Why do we make you do a warm-up and expend energy before the actual WOD ever begins? While static stretching feels great on your hamstrings the day after heavy deadlifts, it isn’t enough to prepare your body and muscle tissues for the damage you are about to intentionally cause. The warm-ups we create are designed to bring blood to the muscles that are about to be trained, increase suppleness, raise body temperature, and enhance free, coordinated movement.
With a workout regimen that includes weightlifting and CrossFit, it is crucial that you do some form of warm-up prior to jumping into the workout. Sometimes, when the workout is a weightlifting movement of percentages (i.e., 5 sets of 5 @ 85% of 1RM), the warm-up may be as simple as completing several repetitions with an empty bar and slowly increasing the weight until you reach the prescribed percentage. With a CrossFit workout, we try to create a broader warm-up because you are likely to have mass movements. Obviously, it wouldn’t benefit you much to do 10 reps of empty bar bench press, 8 reps @ 135lbs., 7 reps @ 155lbs., and 5 reps @ 185lbs., if the WOD movements are Kettlebell-weighted walking lunges, 400m run, and sit-ups.
You are probably accustomed to seeing movements in the warm-ups that you have seen in previous WODs. So you might be questioning how doing those movements in a warm-up is different than just jumping into them in a WOD. Well, the answer is simple. The stimulus is different. Most WODs are performed to be competitive. Even if you are only competing with yourself, you are trying to get the best time or as many reps/rounds as possible in a given amount of time. The warm-ups are designed to be less intense. They are designed as “not for time” or, in the rare case of an AMRAP or timed warm-up, the amount of time is scaled back.
While on the note of competitiveness, this is an important part of the CrossFit community. Healthy competition should be a welcomed part of any training regimen. The key word being “healthy.” Competing with yourself to do better and be better, or even competition between you and a workout partner, can be the perfect motivator to drive the intensity of your workout. Just make sure that your ego doesn’t become the cause of injury.
CrossFit has gotten an unearned negative reputation concerning injuries because egos often override commonsense. You shouldn’t even contemplate an attempt at kipping pull-ups until you can complete strict pull-ups with ease. If the strength and mobility of your shoulders is inadequate, you are begging for an injury. We encourage trying to increase your maximum output, but when it comes to one-rep maxes and new movements, take it slowly. For beginners, there will be times when your maxes jump 30 pounds over short periods of time, but that doesn’t mean you should jump 30 pounds from one rep to the next. The most common causes of injury where weights are concerned include: lifting more weight than you can handle, improper form (often over time), and failing to warm up properly.
Don’t be a statistic. Be smart and allow improvement to occur naturally over a reasonable amount of time. There is a happy medium. On the other end of the spectrum, you will find a faction of athletes who never want to leave their comfort zone. We want you to leave your comfort zone with commonsense and optimism.
Fundamentals of fitness come over time. Arnold didn’t build his legacy in the bodybuilding community in a few short months, so don’t expect to go to the CrossFit Games or perform at the elite level of those athletes any time soon. Work for what you want, and the progress will be all the motivation you need.