"Cold" training vs warmup training

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I was watching the kneeovertoes guy on Mark Bell's podcast, and he was demonstrating how he could do full sissy squats and lay flat on his back with his legs folded underneath with absolutley no warmup.

I also had the opportunity to attend a workshop with calisthenics legend Simon Ata ("Simonster Strength"). Someone asked what a "tiger bend pushup" was, and with almost no warmup, he kicked up into a handstand and performed a freestanding handstand pushup, a freestanding tiger bend, and a 90-degree pushup, while talking the entire time. I think we maybe had done some arm and wrist circles or something before that. Simon has trained from a young age, and likely has some "good genetics" or whatever. But those skills were CLEAN, and he made it look as if his body weight was like 10 lbs.

So my thoughts here are this. What are everyone's opinions on training so increase your capacity to do something "cold," with little to no warmup?

I think its a valuable goal, to be able to perform on demand. I also think its interesting to think about training in a way that you need to do a lot of things first just to be able to do the thing that is your main practice. That seems odd to me, in a sense. What does it say about one's actual level of "fitness" if they have to foam roll, stretch, do muscle activation, cardio and so on...just to be able to do their main training sets? What does it say about training in general? Obivously warming up is useful, but what does it say about general "fitness" and health? Are we actually healthy if we need a lot of preparation to do our main exercises?
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
There's an old story about Marty Gallagher, I don't know if he was the lifter or the spotter, but anyway him or someone walks by a squat rack that has a bar with 500 on it and bangs out whatever many reps. The guy watching says "wow man, with no warmup?!?" and the lifter says "Relax, it's only 500lbs"

When your ceiling is high, what you can do with no warmup is trivial to you. Meanwhile to us mortals, it's mind-boggling
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
What does it say about one's actual level of "fitness" if they have to foam roll, stretch, do muscle activation, cardio and so on...just to be able to do their main training sets? What does it say about training in general? Obivously warming up is useful, but what does it say about general "fitness" and health? Are we actually healthy if we need a lot of preparation to do our main exercises?

I think, if you are exercising, or goofing off, or demonstrating what you can do -- sure, no warm-up.

If you are TRAINING, i.e. pushing your limits in some combination of volume and intensity, so that you are stimulating your body to develop some new skill, strength, or capacity, therefore get a better training session, therefore get a better training stimulus, therefore get a better outcome... then warm up, so you can do it better.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
There's an old story about Marty Gallagher, I don't know if he was the lifter or the spotter, but anyway him or someone walks by a squat rack that has a bar with 500 on it and bangs out whatever many reps. The guy watching says "wow man, with no warmup?!?" and the lifter says "Relax, it's only 500lbs"

When your ceiling is high, what you can do with no warmup is trivial to you. Meanwhile to us mortals, it's mind-boggling
I believe thatt's in the Easy Strength book, but I forget at the moment who the lifter was... But the entire concept behind ES is very much aligned with the ideas behind my thoughts here.
If you are TRAINING, i.e. pushing your limits
That's a good distinction to make, pushing/extending limits vs ....whatever we should call the alternative? Gradually increasing your baseline...?

Part of my post had to do with the concept of someone who needs to do a long, extended warmup before they can even squat, for instance. What the other part of the post has to do with is the idea of making training a "habit," rather than something "isolated" in a sense from daily or weekly routines.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I am sure there are some happy mediums. I see some people doing these elaborate warm-ups that last longer than their whole work session. And oh yeah... don’t forget to cool down as well...
 

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
There are as many views on warm up as there are on sets, reps, rest periods, frequency and exercise selection. For my own part, I warm up not so much in preparation for the main lift but to check all my working parts are in order before I get there. If I'm going to strain a joint or a tendon, I'd rather know about it with 100kg on the bar than 150 or 200
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
That's a good distinction to make, pushing/extending limits vs ....whatever we should call the alternative? Gradually increasing your baseline...?

Part of my post had to do with the concept of someone who needs to do a long, extended warmup before they can even squat, for instance. What the other part of the post has to do with is the idea of making training a "habit," rather than something "isolated" in a sense from daily or weekly routines.

Good points... I guess one can get used to no warm-up or minimal warm-up, depending on what it is they're doing.

Warm-up is such a complicated subject! Many reasons it's needed, but also many reasons it may be time wasted, or unnecessary.

Also, there's not always a distinct line between warm-up and training/work sets/workout. For strength sessions, the first few sets can serve as the warm-up depending on the format. Some programs have that included. Others expect you to warm up as you need and only prescribe the top work sets.

For aerobic training, often just doing the activity is the warm-up. When I do a 3-hour bike ride, I don't warm up first. I just start riding, with the first 10-20 minutes or so at an easier pace. But if I was to do a hard interval training session, I would certainly ride for 15 minutes or so to warm up before the hard intervals.

What are everyone's opinions on training so increase your capacity to do something "cold," with little to no warmup?

