Warm ups & how a good one will make you more fit

Hopefully I didn’t completely lose all of you with the first two words of the blog title this week.

I know that a large percentage of CrossFitters don’t enjoy the warm up, but I’m hoping that by the end of this blog post, if you make it to the end, I’ll have changed your minds as to why it’s so important.

I went to an athlete camp a few weeks ago and we spent almost two hours talking about warming up correctly for different types of workouts and what some of the benefits were of doing this work and one thing specifically jumped out at me that I thought I’d share with the masses.

Before we go any further, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Not only is a warm up good for you to make sure you don’t get injured and to help you perform your best in the workout each day, but it is also helping to build your aerobic base (many of you would call this endurance) and also helping you teach your body to burn fat.

Without getting too scientific on you, doing long and slow work with a slightly elevated heart rate (sounds like our warm up, right?) will help you build your endurance over time.

The perfect example of this is a guy named Rich Froning, 5-time CrossFit Games Individual Champion.

It is well documented that Rich has a tendency to do 5-8 workouts a day and take only a handful of rest days each year, and when I say a handful, I mean like less than 5.

Now, stick with me here, we’re going to do a little math.

What does Rich most likely do each time he works out?

High five if you said “warm up”!

If he does a modest warm up for a CrossFit Games level athlete, he is spending at least 15 minutes each time he works out. A proper warm up, especially the first one of the day for an athlete of this level and who is performing this much volume should be more like 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Now 15 minutes x 5 workouts a day (modest estimate) x 360 days of training a year = 450 hours of warm up a year!!! And please don’t forget that this is most likely a very low estimate because I highly doubt he only warms up for 15 minutes on average per workout and he is often times doing more than 5 workouts a day.

That means that Rich spends twice as much time warming up (doing long and slow work with a slightly elevated heart rate aka “building his endurance”) as most people spend on fitness in an entire year (4 hours a week x 52 weeks = 208 hours).

I know, I know, he’s got all the time in the world to workout because he gets paid to be fit for a living and you have a “real job” and family obligations and blah, blah, blah…

The point of this wasn’t to tell you that you don’t dedicate enough time to fitness.

The point was to explain to you that doing the warm up and being focused on getting your body working with an elevated heart rate and sweating by the end of it is actually going to improve your overall fitness.

The warm up is a great time to socialize, but it also needs to be taken as a serious time to make some improvement. If you’re talking to your friend, you should at least have a little shortness of breath and have sweat dripping down your face.

By staying focused at the task and hand and preparing yourself for the workout ahead with a solid warm up, you will see huge dividends in your endurance during long workouts and also your physical appearance.

Next time, I’ll touch on how building a better aerobic base helps you become leaner, but for now just take my word for it and get moving in the warm up, don’t just go through the motions.

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