Beyond Training Economy

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We usually talk about things like squats, deadlifts, dips, pullups, sleds and the prowler when it comes to training economy but what gets left out is the warm up.  The warm up must be as efficient and well planned as your training session or you are going to lose valuable time and energy.

No, not THAT kind of warm up...

Most of the “warm ups” you see in the gym involve some sort of cardio machine, some light machine exercises, walking, and swinging of an appendage across their body.  Even worse are the ones that jump straight onto the bench or squat rack and just start throwing weight on the bar and lifting.  This doesn’t prepare your body for anything other than sitting back down on the couch to play your X-box some more.  A quality warm up is essential for a couple different reasons.

1. CNS Activation

2. Muscle Group/Muscle Fiber Recruitment

3. Joint Mobility

4. Elevated Blood Flow

5. Mentally Prepare for Lifting

6. Movement Mastery

All those add up in to the biggest reason of all, INJURY PREVENTION!  If you are getting injured every other time you walk into the gym then you aren’t going to to make any type of gains whatsoever.

Epic Fail

Depending on the person, warm ups can move you a long way towards your goals.  For instance, I’ve been working with a personal training client who’s primary goal was fat loss.  At the time we started she had been working a very sedentary job for several years (lots and lots of sitting) and had a kid just about a year prior to starting with me.  While she had lost the weight she gained from her pregnancy on her own she still had a long way to go to get back to where she was in her cheerleading days.  As a result of the weight gain over the past 4 years, the complete lack of exercise, and the sitting all day at her job, there were some major strength and movement deficiencies.  She wanted to lose weight, get stronger, and be able to MOVE when this was all over.  The immediate problems we had to address were the lack of mobility and work capacity which we integrated into her workout.  Here is what a typical workout looked like for her the first couple of weeks.

Warm Up:

Walk Squats x 60 ft (step, squat, repeat)

Elevated Push Up x 10

Lunges x 60 ft

Elevated Push Up x 10


15# KB Row/BW Box Squat/Band Chest Press x 10 reps x 3 rounds

15# KB Swing/OH 10# KB Press/Band Row x 10 reps x 3 rounds

That’s it.  Even the most basic bodyweight movement was a challenge.  As we weeks progressed we slowly added some volume to the warm up and overall workout as well as weight to the KB lifts.  About 3 weeks in she was deadlifting the 30# KB for 5-10 reps.  Now, about 10 weeks later, here is what her workouts look like.

Warm Up:

Walk Squats x 80 ft

TRX Push Up x 10

TRX Inverted Row x 10

Jumping Jacks x 20

Jump Rope x 25

Walking Lunge x 80 ft

TRX Push Up x 10

TRX Inverted Row x 10

Seal Jacks x 20

Jump Rope x 25


15# KB Pressing Ladder- 2,3,4,5,6 super set with 30# KB Swing- 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

30# KB Swing Walks- 20 ft super set with TRX Inverted Rows- 6 (4 rounds)

Leg Matrix (Squat x 20 sec, Squat Hold x 20 sec, Squat Jump x 20 sec, repeat. Total 2 minutes) x 1

By adding some specific movements to her warm up (as she was ready for them) we take care of all the different categories I listed above and leave the workout specifically for strength training and a little metabolic conditioning.  That workout took about 45 minutes and it would have been less then that except for some questions I answered in the middle of the session.  Now, her push ups and rows in the inverted rows aren’t with her body parallel to the floor, but each session she works down a little farther.  When I drop the reps down low like we did for that second circuit, she walks her feet down even further.  It’s all about progression!

Here are some other great modalities and ideas to include in your warm up.


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