WARNING – Blatant generalisation alert: Your warm-up sucks!

I have always employed a functional, mobility based warm-up with teams and in classes. However, teaching individual clients 10-12 new movements and for them to remember and perform them all correctly on their own a day or two later, is a different proposition.

Many gym based warm-ups will consist of 10-15 minutes on either the treadmill, cross-trainer, rower or upright bike before heading straight to the weights area for a full body workout. I can’t lie, I have given many a warm-up like this during my time in Spirit. Depending on the client, the type of workout and the time they will train, I still will…..to an extent.

Many clients don’t realise the importance of mobility in relation to their program goals and risk of injury. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT.

Poor hip and shoulder mobility will not only limit your movement around those joints but can cause pain and injury stopping you from using the gym at all, pushing you further from your goals than when you started. Not ideal.


Any warm-up protocol should be based around the following principles:

  • Increase core temperature

The more you move the more heat you generate, the greater blood flow and the easier it is to move your muscles and joints.

  • Mobilise and/or stabilise joints

Mobilising joints such as the ankles and the hips can aid ROM on big lifts like squats and lunges. Stability is required in the shoulder and knees moreso.

  • Excite the CNS (Central Nervous System)

Ever wake up in the morning and you lose balance or stub your toe really easily? The connection between brain and body needs to be awakened.

  • Hit specific movement patterns

If you’re going to squat, squat! If you are going to hit some Turkish Get-Ups stabilise the core and shoulders and maybe complete some reps with lighter loads than your workout calls for. Be ready!

  • Injury prevention (Pre-Hab) where necessary

Not applicable to everyone but a person with a previously injured ankle may need to foam roll the calves and shin prior to starting their warm-up properly. This would be for areas that require special attention and wouldn’t be compulsory.

In the table below I have highlighted why I am performing certain movements/exercises and the reps to be completed.

Pre-Hab first Can involve foam rolling or joint specific mobility on a previously injured area 5-10 mins or whatever is deemed necessary
Kneeling T-Rotation Mobilise the T-spine and shoulder girdle 6-8 reps each side
Kneeling Bird-Dogs Activate the core musculature to maintain a neutral spine while arms and legs move 6-8 reps each side
Lying Double Leg Glute Bridge Activate the glute muscles 10-12 reps
Alternate “Groiners” with Drop and Rotation Mobilise the hips, shoulders and lumbar spine 6-8 reps each side
Body Weight Squats Hit the squat movement pattern 10-12 reps
Alternate T-Press-Up Press-Up movement pattern, core activation and shoulder stability 4-5 reps each side with a press-up, 6-8 reps each side without
Alternate “Pigeon” with Overhead Reach Mobilise the hips and shoulders 6-8 reps each side
Single Leg Mountain Climbers(Insert any cardio movement here for variety) Elevate Heart + Breathing Rate 15 sec’s or 10 reps each leg
Jump Squats CNS ActivationWakey wakey nervous system! 8-10 reps

I won’t take any credit for the design of the warm-up in the video. My colleague, Gary, did this in this class and I robbed it from there, put my own spin on it, and have been using it for my classes and personal training sessions since. He robbed it from the article referenced below on http://www.thePTDC.com. It takes less than 10 minutes and is gradual in nature that you are ready for your workout without feeling bolloxed after it!

Try it for yourself – simply pause the video after I demo the movement, complete the reps stated and watch the next movement and repeat.



  1. http://www.theptdc.com/2015/04/how-to-design-better-warm-ups-for-small-group-training-programs/