Want to know a secret? Okay, cool, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else. Deal? This is how you get significantly better at CrossFit. DO THE CFK WARM-UP! Like the basic air squat, warm-ups are often overlooked and underestimated. If you aren’t taking it seriously, then start. Our warm-up has gone through several different incarnations, ultimately settling on the current version. We believe it to be one of the best, simplest, and most effective ways for improving your CrossFit ability. Three critical elements are focused on each and every day: full body warm-up, focus on the basics, and ample time for practice. If you are looking to take your CrossFitting to the next level, you have to start taking our warm-up seriously.
While it may not be the most interesting warm-up out there, it certainly is the most effective. Our athletes are reaping the benefits each and every day.
A proper warm-up should place an emphasis on the entire body. This is CrossFit, people. We utilize functional movements, which means multiple joints and muscle groups working together. It won’t do you any good to only work your arms or to only work your legs. Pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and air squats cover every major muscle group we have and every major function of the body (pulling, pushing, core strengthening, hip extension). When performed correctly, your entire body is ready to go even after only 6 minutes of work. Often times your left sweating profusely, asking yourself, “I have to perform a workout now???”
Focus on the Basics
Pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and air squats also represent the fundamental movements necessary to perform the more advanced CrossFit movements. We’re talking about muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, cleans, snatches- the list goes on and on.
Lots of Practice
If you aren’t practicing the basics every day, how do you expect to get good at them? No one who can do lots of muscle-ups is horrible at pull-ups. Likewise, you aren’t back squatting 400 pounds with a mediocre air squat. Believe it or not, I’ve heard many horror stories about CrossFit gyms not doing pull-ups for weeks at a time. Not because they don’t find them important, but because their warm-ups only have to do with the workout for the day. That means if your gym’s workouts only have pull-ups one time over the course of the week, you’re only getting pull-up work in one time in seven days! I assure you, no one is getting better at pull-ups that way. Be very thankful for what you have.
Still Not Sold on Our Warm-up?
The CFK warm-up is also CrossFit through and through. Straight from the cow’s mouth, Glassman (CrossFit founder) recommends a thorough bodyweight warm-up that addresses the basics, the entire body, and ample practice time.
“A warm-up like the one we are describing can quite easily become more than a warm-up. In fact, it can serve as a workout for any athlete if so constructed. The idea is to compose the essential features into a fifteen-minute circuit that challenges but does not unduly tax. Over
time the regimen can be toughened to the point where three rounds of squats, sit-ups, back extensions, pullups and dips, even at 15 reps requires similar exertion to riding the stationary bike casually for fifteen minutes and produces a similar heart rate.
If initially you need to use the Gravitron or some similar device to assist the pull-ups and dips, fine. Over time you’ll give yourself less and less assistance until you can do the pull-ups and dips without assistance and still find the work load consistent with a warm-up. It may be
that you want or need to start with one pull-up and one dip per round and add a rep every other week in order.”
Take solace in the fact that you’re performing CrossFit the way it was intended. We are, afterall, a CrossFit gym.
What exactly is the CFK warm-up?
For many, the CrossFit Kinnick warm-up, upon looking at the chart, seems complicated. I assure you, though, nothing could be simpler. Athletes are to perform a three-round circuit containing four basic movements. Thirty seconds is spent at each movement. The clock is a running clock, meaning, once the first thirty seconds is up, the next thirty seconds starts immediately. Like a workout, this punishes athletes for slow transition times.
During the thirty seconds you’ll be able to perform as many reps of the given movement as you’d like. Rather than designating a specific number of reps, we opted for the designated time frame to 1) keep people moving at a steady pace, and 2) allow our more developed athletes to do more and our less developed athletes to do less. We do, however, have goals we’d like you to meet. The “qualifier” row on the chart gives athletes a base number of reps to shoot for. For those beginners struggling to achieve much in the warm-up, the qualifier level is a great goal. For everyone else, the qualifier level represents the bare minimum reps that should be performed for each movement. The first number in each row is for the men. The second is for the women.
If you are able to successfully perform the “qualifier” level reps for all three rounds of the warm-up, you are able to move on to the next warm-up day. Our warm-up consists of 5 unique days. Assuming you come to the gym 5 days a week, and you successfully reach the “qualifier” level reps for each movement and each round, you will be able to make it through all 5 days of the warm-up in a single week. If you only come 2 or 3 days a week, you will only be able to make it up to those days for the warm-up. Each new week represents a fresh start. All athletes must start back at Day 1.
But what if you can’t do the qualifier movement? At this time please direct your attention to the “prep” row, located just above the “qualifier” level. This level is for those unable to perform a given movement for any of the days. You don’t need to perform the entire “prep” level, only the movement that is giving you trouble. Once you are able to hit the assigned “prep” number of reps for each thirty second interval for all three rounds of the warm-up, you may attempt the qualifier movement. Remember though, you can’t move on to Day 2 unless you successfully perform the “qualifier” level reps for all three rounds of the warm-up. Three qualifier movements and one prep movement does not mean you can move on. Athletes unable to perform the minimum qualifier reps don’t have any business moving on to the more difficult movements, as represented in the latter days.
Lastly, if the qualifier level becomes too easy, and it will assuming consistent hard work and effort, the warm-up also offers more difficult versions. The different color levels (“Blue”, for example) allow for athletes to continue to challenge themselves with greater reps. I highly encourage everyone to push themselves to try and successfully complete one of the color levels for all days of the warm-up. Once that happens, start back over on Day 1 attempting the next color. If you do not complete all of the reps for one of the colors, don’t fear. You can still move onto the next day assuming you’ve at least completed the minimum requirements of the “qualifier” level.
Still a Little Confused?
Think of the warm-up more in terms of a workout.
3 rounds for reps of:
Pull-ups, 30 seconds
Push-ups, 30 seconds
Sit-ups, 30 seconds
Air Squats, 30 seconds
*You must switch after 30 seconds is up. Try to perform at least the “qualifier” level repetitions. Substitute the appropriate movements for the warm-up day that you are on.
The Big Deal
The CFK warm-up will give anyone performing it diligently solid exposure to a multitude of movements each and every week. In addition, it will also act as a second workout each day. Hit it hard and with purpose. You’ll quickly see your work capacity rise. Yes, you will do pull-ups every day. Yes, you will do the basics every day. And, yes, you will become a beast. And, shhh. Keep it on the down-low 😉