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What Makes An Effective Pre-Workout Warm Up?

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Fitness


I like getting your core temperature elevated first. You can do this with 3-5 minutes of jumping rope. If you have any specific areas that are really locked up you’d probably want to spend a few minutes working them with a lacrosse ball or Rumble Roller.

After that go through the muscles you’re training that day and get some blood in there and lubricate the joints around them.

One thing that people should take note of before I continue is that if you have to warm up for thirty minutes or so before doing a particular exercise you probably shouldn’t be doing that exercise.

Squats are a perfect example. I know a lot of people who can’t squat down more than a foot when cold. Then, if they warm up, foam roll, PNF stretch and put 185 on the bar they can finally get down to an inch or so above parallel 45 minutes later.

I’m no brain surgeon but something tells me they’d be better served skipping the squats for a while and focusing on improving their ankle and hip mobility and fixing whatever else they have going on.

A warm up is nice and should help boost performance. But it certainly won’t bulletproof you from injuries. So don’t use it as an excuse to do risky stuff in the gym. Fix yourself first then the risky stuff won’t be so risky.

As far as specifics go I like hitting the shoulder girdle with stuff like:

  • Shoulder dislocations
  • Band pull aparts
  • Scap pushups
  • Scapular wall slides
  • Hindu pushups
  • And some cool drills from sphinx position that Dr. Mark Cheng has been showing me (they require a video, which we’ll try to get soon)


For the hips and low back I like:

  • Cat camels
  • Bird dogs
  • Glute bridges
  • Clamshells
  • Lateral and monster walks with a band around the knees (my buddy and neighbor, Chad Waterbury has some videos of this HERE)
  • Plank variations
  • Glute ham raises or slide leg curl variations (if squatting)
  • Lunge variations
  • Cossack squats
  • Thai sits and other cool drills Dr. Mark Cheng has been showing me


Throw in some ankle mobility stuff and you should be good to go.

Now, that’s just a small list and there are literally hundreds of great warm up exercises. But I’m a huge believer in simplicity, minimalism and quality. Focus on doing fewer things better. There’s no need to do 99 warm up drills per workout.

As far as flexibility goes, if you can’t reach full depth in a squat try activating your hips/glutes before you spend an hour stretching. The length of your quad is the length of your quad. It goes from your hip to your knee. It doesn’t shorten up and you suddenly go from 5’10” to 5’5”.

So while it may feel tight and stretching might seem like the right thing to do that’s not always the case. There’s probably just something inhibiting it. By activating and strengthening certain muscles the “tightness” often goes away.


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