Warm-Up – Is It Really Worth It?

Warming up has been something that has been up for debate for quite some time. I’m pretty sure Bruce Lee was always altering his methods for warming up, and even further back we can look at how martial artists warmed up, and if there are is any written history, I’d love to see how gladiators, warriors, etc warmed up.

Bruce Lee - Warmup

Perhaps the reasoning for this is due to the immense amount of “creativity” that individuals within the industry can impose upon their idea of a warm-up in preparation. There is, like everything we do, almost no standardization for what is right or wrong.

However, respecting the actual anatomy and physiology, along with respecting what an individual believes (which speaks to the psychological aspects, self-beliefs, etc), can lead us to a more correct identity of what plans of action to take.

(Side Note: I mention what an individual believes, because sometimes a coach or trainer believes some players need to get “lower”, when in fact getting “lower” will compromise the acetabular-femoral joint going into hip flexion. Further, after identifying the anatomy of an individual, perhaps some persuasion will allow you – the more informed individual – to create a better plan of action, thus “the more correct” version displayed above.)

Hip Pelvis

My Own Experiments Warming Up

My own personal background with “warming up” has consisted of anything and everything. I’ve done the following versions in my own warm-ups:

Version 1

  • Foam Rolling
  • Positional Breathing Drills/Resets
  • Dynamic Warm-Up (various movement drills, crawling, skips, lunges, etc)
  • Movement Rehearsal (with empty barbell for example before benching/squatting/deadlifting)

Version 2

  • Foam Rolling
  • Positional Breathing Drills/Resets

Version 3

  • Positional Breathing Drills

Version 4

  • Dynamic Warm-Up
  • Movement Rehearsal

Version 5

  • Movement Rehearsal (with empty barbell)

These are all methods employed for many various reasons: lack of time, excess of time, priority of a training session (to place myself in a better psychological position),

Further, I’ve explicitly done these items for weeks, sometimes months at a time, just to prove a point – that if I truly believe in something, I also have to see a thought process that I believe is incorrect or wrong, and see how I fare. I learned a few things.

For those that are rigidly sticking to your foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and bands, I encourage and challenge you to step away from what the “industry” has imposed as a necessity, and discover what is truly important for yourself.

Let me say this first:

  • I’ve had great training sessions without any foam rolling.
  • I’ve had great training sessions without doing any quadruped extension rotations, or glute bridges, or dead bugs.
  • I’ve had great training sessions with only open loop drills such as skipping, 15 yard sprints, cariocas, marches, etc.

And on the other end:

  • I’ve also had time crunched training sessions where I’ve had to omit a full on 20 minute foam rolling session, and just do 30 seconds of foam rolling.
  • I’ve had sub-par training session where I’ve only done movement drills, and dynamic warm-ups.
  • I’ve had bad training sessions where I’ve even included foam rolling, movement drills, dynamic warm-ups, etc.

So is it safe to align myself with the thought that you absolutely need to prelude a training session with one of the “Version 1” warm-ups listed above in order to elicit an appropriate physiological training effect?

Again, I’d argue that this point is not as necessary, as I’ve seen great training sessions performed with as little movement preparation other than taking an empty barbell, and furthering the physiological quality of strength (with respect to powerlifting, for example).

For what it is worth, I have to bring into question…

What is the purpose of the warm-up?


1. It can be introduced as a marketing effort to distinguish from services and other businesses.

This is not a bad thing. Many may associate marketing with a negative connotation, and I’m here to say that I’ve seen and heard of bad training methodologies with an amazing marketing team.

I’ve seen amazing training methodologies with zero to little marketing strategies employed, and the featuring a different warm-up is simply another way to distinguish between competitors.

It simply is what it is.

Opening Windows of Adaptation

2. Introduce a window of physiological opportunity to help introduce further physiological training effects.

Now this is where I get excited. I’ve used various technologies, both real pieces of tech (OmegaWave, HRV tech) and cheap tech (tracking heart rate with first two digits on the side of the wrist, plus sleep tracking, plus checking grip strength).

The purpose of these technology items is to track physiological readiness (Am I ready to train a specific quality today?). Now, the warm-up can alter, change, or perhaps if done incorrectly, degrade those qualities of readiness.

Would someone like Allen Iverson do better or worse without doing foam rolling, hip flexor stretches, etc.? Or does he just want to go and practice?

