How often do you notice that you feel better on your second or third round of a WOD than you did on your first round? I hear this so often from our athletes in class, and I have experienced this as well. Usually someone will say that they needed a round to “warm-up” and then they started to feel better and move faster and more efficiently. Why is this so?
I had a track coach in college who made all of the athletes achieve a heart rate in our warm-up that was similar to what we wanted the heart rate to be during the race. We also needed to work up a sweat just prior to stepping to the starting line. At first, I thought that such a vigorous warm-up would make me more tired for my race. However, it was quite the opposite. I actually felt better at the start of my race, and didn’t feel a sudden uncomfortable shock to my system during the first few minutes.
This concept of warming up is called pre-loading and it can be a very effective way of warming up for CrossFit as well. James Fitzgerald describes doing pre-loading in three stages called “GDS.” GDS stands for General, Dynamic, and Specific types of movements in a warm-up. For competition, Fitzgerald believes that a good warm-up should last about 50 minutes. The first 20 or so minutes would be spent in the general and dynamic phases, working on increasing ROM and mobility and getting the blood flowing. After that, you move into the specific phase of the warm up, which should last around 20-30 minutes. In the specific phase you want to warm up with the same movements that you will be doing in the WOD. This phase should consist of about three 40-70 second intervals at the intensity that you are planning to preform the WOD at. You should rest as needed after these intervals, and the last one should be completed 4-5 minutes prior to start of the WOD.
The goal of pre-loading is to get lactate flowing in your system before the WOD starts so that your body can start to compensate. If you properly pre-load, you should not feel terrible in the first round, and ultimately have a better first round or beginning to your WOD! With many of our athletes competing at Boxtoberfest in a few weeks, this is a great chance to experiment with pre-loading. We obviously can’t do a 50-minute warm up for a regular CrossFit class, but try to apply the concept and do a few intervals before your next WOD. If it works for you, incorporate it into your warm-up at Boxtoberfest! And as always, please give us your feedback and let us know if this works for you or if you have any questions!