When Your Workout Becomes Your Warmup

Senior leaders of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade participated in the Army Combat Fitness Test (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Verniccia Janet Ford (101st Airborne))

There is often a transition that takes place when you start training again – eventually.  What challenged you previously will no longer be tough on you and it can be considered a warmup. 

Obviously, this transition is relative as some people will find a 5-10 minute warmup just a warmup, while others will find it difficult to continue non-stop for 5-10 minutes doing any sort of activity. Here are a few workouts that people once considered a full workout, but after a few to several months of training will only be a workout:

The PT Pyramid Warmup – As you can see in previous writings the PT Pyramid is a classic way to not only get a warmup, max out, and a cooldown built into a workout, it is also a great assessment tool.  And yes, eventually the 1-10 pyramid will be a warmup in any exercise.  If you do the following it may be considered a warmup or a full workout that is impossible to complete (for some):

Run 25m (do dynamic stretches and build up to fast running later in the warmup) 1 pushup Run 25m 2 pushups Run 25m 3 pushups… Keep going until you get to level 10.  That totals 55 pushups.  You can replace that with any exercise you are planning to do high reps or heavy weights with.  For instance, a 1-10 pushup pyramid is a great warmup for a bench press workout or a Max Rep Set workout. When you first start training 1-10 pushups (or any exercise) can be considered a full workout – especially if you cannot do multiple reps and sets of that exercise.  Once your conditioning improves, you can even continue this pyramid up to level 20.  This equals 210 repetitions of any exercise. If doing pushups or squats, that warm up quickly turns into your workout.  The following exercises you do after this section truly depends on your conditioning.  Most people realize when they can do a 1-20 (210 reps) pyramid or a 1-10-1 (100 reps) pyramid as a warmup you can build your conditioning level to a that not many people can accomplish – especially with tougher exercises like pull-ups and dips.

Typical warmups for most workouts are 5-10 minutes of some form of cardio option – jog, bike, elliptical. Most people can do this event at an easy pace for that time, but if you are returning from illness or new to workout what used to be an easy warmup maybe your workout as you make this transition.  Start back up easy and do not overdo it at first – doing workouts that you used to be able to easily do or try something that is too much, too soon, or too fast.  Build up progressively.

Some people of advanced level fitness can warm up with tough 30-35 minute workouts such as the Murph, to finish their workout session with other events such as longer runs, swims, or rucks.  It really depends on the goals of the athlete.  If you are seeking to excel in advanced level selection programs in the military, there is no 30-minute workout that is going to prepare you for a day of special ops training. You have to get to a level where your warmup is most people’s warmup.  It is all relative.

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