I use a general warm up for all my training, it usually goes as:
    Deep lunge hold for about 1min with internal and external rotation of the front leg. About 20sec holding rear leg up against glute.
    10 air squats
    Pistol progression
    Around 100 band pull a parts
    10-20 push ups
    “Child’s Pose” for about 20 sec each arm
    Arm circles 10 ea. arm
    10 banded goodmornings

    This usually take 10-15 min hopefully I learn more from the upcoming mobility blogs.

  2. Chad on June 4, 2013 at 7:07 am

    I’m thinking of attending the cert again. That was a lot of info so I’m sure I missed some things.

  3. Renner on June 4, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I warm up as follows- Without letting go of the bar: 8reps of deadlift to power clean to front squat to press to back squat to good mornings. Its light weight but gets the blood flowing and works out stiffness but is obviously lacking. Looking forward to the info.

  4. Ingo B on June 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Child’s Pose is the bomb-diggity. A guy once gave me a quarter while I was doing it. This stuff works!

    Do people even say “bomb-diggity” anymore?

  5. jc on June 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    George D’s Agile 8, Catalyst standard warmup-ish, or 10 min progressive cardio (bike, runs, jump rope, etc) and stretches. Always include deep lunge, cossack stretch, and hip flexor stretch.

  6. Craig on June 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Would love to see more of the warmup series from the cert! Also, probably will double dip next time you guys are in town. It was too good. Thanks.

  7. Pat C on June 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    5 minutes on row machine, bike or treadmill followed by the following:
    Done over a 10 yard distance:
    Lunge with a twist
    Lunge and reach
    Toe touch calf stretch
    Knees to chest
    Heel to butt (quad stretch)
    Frankenstein walk
    Elbow to instep
    laterals (right and left)
    karaoke (right and left)
    10 air squats
    10 strict pull-ups.
    Takes about 15 minutes total

  8. Caspar on June 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    My warm up differs depending on the wod itself. Generally i do either a 1000 meter row to start and get warm or 5minutes jump rope practice. Every day i do the burgerner warm up and 100 band pull aparts (these i do for my shoulders, to get extra strength as 1 has been dislocated).
    After that i do specifik mobility training with bands, rumble roller, lacrosse balls and stuff like that depending on what i will be training that day. This differs throughout the week.

    i also include some streching post workout

  9. Rossco on June 5, 2013 at 4:54 am

    I have been using Tim Anderson’s Neuro Reset for about 2 months. It looks goofy, but Almost all my mobility challenges have been corrected. Pretty good stuff, worth checking it out. He has a couple pretty cheap books about it. Definitely bomb diggity.

  10. Andrew K. on June 5, 2013 at 5:33 am

    5 minutes of jump rope, row, bike
    5-15 minutes of foam rolling/lacrosse ball rolling (making sure to hit my calves, hamstrings, IT band, hips, upper back)
    Cat-Cow- about 20 reps
    Hips – fire hydrants (forward and reverse), clams, all for 8-10 reps each side.
    Couch stretch—30-40 seconds each side in both the low and high position.
    Downward Dog to Spiderman to Hip lift to Overhead reach (Eric Cressey) – 6-8 reps each side.
    3-4 minutes doing K-Stars Super Squat Hip Sequence
    Then 25 yards gripevine each side, 25 yards lateral shuffle each side, Sprint forward 25 yards, Sprint backwards 25 yards.

    I am always asked why I spend 90+ minutes in the gym: it’s because my warm up takes around 30 minutes; I sit at a desk all day so I need the time to get the kinks out

  11. Andrew K. on June 5, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Oh I forgot to mention….that’s the lower body one….For my shoulder’s I do this: http://www.dieselcrew.com/5-minute-shoulder-mobility-warm-up-shoulder-rehab-exercises

    and then some the overhead work with a band that k-star talks about

  12. sami on June 5, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Hi everyone. Damn. After reading the above posts my warmups feel lacking. But saying that they work for me.
    If im squatting, dead lifting or cleaning then I do 8 x 100m row as fast as possible with 60 sec rest. Then I air squat until I feel loose and I also do some back raises.
    If im benching or pressing I do 10 pushups, 10 clap pushups, 10 chest slap pushups. Then start the movement with just the bar and move the weight up each set to working weight.
    My warmups tebd to focus on me trying to wake my body up and are focused on trying to get everything in the mode to fire quickly

  13. JP on June 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

    My warm up rotates btwn starting
    500 on the rower or .5mi run or 100+ double unders.
    Then with pvc pipe 10 dislocations, 10 toe touches, 10 overhead squats.
    Finish with:
    5 Handstand push ups/regular push up (depending if the SWOD as press or bench)
    5 chest to bar kipping pullups
    10 air squats
    repeated as 4/4/8, 3/3/6, 2/2/4, 1/1/2
    Takes give or take 15 min

  14. Nick W on June 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    “If you can only get to proper squat depth with weight on the bar, that should should tell you all you need to know about your hip mobility and stability.” – Wait, what if I *DON’T* know what I need to know about my hip mobility and stability?

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  17. Trose on June 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Warn Ups are the best and worst part of the cert

  18. Andres Martinez on June 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    The warm ups at the cert were game changers. Great tools for both muscle activation and athlete diagnosis.
    Personally, at 34 years of age, it seems like 15-20 minutes minimum does the trick.
    Something like 10 mins row, double unders, push ups, etc. Follow that with “”dead bug”and something to open the hips. Finish with mobility for dorsiflexion and shoulder stability.

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  20. Marcus McClain on June 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Guys, can’t say thanks enough for all the great times had at the Nuremburg cert and hope you guys come back soon! My question concerns the duck walk? I see alot of my athletes unable to even do this, I contribute it to ankle and knee mobility issues, what do you think? Furthermore do you guys think the duck walk is a good way to help moblilize these areas along with focusing on midline strength and good squat mechanics?
    Keep up the great work…Mac

    • Tex on June 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      The goal of the duck walk warm up is to sink low in the hips and work on mobilizing them. When athletes get down into a duck walk more often than not they will sacrifice good position to get low. You’ll see them have terrible posture, feet will be pointed out, and heels off the ground. If you are seeing a lot of your athletes having trouble with duck walks, then it’s time to find a new approach to the problem, last thing we want to do is promote these common squat problems. There are a lot of other movements to mobilize the hips and allow you to maintain posture, focus on midline strength and have better foot position. Review your cert notes on the squat and the warm ups and try those to fix your athlete’s mobility issues.

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