The 4 Components of a Warm-Up

Separating myself from the marketing aspect of how a warm-up can vary from trainer to trainer, and philosophy to philosophy, I believe that there are real physiological qualities that can be enhanced, ignored, or maintained as far as a warm-up is involved.

This leads to the next question of, “what are the components of a warm-up?”

One of my mentors from afar, Charlie Weingroff, succinctly put these items into separate categories, and I believe even he mentioned he had borrowed these themes from Mark Verstegen. And I decided to make an awesome image of these in a more digestible format, based off of what he had discussed in this article: Warm-Up and Motor Concepts


Increase Tissue Temperature

There is so much benefit towards improving both the superficial and deep core temperature. Likewise, there is a lot of literature towards identification of how tissue temperature can influence O2 consumption, expenditure, nervous system conduction, blood flow dilation towards the working muscle groups.

Read: Warm-Up: Potential Mechanisms and the Effects of Passive Warm-Up on Exercise Performance

Priming Active Mobility

This is one concept that will need a better requisite of contemporary literature, namely identification of regional interdependence, the concept of passive versus active mobility, along with understanding a scope of practice that many trainers may not adhere towards when providing neurological changes to clients and athletes.


I still believe in the Joint by Joint Approach (JBJA).

Many of my colleagues may feel as if they have moved on for whatever reason. I’d like to argue that while the JBJA may seem like a black and white approach (for a lack of better phrasing), it is in fact simply a guideline that will allow better clinical decisions to be made. In fact, the JBJA still adheres to the qualitative effects of end feel, neurological tone, regional interdependence, and how gait works.

If the ankle does not dorsiflex as you push off, you will get a collapse of the medial arch and overpronation may occur. This speaks to a possible limitation at the talocrural joint, neurological tone that may prevent movement from the ankle-on-up towards the hip, and can even limit trunk rotation.

3 Way Ankle Mobility
Prepare your joints at multiple angles!

If you do have appropriate ankle dorsiflexion in a passive versus active manner, but you cannot control your given range of motion in an active manner, then you will need to do something in order to provide a motoric strategy that displays a greater control over that range of motion.

Total Hip ROM

If my active hip range of motion is [x], and my passive range of motion is greater than [x], well then I may have a lack of ability to control this range of motion.

Seek a method that will activate, and thus prime, your mobility.

Prep Central Nervous System

This is the portion of a warm-up that can be identified with these pieces of equipment/methods:

  • [Low-Level] Plyometrics (Skips, Marches, Hops, Bounds)
  • Medicine Ball Circuits
  • Kettlebell Circuits (Swings, Snatches, High Pulls)
  • Technical Work with Olympic Lifting
  • Jump Rope
  • Open Loop Drills (Reaction Drills)
  • Plyometric Push Ups

Action Plan

Do these if you are attempting to improve upon force production within your training session.

On that train of thought, you can improve upon this thought by categorizing these items into upper and lower CNS prep.

Lower Body CNS Prep

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Jump Rope
  • Open Loop Drills (Reaction Drills)
  • Olympic Lifts (Squat Cleans, Hang Cleans, Snatches)

Upper Body CNS Prep

  • Olympic Lifts (Snatches, High Pulls)
  • Medicine Ball Circuits (Stomps, Slams, Scoops, Shotputs)
  • Plyometric Push Ups
  • Empty Barbell Throws (Smith Machine)

If you want to move weight, move it fast. So, simply, train fast.

[Specific] Movement Rehearsal


Rehearsal of specific movements is something that has been within my wheelhouse for years on end. When you’re getting ready to dance, you simply just start dancing (toprocking), or grooving to get your body warm.

If you identify with numbers 1 through 3, but don’t practice this last bulletpoint, well then I have to ask, “what you are doing?”

If you go straight to movement rehearsal, are you performing your warm-up incorrectly? I’d have to argue no, because you are still improving blood flow by performing low level movements, but may miss the boat when it comes to CNS activation, or priming the active mobility of a given joint.

Action Plan

If you have time, perform 1 through 3 in order to open certain windows of adaptation towards whatever physiological effect you are attempting to improve upon.

Rehearsing specific movements is important because, well, you need to do those prescribed movements later on at a higher velocity, intensity, or with more precision (technically speaking) in order to elicit whatever physiological goals you are attempting to maintain/improve upon.

Warming Up Prior to Competitions

Let’s go back 10, maybe even just 5 years ago.

