The Most Effective 10 Minute Warm Up to Stay INJURY FREE

After an individual completes a dynamic warm up, you’re generally faced with a decision: do you begin the workout? Or do you prepare yourself for the workout further? To enhance the benefits of the workout itself and to further prevent injury, I almost always err towards preparing the body further- I call this period “Movement Prep” which is an extension of the Dynamic Warm Up. The goal with this series of exercises is to continue to raise the core body temperature, and to simulate the strength moves that will be coming up later in the workout. There is also a focus on power development as well, with the goal being to get an individual’s fast twitch muscles firing.

Too often, I see injuries occur in the gym because individuals are improperly warmed up. Jumping right into strength work is not always the best idea, even if you’re tight on time. Always give the warm up its due diligence, or else you’ll pay the consequences with time lost from the gym due to a potential injury.

Movement Prep

This sequence should take no more than 8-10 minutes. There should be between 4 and 6 exercises, and contain the following components:

  • Power Activation (Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers)
  • Overall Strength
  • Core Activation (Rotational if possible)
  • Balance

Sample Exercises:

  • Pushup Position Opposite Shoulder Taps
  • MB T- Spine Slams
  • Straight Bear Crawls/Lateral Bear Crawls
  • TRX Rows
  • Bird Dog

Pushup Position Opposite Shoulder Taps

This is a phenomenal Pushup Position Variation, because there is such an anti-rotation core aspect to it. The goal is to tap the opposite shoulder while keeping your hips driven down towards the ground. This move is made more challenging by keeping your feet closer together; therefore, the wider your feet are, the easier it’ll be to keep your hips from moving. You should be squeezing your butt as hard as you can throughout each tap. The slower the tempo, the more challenging it is in your core. (In the video, I show the full “Tap Progression”- if you’ve never done shoulder taps before, start with wrist taps, just like I did, then work your way up to the shoulders)

MB T-Spine Slam

I love beginning a workout with a Medicine Ball Slam variation; anything with a rotational component especially, because it gets the entire body involved- thus, more muscles are activated. Be sure to focus on “backside hip drive through” as you slam outside your foot. Get that medicine ball all the way up over your head in order to get the full thoracic spine rotation as well. Remember to not rush through these slams because it should be a focus on power as opposed to cardio- this is a workout “primer” not a “finisher.”

Straight Bear Crawls/Lateral Bear Crawls

Whichever option you choose, your start position is the exact same. Back flat, butt down, hips directly over top the knees. The key to both of these moves is your steps are “short and choppy.” For straight bear crawls, you’d move your opposite arm with your opposite leg, and make sure your knee drive is not past your elbow. I generally do between 4 and 6 steps up and back- for time (depending on ability, 20-30 s.). For a Lateral Bear Crawl, you’re moving the same arm with the same leg (like they’re connected with a string) laterally. I generally only do 2 steps each way with this one, again for 20-30 seconds.

TRX Rows

You control the difficulty of this movement- the closer you are to the anchor point of the TRX, the more difficult it will be, and vice versa. Since it is still technically part of your warm up, only the last 2 reps should be difficult. Put your hands on the thick handles and extend your arms all the way straight, letting your hips drop with you. Squeeze your glutes and be sure to you’re your hips in a straight line with your upper body, never letting them sag down. Keep your shoulder blades pinched, so your upper back remains flat and finally, rock back onto your heels so your toes are in the air, fully committing to the move. I like to add in a rotation to the row, just to get a little more bicep activation before the workout, however, you can keep it at neutral grip or pronated. Be sure to breath out on the way up for each rep, making your goal to get your armpits almost to the TRX handles.

Bird Dogs

Regardless of training goals, Bird Dogs should be a part of everyone’s programming. For a newer trainee, a Bird Dog is a great core and balance exercise, and for a more advanced client, the move offers corrective mobility and active rest. First, make sure your quadruped position is perfect- shoulders should be directly overtop the hands, back completely flat. The goal should be to crunch your elbow to your knee, never letting the hand or knee touch the ground (this will give you the balance component and core activation). Be sure when you extend out straight we want your arm and leg perfectly straight. If you struggle with this, perform the Bird Dog next to a wall to make sure you’re not kicking your leg or arm out to the side. I like to perform 10 reps each side, with about a 1 second hold in and a 2 second hold out. It should take about 60 seconds to perform both sides, creating the perfect transition from one set to the next (without actually resting).

Variables (Sets/Reps/Rest)

Depending on what is coming next with the workout, and how much of a Dynamic Warm Up I completed, will determine how many sets the movement prep period is. On a normal workout day, 2-3 sets will do the trick, however if it’s an active rest day, and these moves will comprise the bulk of your workout, you can bump up to 4 sets.

Rep-wise, I’m usually in the 8-12 rep range with timed sets mixed in as well. You can do ALL reps or ALL time for the entire set, however, I like to mix it up within the set. The reason for this is because I feel that some exercises lend themselves more towards reps (i.e. MB Slam Variations- especially with warm-ups, because remember this is not a finisher), and others are better suited for time (PUP Opposite Shoulder Taps in particular).

For example:

  • PUP Opposite Shoulder Taps- 20 s.
  • MB T-Spine Slams- 5 e. side (10 total)
  • Bear Crawls- 4 steps up & back (for 30 s.)
  • TRX Rows- 10 reps
  • Bird Dogs- 10 reps e. side

In terms of rest, I’ll start by talking about rest within the set. If you’re an advanced level trainee, you can crush this whole piece as a part of a giant set, with minimal rest in between. Beginner or intermediates should take as much rest as they need. Chart the amount of rest you need in order to perform the next exercise at a high level, then seek to improve that inter-set rest time, week to week. For example, if Week 1, it was taking you 45 seconds to moderately catch your breath to the point that you could transition to the next exercise, seek to make that number drop in the subsequent weeks. In between sets, your rest can be as quick as it takes you to grab a sip of water or as long as 2-3 minutes. Because I usually program corrective mobility last, that can serve as your “rest” and if you’re advanced enough aerobically, you can transition right back to your first exercise without much of a break. As always though, find what’s right for you, and seek to improve it.

Final Thoughts

The goal of this movement prep period should be to simulate the moves that are coming during your strength work to come. It is a hybrid of the dynamic warm up and your strength work, and will continue to get blood flowing to your working muscles. A movement prep period like this is often forgone to instead hit the first set of Bench Press or Squats. The reality is, most people do some sort of half-ass jog/walk on the treadmill or light resistance elliptical work to get “warmed up”- if they’re doing a warm up at all. Doing so little to get your muscles firing, is only asking to hurt yourself during your workout. I implore you to take the 10 minutes to add in a series of moves like these, get your muscles completely warmed up, then go crush the rest of your workout!

Yours in Fitness and Health,


Your Final Reward Will Be Heartache and Tears, If You’ve Cheated the Guy in the Glass.

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