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The Perfect Warm-up

This is not medical advice. If you’ve recently had an accident, go see a doctor.

Based on the work of Dr. Vladimir Janda and his crossed syndromes, Dr. John Kirsch and his hanging method, Dr. Kelly Starrett and his couch stretch, and my own personal experience training clients for thousands of hours.

The goal is to get the most time effective warm-up possible. There’s a limited amount of time, so let’s hit the bare necessities to prepare the body for the workout.


Lower Body Mobility

The most effective method to open the hips after sitting or standing with poor posture is the couch stretch. This stretches your quadricep muscles if you’re upright and your psoas muscles if you lean forward.

The crazy thing about the iliopsoas is it connects from your inner thighs to your spine! If this hip flexor muscle is tight from sitting it will put direct stress on your lower back!

The mistake that I made for years was to stretch the low back muscles. I thought if the low back hurts that’s what I should focus on! I now know that’s totally wrong.

Before we begin any stretching of the low back, we must address why the low back is tight and hurting in the first place and 9 times out of 10 it’s caused by tight hip flexors.

Perform the couch stretch for 1 minute. If you’re a beginner, you can start with a basic half-kneeling hip flexor stretch. If you’re advanced, you can do the ATG split squat with back knee elevated.


Upper Body Mobility

The most effective method I’ve found for stretching the habitually tight muscle of the upper body is to hang from a bar with palms facing forward. Dr. John Kirsch famously discovered the cure to 95% of shoulder pain is to hang from a bar.

We came from monkeys, but modern man almost never puts his arms above his head. I’ve done this myself and with all of my clients and I’ve found that it helps with shoulder pain and back pain and stretches nearly every muscle of the upper body.

Hang from a bar for 1 minute. If you’re a beginner, start slowly with your feet on the ground. If you’re advanced, do scapular pulls as you hang or try a single arm!



I’m still learning the method I like best for core training, but here is the principle: our core is like the guy wires that support a tall radio tower called our spine. To warm-up our core we want to make sure those wires are primed and ready for action so that our spine is fully supported.

Core connects our upper and lower bodies and it is essential if you have any low back pain at all.



I’m still learning the method I like best for glute warm-up, but here’s the principle: most people have weak glutes and most people will use their quadriceps too much.

The purpose of this is to get my clients using their glutes once we start the workout instead of other muscles. Priming the glutes allows you to feel them and it’s more likely they’ll be used during lunges, squats, deadlifts, etc.



Here is the perfect warm-up:

Perform 2-3 rounds of this warm-up before beginning exercise. The purpose of this post was to teach the reason why I do these exercises, not the exercises themselves. If you have questions or feedback, leave a comment below!

Hope this helps! - Tom

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