Let’s visit a powerlifting meet.

  1. Do people have foam rollers? Only a few.
  2. Are people performing stretches and mobility drills? Only a few.
  3. Are people wearing hoodies, sweats, etc in order to “stay warm?” Many, so yes.
  4. Are people getting under an empty barbell for reps? Yes.

Okay, let’s visit a powerlifting meet nowadays.

  1. Do people have foam rollers? Almost everyone.
  2. Are people performing stretches and mobility drills? Almost everyone.
  3. Are people wearing hoodies, sweats, etc in order to “stay warm?” Many, so yes.
  4. Are people getting under an empty barbell for reps? Yes.

The reasoning for these items being introduced to powerlifting meets now involves understanding further education, the advent of information being introduced within the internet, and simply smart training.

However, let’s visit something I’m more familiar with, such as a [bboy] jam.

  1. Do people have foam rollers? Rarely.
  2. Are people performing stretches and mobility drills? Yes.
  3. Are people wearing hoodies, sweats, etc in order to “stay warm?” Many, so yes.
  4. Are people dancing? Yes. 

This is not to point out that foam rollers are necessary.

Rather, sometimes the acute preparation that the mentality of bringing a foam roller with you may be an erroneous decision in the presence of mentally preparing to compete.

If a tight muscle group is presenting difficulty, it should have been taken care of prior to competition, for example. Dependence on a foam roller means something else in the training process needs to be addressed.

Does this also point out a lack of education on what an appropriate warm-up can elicit to help open up various windows of movement qualities? As my Minnesota-minded interns at CSP would say, “you betcha.”

So… What Have You Learned So Far?

These are thoughts that have been in my head, but better worded through various linguistics and technical language that Charlie has allowed for me to explain.

I’ve always been a fan of performing mobility drills, and then quickly jumping into a specific movement (such as toprocking, and practicing footwork to help amp up the nervous system and increase blood flow).

The introduction of foam rolling allows some windows to be opened up, but only if this lack of mobility was not even critical mass to begin with, as I believe foam rolling is simply one other way to improve upon a neurological awareness of whether a given musculature is tight or not.

In fact, I’ve personally been introducing open loop drills such as throwing a tennis ball and reactively catching with both hands (left hand is a little more difficult), sprinting drills, and medicine ball circuits without foam rolling or movement preparation drills and I’m not noticing any difference in my movement quality.

You can always do whatever you want to do.

I’m simply looking for the most efficacious method towards achieving a goal.

As always,

Keep it funky.


Charlie Weingroff’s Training = Rehab 2 Seminar [Recap]

There is a decent amount of information here. Further, I’d consider the following to be only a snapshot into what was divulged that weekend, along with being relatively random as it is a composite of my notes, memories, and pictures.

This blog post, while pseudo-permanent in nature, is merely my interpretation of the information CW provided, along with the understanding that each seminar will be slightly different. Take this with a grain of salt. Further, throughout this post, I have links to Charlie’s DVD Training Equals Rehab 2, in which I am an affiliate.

Firstly, the logistics of the seminar were handled amazingly well. Michael Ranfone and his staff at Ranfone Training Systems ran everything very smoothly. If you haven’t taken a course here, I recommend doing so immediately, because this is how seminars should be organized, planned, and run.


Moving on…

Charlie Weingroff is passionate, does his homework on the specific attendees that come into the seminar, along with understanding how to get his scientific justifications for what he does very quickly, while keeping the seminar itself upbeat.

If you don’t know who Charlie Weingroff is, you can read his “bio” here.

With this in mind, I’m of the belief that this seminar serves as two items:

  1. A sequel to the first DVD he had, Training=Rehab, and
  2. An updated view on his most recent work Training Equal Rehab 2.

Of course, you will have to attend his seminar to truly understand and digest the information that was presented. Simultaneously, I’m of the belief that I cannot fully iterate the depths of the information provided by Charlie during this weekend of events, as they weren’t merely just broad strokes of information – he went in, and he took us for a ride.

[Note: He is hosting another seminar in early 2015 at Drive 495.]

121px-Canada_Basketball.svgTaking a flashback in Tarantino-esque fashion, I met Charlie at his facility in NYC, Drive495, in early 2013. I had the opportunity to chat with him about his personal philosophy one-on-one, along with getting a tour of his facility.

