Importance of warming up

Proper grip width – slightly outside the shins.

Over the past week I have whined, complained and bitched a few times about the coaching and lack of any warmup at the new CrossFit gym I joined. In every other CrossFit gym I have been to and worked out at (I think that count is up to nine) there is a clear order of things:

  1. General warmup: this usually consists of some sort of running or rowing along with drills to warm up your joints and muscles.
  2. Skill specific work: at some of the CrossFit boxes I have been to they also use this time to work on strength by either going one round max or doing an every minute on the minute or a classic 5×5 or some variation. But the point of this part of the class and overall workout is to work on your form, and more importantly, for the coach to work on your form to prevent injury. If the WOD has deadlifts in it then this time is spent working on deadlift form with either light weight by going over the movement with a PVC or by going heavy but still under strict supervision of the coaches.
  3. Finally there is the WOD. This varies greatly, obviously, on what the coach programs.
  4. Only one box that I have attended had prescribed warmdown as part of their class, but I try to do it when I have time.

The box I go to now leaves #1, #2 and #4 up to the individual athlete with very little participation from the coach. There is some one on one coaching for newbies on technique for some of the lifts but for the most part the newbies is thrown to the wolves, so to speak.

Today on the CrossFit Journal website under the “From the Vault” section was this video. It’s like another sign that I should offer up to run a “ramp up” or “level 1” course for my new box.

In this video the importance of warmup is driven home. Josh Everett says there are four parts of the warmup he evangelizes:

  1. General monostructural warm-up
  2. General joint/muscle mobility
  3. Specific joint/muscle mobility
  4. Specific movement prep

General monostructural warmup is running or rowings; something to get the blood going. General joint is just that and specific joint means he targets joints used in the WOD. Finally he talks about specific movement prep which is #3 from my list above.

To really drive home the importance of specific movement prep Everett starts to erase, one at a time, one of his four warmup parts if his athletes don’t have time and the last thing he erases is the specific movement prep. This is the most important because this is when he can work on form with his athletes.

It cannot be stressed enough how important this is and it just amazes me that it is completely glossed over at the box I now attend. I abhor the fact that newbies were doing thrusters today without knowing anything about the proper rack position or even something as simple as where you should hold the bar. One of the newbies asked this today; “where should I grip the bar?” The coach said “same as your clean grip.” Well, what if you don’t know where you clean grip is? And wouldn’t it be more specific and much more helpful if you showed the athlete how to address the bar?

Feet under the bar with the bar touching your shins. Feet shoulder width apart or slightly wider with your feet angled outward at about 15-30 degrees. Bend over at the waist and touch your thumbs to the outside of your shin and you have your grip position. That’s what needs to be preached to the athletes, not assume that everyone has done cleans before…

Instead the newbie was struggling with 65# thrusters when he probably should have been doing just the bar, and even more to the point, he should have taken part in a ramp up program which the basics were addressed and his form critiqued. The two minutes that were spent with him teaching him “form” was completely insufficient.

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