The Ideal Warm-up Formula

metabolic workout finishers

bodyweight exercisesBack when I first started as a trainer, I would have my client hop on the treadmill or elliptical for 5 minutes to warm up.

If you think that is bad, you should see the programs I wrote. <<Head shaking>>

The truth is that I’m human and thankfully, I’ve evolved as a trainer and those days are long gone. My programs have changed drastically since then, especially my warm ups.

You can’t underestimate the warm-up. I’ve seen it in my own workouts as well as my clients over the years. If your  warm-up is solid, you’ll actually IMPROVE your entire workout.

That’s a bold statement, but like I said, I’ve seen this in action. About 2 years ago, I really put this to the test. I took one of my favorite client’s workout log and recorded their reps/weight as I always did, but compared it to two things:

1) A warm-up on the treadmill for 5 minutes
2) A warm-up of bodyweight exercises that lasted about 3 minutes.

The results – her performance of the workout was much better after the bodyweight circuit compared to the treadmill.

She lifted heavier, and on on the bodyweight movements, she was able to squeeze out more reps.

The same results happened for my other client that I’ve trained since 2007. I tested it with him as well.


So, let’s make YOUR workouts better. I’ll show you how I put together my own warm-ups as well as my clients. In fact, by using this template, you’ll be able to create your own warm-ups…it will be just like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

First, you’re not SKIPPING your warm-up are you? That’s so uncool man. That’s like going to IHop and ordering an omelet instead of pancakes.

Really… what’s the point?

Imagine it’s 20 degrees out and you hop into the car and just start driving. You hear your car moaning and the steering wheel is all tight… not to mention it takes forever for you to feel the heat.

The same applies to your body. It’s going to perform much better if it’s all warmed up and ready to rock. So…

Warm up dude. It only takes about 3 -5 minutes (at most)… if you do it right.

Here’s the warm-up I’m currently on that has been working really well for me.


Do the following circuit twice, resting for 30 seconds between circuits.

Jumping Jacks (15)
Alternating Prisoner Lunge (8/side)
Pushups (8) – Take 2 seconds to lower yourself and 2 seconds to come back up.
Leg Swings (15/side)

4 exercises – easy peasy

This is faster and more effective than hopping on a treadmill for 5 minutes. This will get you ready to go to war.

So, what’s the formula for a quick, effective warm-up?

  1. Easier conditioning exercise
  2. Easier Single Leg Exercise (Prisoner Style)
  3. Core Exercise/Easier Push Exercise
  4. Easier Leg Exercise

1) For me, I like the way Jumping Jacks wakes up my shoulders (I get up at 4:30 each day and by the time I work out, my shoulders are tight). But # 1 can be anything like Skater Hops, Jumping Jacks, Jump Rope at a moderate pace, Low Box Jumps (3-5 reps), etc.

2) This can Prisoner Lunges, Prisoner Reverse Lunges, Prisoner Lateral Lunges, Prisoner Switch Lunge (around 5 reps per side), etc. The idea is to wake up your lower body and by keeping your hands behind your head, you’ll also work your upper back.

Sorry, but as we get older – this is REALLY important. So, make sure your hands aren’t only behind your head, but you’re making a good effort to squeeze your shoulder blades together during the whole movement.

3) This can be Mountain Climbers, X-Body Mountain Climbers, Spiderman Climb, Plank, Pushup Plank, etc. I like the 2-second pushup because you work your upper body and the slow pace works your core and prepares it for battle.

4) Leg Swings are my favorite warm-up exercise. I like to pretend I’m kicking someone, and you can, too. This can be your spouse, your in-laws and more. Good times. But here, you can also plug bodyweight squats, a variety of lunges, and even Total Body Extensions.

There are other formulas that work as well, and that’s just one of them.

So put that on your goals for 2013… IMPROVE your performance with better warm-ups.

Better Warm-ups = Better Workouts

Better Workouts = Better Results

Better Results = Goals Reached and Celebrate with Pancakes

Note – I bolded pancakes on purpose. That’s how important they are to me… I mean you.

I’m a big believer that when you focus on process goals and simply getting better, the fat loss then becomes a by-product.

May you never, EVER get bored with your workouts,

Mikey, CTT

Choose your own Workout Finishers here


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Leave A Reply (3 comments so far)

  1. George
    11 years ago

    Hey Mike love your finishers use them all the time after strength training,So i was doing about 20 different movements for a warmup that took me about 8-10 mins, I’m 43 yrs old and heavy trying to lose weight and all, but doing what you said in your post will be enough? just wondering because you see and hear so many different things its mind boggling. Thanks Mike!

    • Mikey
      11 years ago

      Hey George, I appreciate the feedback! That’s FANTASTIC that you do a 8-10 minute warm-up. Honestly, that’s even better, especially as we age. This circuit I show in this post is what I call the “minimal approach”. It certainly beats hitting the treadmill. If it’s working for you, definitely stick with it!