However, after that meeting almost 1.5 years ago, CW is certainly in a different place professionally. He is now using his skillets and knowledge to help the Canada basketball team, along with accelerating sports performance in many other teams across the world, to my knowledge.

Training Equals Rehab 2 – Live Seminar

Many different items were discussed, and for me to disclose over 16 hours plus of information would be a disservice – however disclosing a few topics and glossing over the information provided is something that I can provide.

The first hour or so dissected CW’s personal philosophy of how to interpret information, how to apply ourselves within the fitness/S&C industry, along with the casual interjection of Transformers quotes.

“Learning [new information] is uncomfortable.”

The interpretation I received from this line is that the process of learning is going to be uncomfortable. Information received isn’t usually presented in a pretty linear line, where there is always new additional information being processed. The necessity for creating a filter for information is just as important as the need for understanding, interpreting, and then applying the newly discovered information in a systematic way.

And then of course, there is the process of “Did I do this correctly?” and “Can I improve upon my methods?”

One of the first discussions we dove into is the state of the industry, namely what are the subdivisions of the more commonly referred to “strength and conditioning coach?”

  • Movement Specialists
  • Recovery & Allostatic Specialists
  • Sports Scientists
  • Sport Specific Coaches

Movement Specialists

This can be allocated to the traditional strength and conditioning coaches position. Assessing whether or not your athletes or clients are ready for fitness and performance based goals is important. Coaching exercises from a general physical preparedness level is within the realm of this subset.

Recovery & Allostatic Specialists

If the human body is not ready to provide specific outputs necessary for fitness (life) or performance (S&C) purposes, what is preventing this from occurring?

This is where the question of “Are you overtraining, or simply under-recovering?” fits very nicely.

Instead of pressing on the gas, sometimes we need to remove the e-brake in order to move forward at a more rapid rate. Providing therapy in whatever format will allow recovery to occur, along with other methods that can be done by yourself (foam rolling, utilizing breathing, etc).

Physical therapists, manual therapists, and chiropractors fall into this category.

Sports Scientists

I’m of the belief that this will be the “next big thing” with respect to the shift in sports performance. If it isn’t already on your radar, let this be an informal announcement – interpreting data is important for advancing in the field of sports performance.

At the same time, this is admittedly my weakest area of information, as I simply don’t have a specific route to go towards with respect to learning information.

Start here for more reading.

Sport Specific Coaches

This role has been here for quite some time, and I’m of the opinion that the smartest sport coaches will do their best to listen to the above three coaches for increasing performance.

Without an appropriate movement foundation (movement specialist), how can you task an athlete to drive their knee higher when sprinting, if they lack the requisite joint mobility to move into more hip flexion?

“Getting lower” during skating likewise requires a neutral spine position on top of an adequate amount of hip extension and hip flexion – what do you do if your athlete is experiencing bilateral anterior hip issues?

Or what do you do if your OmegaWave scores (sport scientist interpreting data) are low due to going out on a Thursday night, you have practice Friday morning, and you have a game on a Sunday?

This thought process brings up several unique things to look at if you are a sport specific coach.


Change is going to be uncomfortable. 

(Personal Note: Lifting weights is uncomfortable. Achieving physiological change is going to be uncomfortable.)

Selye’s model of adaptation involves adapting to stress.


[Photo Credit: strengthpowerspeed.com]

  • When discussing improving a certain quality, the idea of specific adaptations to an imposed demand should always be at the forefront of our [coaches, trainers, physical therapists] minds.
  • If change is not elicited, did we at the very least maintain the qualities [of fitness]?
  • “There’s an input… and an output.”
  • Joint position is a sensory input to the brain.
  • The output is whether or not the system (body) can put forth effort for performance based outcomes.
  • If there is a lack of proper joint position, there will likewise be an inadequate output for motoric performance, and lack of input for further motor acquisition.


Attempting to achieve physiological change is uncomfortable. This is the body’s method of “learning,” as there are multiple avenues of providing opportunities to learn how to move.


Functional-Movement-ScreenI’ve always appreciated movement since I was a teenager learning to dance, but I always find the categorization and application of movement based principles to be fascinating. Charlie uses the FMS to primarily identify movement limitations for performance based goals. And he is brilliant at what he does.

Say what you want about the FMS (and/or SFMA), no system is going to be 100% perfect. If you take it for what it is, it is a useful tool used to extract neuromuscular and biomechanical limitations, with the aim for extracting joint positions based on a neurodevelopmental-minded philosophy..

