What is a warm-up? 

A definition straight from the dictionary says this, a period or act of preparation for a game, performance, or exercise session, involving gentle exercise or practice.

A couple of keywords should stick out to you, preparation and practice. Ideally, your warm-up should prepare you for moving your body. 

The warm-up should also let you practice the movements you will be performing for that training day. 

Think of your warm-up as a critical starting point to get an optimal workout.


  • Increased core body temp
  • It gets you in the mindset to lift and move 
  • Potentially reduces target soft tissue tension and stiffening (Loosens muscles/joints)
  • Prime muscle length and extensibility
  • Primes mobility and positioning of joints with multiple planes of motion/ movement variability
  • Prepares and excites CNS for the demand of the workout
  • Opportunity to practice and improve movement patterns before loading them

As you can see many reasons why you should be warming up. To put it simply, a proper warm-up allows you to move better, feel better, and perform better. With your warm-up, not only should you be getting your heart rate up, you should be practicing the movement without load to make it better. 

The old method of just getting on a treadmill to warm up does a great job of increasing core body temp, but that’s all it does. Cardio does not prepare your nervous system to lift the weight, or lets you practice the movement pattern. Of course, you are also not able to work on mobility to get your body in a good position. 

So how do you structure a warm-up? 


Here is a rough breakdown for your warm-up

  • Range of motion and activation
  • Here you will foam roll any muscles you feel you need and then mobilize your joints. Activate the muscles that will be the prime movers that day and work on stability. 
  • Movement Prep 
  • You will integrate dynamic stretching/mobility and practice the movement patterns for that day. This will also include getting your body in multiple planes of motion. 
  • The goal is to prime the body for the primary exercise of the day for you to feel confident in the exercise and perform better. 


Each joint has a primary job in the body, and your warm-up should include these roles. 

This is known as the joint-by-joint approach which was created by physical therapist Gray Cook and strength coach Mike Boyle. It’s a great approach to looking at how the body is connected. When one joint is not doing its primary job, the joints below and above have to compensate. I briefly talk about this in my blog HOW DYSFUNCTION IN YOUR FEET CAN CREATE DYSFUNCTION IN THE BODY

Here is the joint-by-joint approach:

  • Foot = Stability and control 
  • Ankle = mobility, dorsiflexion
  • Knee = Stability & Knee extension/flexion
  • Hip = Multiplanar Mobility
  • Pelvis = Stability
  • Lumbar spine = stability 
  • Thoracic Spine = Mobility 
  • Scapular (Shoulder blades) = stability 
  • Shoulder joint = multiplanar mobility

As you can see, they alternate between stability and mobility, which helps you understand what a joint requires. 

Your warm-up should only be 10-15 minutes, so how can you do all of this in this timeframe? 

Look at your training and the primary movements and make that the focus. For example, let’s say you are squatting that day. You are going to want to focus on mobility for the ankle and hips and work on activating the muscles used during a squat. 

Some exercises can accomplish many things at once to help you save time.

Here is an example of a full-body warm-up with a focus on squats as the big movement for the day. 

Hip 90/90 Switch-Mobility 5
Adductor with T-spine rotation-Mobility/Activation5
Wall Angels-Mobility 5
Shoulder Swimmers-Stability/Activation5
Combat Stretch-Mobility 5
Toe Raises -Activation15
Lateral Squat w/ rotation and reach – Mobility & Activation5
Squat to Stand— Mobility & Activation5
Bear crawls -Activation/Locomotive:30

As you can see you can do combine mobility and activation to get the body prime and save you time. With your mobility, make sure you have the right mindset for each exercise.

The video below can help you have the right intention and not waste your time. I hope this was helpful for you and help you move better with a better workout 

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