A proper warm-up, including CrossFit workouts, is of utmost importance when engaging in physical exercise. CrossFit is known for its high-intensity functional training, and performing such intense routines without sufficient warm-up can hinder performance, increase the risk of injuries, and negatively impact long-term progress. In this article, we will discuss why warming up is crucial, its various benefits, some general and specific warm-up suggestions, and how it may differ depending on the phase of a woman's menstrual cycle.
The Science Behind Warming Up
Warming up prepares the body for the upcoming physical exercise by gradually increasing blood circulation, loosening muscles, and increasing body temperature 1. These physiological changes contribute to enhanced performance and a decreased risk of injury. Warming up can be classified into two types: general warm-up, which focuses on elevating body temperature by engaging the entire body, and specific warm-up, which targets specific muscles or joints.
Benefits of Warming Up
- Improved blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles1
- Enhanced muscle elasticity, which lowers the risk of strains and pulls2
- Improved mental focus and preparedness for the workout
- Increased metabolic rate, aiding in calorie burn and fat loss
- Enhanced range of motion for increased flexibility and performance[^3^]
A general warm-up should take approximately five to ten minutes to complete and increase blood circulation by raising the body temperature and heart rate. You can engage various muscle groups through exercises like:
- Light Jogging, Rowing, Bike or Ski-Erg
- Specific movements related to your planned activity for the day - Push/Push/Squat/Hinge etc
- General stretching
Listen to your body during general warm-ups, and avoid pushing yourself too hard. This step is crucial for preparing your body for the more challenging, specific warm-up exercises.
In addition, to elevating heart rate, and easy functional movement, we have a range of general stretches that you should consider factoring into every workout. These include.
- Cossack squats
- Samson Stretch.
- Pigeon Stretch.
- Back and Hip Extensions
- Hip Hinges.
- Pass Throughs
- Russian Twists
- Pry Squat
- Classic Calf Mobilisation.
Following a general warm-up, focus on specific warm-up exercises that target the muscle groups required for your CrossFit workout. The particular warm-up should last for another five to ten minutes, and may include:
Mobility and dynamic stretching: For exercises like squats, lunges, or deadlifts, it's essential to target hip and ankle mobility. Perform waist bends, hip circles, ankle rolls, and dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and lunge twists.
Activation drills: These exercises can help activate the muscles you use during the workout. Examples include:
- For upper body workouts: push-ups, pull-ups, or standing resistance band rows
- For lower body workouts: bodyweight squats, walking lunges, or box step-ups
- For core workouts: planks, bicycle crunches, or Superman holds.
Movement-specific warm-ups: If your workout includes complex exercises like Olympic lifts, dedicate time to practising your technique with lighter weights. These movement-specific warm-ups will help refine your movement pattern and prime your neuromuscular system for the upcoming workout.
Warming Up and The Menstrual Cycle
A woman's menstrual cycle can impact her body's response to exercise; warming up is no exception. We can divide the cycle into two phases: the follicular phase (days 1-14) and the luteal phase (days 15-28)[^4^]. Although, there may be further variations during each phase's earlier or later parts.
- Follicular phase: During the follicular phase, estrogen levels rise, boosting energy, strength, and pain tolerance[^5^]. Women may benefit from pushing themselves harder during warm-up exercises during this phase, particularly emphasising strength-based or explosive exercises.
- Luteal phase: The luteal phase is characterised by increased progesterone levels[^6^], which can cause bloating, fatigue, and reduced pain tolerance. During this phase, consider focusing more on mobility and flexibility exercises for your warm-up. This style of warm-up will help minimise discomfort and ensure a safer workout.
By understanding each phase of the menstrual cycle, women can adapt their warm-ups accordingly to maximise the benefits of their CrossFit workouts.
A proper warm-up, comprising general and specific exercises, is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention in high-intensity workouts like CrossFit. Respecting and understanding the different phases of a woman's menstrual cycle can help get better results.
Within our Untamed programming, we will generally suggest specific warm-up elements that will suit the session ahead. In addition, we recommend that the first 10-15 minutes be spent with a more generalised warm-up routine specific to your current menstrual phase. If you require any particular guidance, feel free to contact us.
- Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1), 140-148. ↩ ↩2
- Woods, K., Bishop, P., & Jones, E. (2007). Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Medicine, 37(12), 1089- ↩