[Interpreting] movement is [accessing] windows of opportunities. Neuroceptive input influences mobility of that specific movement pattern. If you lack the requisite input or movement, where will your window of opportunity go with respect to outputs of performance and physiological adaptations?


Start with the finish. With this in mind, not only can you move and adapt to stressloads, but can you also provide the necessary outputs, whether it is power, strength, or energy system minded goals, in order to be successful?

Further, CW went into detail regarding various methods of achieving output for increases in performance, from energy system development, to positioning for human movement and the exercises that follows suit.

One thing that will always continue to intrigue me, as with many others who are more intelligent than myself, is the thought process that goes into detailing and discoursing movement.

Take the idea of “output” for example, with respects to speed of movement.

If you have a car, and you have a capacity for 200mph for its top speed, sometimes you might not be able to achieve that 200mph for various reasons – you’re going uphill, weather conditions, worn tires, etc.

Driving a Car

One thing that might be limiting us from achieving “top speed” is that the e-brake might be cranked on. So, let’s utilize reflexive movement patterns, and various mobility drills to take the e-brake off, instead of cranking endlessly on the gas pedal to gogogogogo.

This came across in an example that I’m already relatively familiar with – post-activation potentiation, in which you perform a heavily loaded movement pattern (back squat), and then a lighter movement (barbell squat jump, or bodyweight vertical jump) to potentiate the motor units to “light up” faster.

However, instead of pressing on the gas pedal with the weights, take the e-brake off by performing various rolling/crawling exercises or mobility-minded exercises, and then go back to the speed-strength oriented exercise.

Beautiful and simple.


This is one aspect of the seminar that I was most intrigued by, for the simple fact that I have only a slight introduction towards this idea. [Kevin Neeld utilized a Grit Score with our athletes at Endeavor Sports Performance, along with utilizing heart rate monitoring for all conditioning.]


I probably took 4-5 pages of full notes on this, for the mere fact that I needed to find resources to discover how to incorporate these items into my current practice.

The biggest takeaway I received from this is that utilizing only HRV is a detriment, as it provides only a small vision into what is the whole body. There is much more to “readiness” than simply just accessing the heart rate and its variability with rest and training.


The above is simply a snippet of the information that was divulged from the mind of Charlie Weingroff. I highly recommend attending his upcoming seminar.

However, if you cannot attend his seminar for whatever reason, I recommend purchasing the DVD Training Equals Rehab 2: Lateralizations and Regressions.

The following is what I believe to be of entertainment value, along with notations, continuing education seminars/certifications, and links to other items to read if you feel inclined to do so.

Quotes from the Weekend

  • “You have to believe in something.”
  • [From my notes] “Believing in everything, and believing in nothing, is still believing in something.”
  • “Egregious.”
  • “Can your joints load and adapt to stress?”
  • “Magic is being the smartest person in the room.”
  • “Or you could be a 110lb soaking wet breakdancer, jumping on one hand!” (speaking about me)
  • “I like the way you think. You done good, son.”
  • “Breathe. Squeeze.”
  • “You can take the blue pill, or the red pill…”
  • “What is the cost of doing business..?
  • “Everything matters, and everything is done for a reason.”
  • “The B Team team plays on Thursday.”
  • “#BestInTheWorld”
  • “You can look both ways before you cross a street, but this doesn’t guarantee you WON’T get mugged before you get to the end.”
  • “Be so good that people can’t ignore you!!”
  • “You don’t train mental toughness.”
  • “You cultivate mental toughness.”
  • “Read everything written by Pavel.”

Some Other Key Items You Probably Didn’t Know About Charlie (That I Didn’t Know)

  • CW can rap, and pretty damn well too, if you ask me.
  • Digital Underground is on the tip of his tongue at any moment.
  • He can speak Spanish. And fluently, if I may add.
  • CW has some really good impersonations up his sleeve. [I’d like to see a Christopher Walken one, however.]
  • He likes Redline.
  • Charlie is 5’4.5” (5 foot 4 and 1/2 inches) tall, and approximately 195-200lbs on any given day.
  • He can squat the house, and he is probably (definitely) stronger than many of you reading this. (I did know this.)
  • He doesn’t eat bread.

Certifications and Seminars to Look Towards

Terms and Books for Further Discovering/Reading

Charlie and I

Training Equals Rehab 2

As always,

Keep it funky.