If you are not adequately warmed up for your workout, you not only sacrifice performance, but put yourself at risk for injury. A good warm-up will:
Increase body temperature and heart rate
Put muscles through their full range of motion
Stimulate the entire body and major bio-mechanical functions
Help you practice and perfect basic movements
Prepare you (and your nervous system) for intense exercise
For a warm-up to be effective, especially in the context of a group class, it needs to meet the follow five key criteria listed below.
1. Effectively Warms Athletes Up
The most straightforward criteria is that the warm-up does exactly what it’s supposed to: raise core temperature and prepare the soft tissue and joints for more intense training. By the time the warm-up is over, you should have a light sweat going and have moved through enough range of motion that their entire body feels limber and active. Try not to miss the mark on warm-ups by either making them too intense or under-programmed. The warm-up should not feel like the workout, but it also shouldn’t be so easy that by the end of it you still feel stiff.
2. Reinforces and Develops Basic Calisthenics (i.e., chin-ups, push-ups, and lunges)
A good warm-up also doubles as valuable training time. For example, performing strict chin-ups consistently during warm-ups affords you repeated exposure to the movement at a rep range designed to either get you closer to your first unassisted rep or to increase your capacity if you already have the ability to perform them. This is also a time to emphasize that “Practice makes permanent” and you should strive to execute every rep with virtuosity. No matter how difficult or easy it may be, perfecting basic calisthenic and weighted movements will positively bleed into how you perform in metabolic conditioning workouts or when the loads get heavy.
3. Supports the Workout of the Day
Warm-ups are programmed with the intent of prioritizing the actions that will be most utilized during the workout. Deadlifts involve posterior chain recruitment, so it would stand to reason you’d want to warm up your posterior chain in order to prepare it for larger loads. The warm-up is designed to ensure you’re not overtraining a particular pattern or ignoring another while stimulating the specific range of motion required for the day’s workout.
4. Does Not Interfere with the Day’s Training
You should not execute your warm-ups with excessive intensity. You should also not mimic the workout exactly in your warm-up. For example, if your workout consists of a large volume of pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats, you might substitute push-ups for short duration plank holds and hollow rocks for pull-ups. If your workout contains moderate to heavy weighted barbell movements, you might focus on exercises that target the range of motion in the joints involved. The warm-up is the “appetizer” and shouldn’t get you full before the main course ahead.
5. Efficient to Run
Class time is valuable. You don’t want to have to worry about complex warm-ups or excessive equipment demands. By using simple exercises for fixed periods of time you will get acclimated to them quickly and thus require minimal help setting up and executing. In a perfect world you’ll want your coach to be able to say, “Okay guys, hit the warm-up, you’ve got eight minutes,” and know exactly what to do and get to work within a few seconds.