To your original question, I think it's a valuable thing, to the extent that we should MOVE more, and more easily and naturally, and more randomly throughout the day. That's a valuable thing to develop! And that probably covers the examples you mentioned. Those are very sub-maximal tasks for the guys in the examples.

But I think that's different from training. Training, in my mind (as I said in my first post) is going to be some kind of hard-ish work, and you should warm up for it so that you can be best prepared for it, and therefore get the best outcomes with the lowest risk. Depending on what the training is, that might need aerobic system warm-up, mobility warm-up, joint warm-up, vestibular system warm-up, force-production warm-up, etc. Or like @LukeV said, just making sure your body is moving well with a lighter load before applying a heavy load.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@bluejeff, for me, there are only so many hours in a day and I wish to be as productive during them as possible. I do zero lifting below 70% 1RM in strength exercises.

There are sometimes necessary exceptions, e.g., after sitting with my shoulders rounded forward all day, I like to hang from a bar or rings and/or do a few very deep dips to restore some measure of normalcy to my shoulder and t-spine range of motion before I squat or bench press, but this is a personal choice based on my knowledge of my body and doesn't take long, a minute or two, perhaps. I wish I didn't need these but I want to train proper movement patterns, so I do them. But I still don't start with less than 70% weights on the actual SQ and BP movements themselves. (I don't do a lot of math on this subject, I just go by feel, but since we're talking about it, I just plugged some of my numbers into a calculator and it confirmed what I'm saying.)

-S-
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
All good thoughts that I agree with!

I think that if you know you have a touchy joint is it definitely a good idea to ease into things first. I also have been enjoying super light, higher volume work in basic patterns lately, like 1-3 sets before main work just to really groove the pattern, or just as a “health” exercise (blood flow, easy movement).

Another way to express what I’m thinking about:

In some traditional martial arts, certain things are done more or less daily and very gradually increased in difficulty over time. The idea, IMO, is for the skill to be something normal for your body. It’s just what it does after a long time of doing it. I guess maybe I’m seeing less frequent training (ie 2-3x/week) as something to recover from, rather than something you can just do. I also acknowledge that the latter can _increase_ what you baseline is.

So I’m not knocking one way of training over the other. After all, SF is _the_ methodology designed around staying fresh. I realize that “normal” training (2-3 days a week for a skill) can improve strength faster, most likely. I just think it’s something interesting to think about.
 

Justin_M

Level 2 Valued Member
Warm-up is such a complicated subject! Many reasons it's needed, but also many reasons it may be time wasted, or unnecessary.
Totally! It's like buying things for me. If I need it, buy the best. If I'm not willing to pay for the best, I don't need it.

A warmup should prevent an injury or unlock an ability not available without it. If it's not contributing to the follow-on, don't bother.
 

Erik Hournou

Level 6 Valued Member
I warmup for the day by doing a straddle ql stretch, 90/90 hip flexor and piriformis, standing fold and bridge, some shoulder mobility and stretches, then some hindu squats and pushups, and finally hamg from a bar.
Now for actual training my warmup is generally just breathing in a relaxed way a couple of times and shaking out my arms and legs
I feel this helps my daily mobility, altrough I dont really do it to warm up for the exercise.
 

Bauer

Level 6 Valued Member
Interesting discussion. Pavel talks a bit about it in Q&D and S&S.

In Q&D he mentions that he does and ultra minimalist movement prep (60 seconds or so), but that he trained his body to function that way.

In S&S he allows one to drop the halos and bridges during intermediate practice, as long as the hips and shoulders are mobile enough anyway. The Goblet Squats stay.

Therefore, the purpose of the S&S warmup is manyfold. Partly it is supposed to improve mobility/stability/joint integrity as long as one needs it. And then it adds certain angles and moves to the mix: Bent arm work (halos, goblet squats), squatting ability, hip flexor mobility.

Personally, I like to use the warmup for variety, skill practice and movement quality, for example using OS resets or clean and push presses. I believe @Mark Limbaga calls adding your own flavour to the main dish, IIRC.

What's more, sometimes it is more about the state of the nervous system: Do you need to unwind from stress (being too tense) or do you need to wake up? This also correlates with the time of day you are training at.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Lately my warmup has been sandbag burpees, basic burpee but DL a sandbag instead of jump.

The transition from pulling my legs up to a tight squat and then into a hinge is a great tonic for my knees at 6am.
Personally, you wake someone up and force them to move a big load most of us will have trouble, so warm or cold is somewhat relative. I would agree needing an extensive foam rolling and gradual warmup is a bit excessive, but I know if I have to move around 3/4 ton rolls of paper I don't just launch myself at them. If its early yet I'll jump and down, fast and loose, shake it up. ATP turnover is a chemical reaction and that reaction takes a second to get going.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
Maybe another thought to add is to ask the question:

What is the state of your body at any given, random time throughout the day? Or to put a certain spin on it, how well could you physically perform in a random emergency at a random time of day?
 
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