Warm Up / Cool Down

A proper warm-up is essential in ensuring a successful workout. Getting your muscles, heart, and mind ready for work can be the difference between a PR and an injury. If you walk into the gym, do ten air squats and think you're ready for Fight Gone Bad or heavy squat cleans, you're dead wrong. A good solid warm-up is something your muscles and joints will greatly appreciate in the long run. So... where do we start?

1) No Static Stretching. Not only is it pretty much useless in general, but countless studies have shown that it can actually decrease force production and hinder overall performance. Steven Low has written an excellent article regarding the relationship between workouts and static stretching (be sure to look through his new website - it's full of great information). The only exception to static stretching pre-workout is the hip flexor. To quote Steve, "We want to static stretch them [our hip flexors] to inhibit the stretch-shorten cycle so that we can increase the power of our hip extension/hyperextension allowing us to sprint faster, squat more powerfully, or anything that requires power or strength in a hip extension movement (which is almost every lower body exercise)."

2) Mobility Drills. These have become a staple in Primal's warm-up philosophy and, if you look close enough, you'll see most of the top guys doing it as well. Dutch, Speal, OPT... all are big advocates of this stuff. And with good reason - it works. There are a ton of different drills and exercises for mobility, but rather than try to explain them all, I'll be lazy and post the following two videos...

Dutch Lowy's Warm-up:

Catalyst Athletics Warm-up:

Obviously, both of these videos have a ton of exercises in them and I don't expect you to do all of them before every workout. Nevertheless, try to get them all in throughout the week. Varying by muscle group or problem area. For instance, if you're having wrist issues, do wrist circles every day before workouts. If you have tight hamstrings, it's leg swings and kossacks. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you didn't watch the videos.

3) Post-Workout Stretch. If you're not getting a good stretch after your workout (especially rough metcons), then you're an idiot. It's that simple. I can't be any nicer than that. Your muscles are warm and writhing in pain and you just get in your car and drive home. Unacceptable. Again, I don't particularly like static stretching. If you're familiar with it, do PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular faciliation). There's a great CrossFit Journal video with Kelly Starrett demonstrating how this works. I'm sure some of you have seen me stretch ODB or Katie in this fashion. But if you don't feel comfortable with that yet, static stretching post-workout is better than missing a chance to improve your range-of-motion and mobility.

4) Post-Workout Nutrition. Similarly, I encourage everyone to consider quality food consumption post-workout. Quite simply, food is fuel. Generally speaking, you have about 45 minutes immediately following the completion of your workout to throw down some quality calories. Obviously, if you eat something 46 minutes later, you'll be okay. And even an hour later. The 45 minute window is merely the optimum time frame. What exactly to eat will vary from person to person and I'll be covering this topic more soon. In the meantime, try to bring a banana or Muscle Milk or some form of decent caloric intake to refuel post-WOD.

And that's pretty much it for now. It's obvious that our workouts are important, but what you do before (and after) is just as important. Don't waste your opportunities.


  1. Jesus, Quint. I have one word for you: yoga.

  2. Oh yeah, I believe I first saw that word in Roget's Thesaurus. It was a synonym for WEAKNESS.