Warm Up Exercises Before CrossFit - Why It's Important?

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Warm up Ideas and Exercises Before CrossFit

What has your routine to warm up before CrossFit looked like these days?

At my Box we are prescribed a warm-up which is written on the board and you are expected to finish before class starts. It is the same warm-up the entire week.

I admit it.

I sometimes half-ass the warm up. I know. It’s terrible, but I had to say it.

Can I be honest with you?

I think I don’t always put my all into the warm out in part because we do them alone, and I am fundamentally motivated by camaraderie and peer pressure, and in part because the warm up itself is uninspired.

But we are not here to psychoanalyze my motivation; we are here to talk about CrossFit Warm-ups.

So, how are your CrossFit warm-up exercises working for you lately?

warm up before CrossFit workout

If you find yourself unmotivated or uninspired during warm-up, maybe it is time to shake things up.

We promise, we will show some fun and interesting warm-ups for CrossFit. Some are great to do alone, others work better in groups. We will also reinforce the importance of including a warm up in your routine.

Why it is important to warm up

Research has shown that a moderate warm up can increase the time it takes you to exhaust yourself physically, allowing for a longer workout. This applies to aerobic or cardio exercise, so this knowledge is useful for your Metcons.

The study warns that the same result is not seen with a vigorous warm-up, so take it easy. Many sources I have seen suggest performing the warm up at about 50% of your normal capacity.

But that’s not all

Warm ups that focus on the specific muscle groups that will be used on the subsequent WoD have a beneficial effect on how the muscle group performs.

This study showed that a low load warm up exercise in the glutes enhanced peak power output later.

What about stretching during warm up?

That’s right!

Stretching is an important part of the warm up. We have an article on the best time to stretch, before or after the workout, located here.

One item many CrossFit warm-up routines incorporate for stretching is a foam roller. A foam roller is great for stretching and in fact, one study on collage age students said this:

Foam rolling is more effective than static and dynamic stretching in acutely increasing flexibility of the quadriceps and hamstrings without hampering muscle strength, and may be recommended as part of a warm-upStudy

Can this really be true?


The foam roller is a cross between a massage and a stretch and promotes awesome pre-WoD blood circulation, preparing your muscles for the intensity ahead.

This Team Richey video shows you how one CrossFit athlete uses his foam roller before getting into the workout.

The Sampson Stretch

This is a famous CrossFit stretch. The resource is from the CrossFit newsletter, and goes into detail on this full body stretch. If you are a visual learner, video below shows a CrossFit Athlete performing the stretch.

Side Note: Trevor’s Total Body CrossFit Video below shows both the Sampson stretch and uses the foam roller.

What are the best CrossFit warm up ideas?

So glad you asked!

  • Warm ups should use the same muscles you are using during the WoDs skill work or MetCons.
  • Warm ups should be done at a light and easy pace/level. About 50 % of your normal capacity. In other words, you should be able to hold a conversation easily while warming up.
  • Even though only 50% capacity is required, 100% attention to warm up is needed. This is not the time for the facebook selfie or bathroom break.
  • It is OK to talk, chat, and catch up with your friends, since you are working at a conversational pace.

The Warm up Acronyms

CrossFit is notorious for all the acronyms used. The Warm up is no exception.

Two CrossFit warm up acronyms are explained below.

SWU – Standard Warm Up The standard warm up was initiated by CrossFit in 2011 to increase gymnastic capacity and to standardize the warm up across Boxes.

Two examples of the Standard Warm up are:

Warm-Up 1
3 Rounds NFT of:

  • 20 Kettle bell Swings (face level)
  • 10 Overhead Walking Lunges (using bumper plates)
  • 5 Pull-Ups

Warm-Up 2
3 Rounds NFT of:

  • Row 15 Calories
  • 10-15 Push-ups
  • 30 Hollow Rocks
Note: The standard workout is actually not used in every box.

CFWU – CrossFit Warm Up This is the Classic warm-up shown and described below.

YouTube Warm Up Routines


This is the classic CrossFit workout, and I include it because it is a classic. The thing about this video is, I am not crazy about the music, but since the exercise is written on the screen, I can mute it and put my OWN music on while I do it. That works for me.

More about the Standard Warm-up:

The “official” CrossFit warm-up is in the April 2003 CrossFit Journal.

3 rounds of 10-15 reps of:

  • Samson stretches (do the Samson stretch once each round for 15-30 seconds)
  • Overhead squats with broomstick or PVC
  • Sit-ups
  • Back extensions
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips

This warm-up is only a general idea, and coaches and athletes can easily adjust it or create their own versions in order to prepare them for a specific workout.

Warm-Up with Matt Chan

Matt leads a group warm-up that is a light cardio routine including jumping jacks, modified jacks, lunges, waist bends and hamstring stretches.

This short warm-up is just 6 minutes total.

Total Body CrossFit Warm Up

Trevor talks quite a bit at the beginning so you can skip to 2:47 to get to the start of the warm up.

Trevor explains the moves and demonstrates proper form for each stretch he demonstrates. Includes a killer calf stretch, hamstring pivot, back, arms and upper body stretches.

Uses a foam roller and empty barbells.

CrossFit – Rob Miller Time: The Warm-Up

This fun warm-up led by Rob miller includes the CrossFit version of Musical chairs and is good for group warm-ups.

The Roxanne warm-up, where you need to do a burpees every time Sting says Roxanne in the hit song Roxanne. Working out and working out should be enjoyable, which is why we love this warm-up.

CrossFit – The Gymnastics Tool Bag of Warm-Ups

This Gymnast inspired CrossFit workout can be done in a group or alone and requires no extra equipment. Several novel movements and stretches to add variety to your warm-up routine.

CrossFit – Shoulder Prep with Kelly Starrett

If you are looking for a CrossFit Shoulder workout this one by Kelly Starrett offers a quick, thorough and fun shoulder warm-up.

It sounds simple. And it is.

The warm-up is so important, so easy and should not be skipped or taken lightly.

Drop us a line and let us know what your favorite warm up routine is.