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My sister will regularly tell me that the thing she hates most about exercising is the warm-up. She says, “If I’m supposed to be warming-up, I want to warm-up — not workout.”

The purpose of today’s article is to give you (and her) a better approach to warming-up; one far superior than the typical 15-minutes on the elliptical.

The best part about this approach is that it is universally scalable. In other words, you can approach the warm-up in a manner that is best for you.

More Than Just Your Heart Rate

Sure, the goal of your warm-up should be to elevate your body temperature and heart rate… but that’s not the only thing your warm-up should do.

You want your warm-up to provide the following:

  1. Stretching for the joints (shoulders, hips, and knees).

  2. Stimulate the primary muscle groups (lats, pecs, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quads).

  3. Practice basic movements.

This is accomplished best if you break up your warm-up into two sections: the general warm-up and the specific warm-up.

The General Warm Up

The primary goal of the general warm-up is to loosen up your body. This is best accomplished by performing simple movements, quickly (i.e. biking and air squats or rowing and burpees).

For me, my favorite general warm-up consists of high-knees, butt kickers, and frankensteins. It’s enough to loosen up my muscles and joints that are sore from the day before, while also being dynamic enough to get me breathing heavier.

As a rule of thumb, your body needs no more than seven minutes for the general warm-up.

The Specific Warm-Up

The primary goal of the specific warm-up is to further stretch your joints and stimulate your muscles through the practice of basic movements.

This is where it would be a good idea to take an empty barbell and go through a snatch progression of deadlifts, high pulls, and overhead squats.

Another option would be to work through kip swings, pull-ups, and then chest-to-bar pull-ups.

The number of repetitions isn’t what matters here — what matters is the practice of the movement. And practice is done with light loads and little intensity.

So if you’re practicing calisthenic movements like the handstand or dip, use a wall to balance on your hands or place your feet on the ground as you lower yourself on the rings. Focus on full range of motion while thinking through the positions of the movement.

My favorite specific warm-up with a barbell includes 5 reps of RDL’s, shrugs, muscle hang snatches, and overhead squats.

As with the general warm-up, your specific warm-up does not need to be long. 7-10 minutes is sufficient.


Everyone needs to warm-up — but the approach is what can be different.

For those like my sister, approach the warm-up as a time to catch up with your friends and rid your body of any soreness.

For those like me, ensure focus on the specific warm-up so that you can hit practice each position of a movement.

But above all else, every warm-up needs both a general and specific component.

Approach these components as you wish.


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