Warm ups are crucial to the success of your boot camp, they help you to prepare your clients for a rigorous session, reduce the risk of injury, and they also serve as an ice breaker. A good warm up can unite your class. But what is the best warm up for boot camps?
The best warm up for boot camp is one that works both the upper and lower body. You want it to last between five and ten minutes, slowly increasing in intensity throughout. Games are preferable to drills.
In this article, we will look at what makes a good warm up and showcase one of our favourite warm ups to inspire you for your own.
What is the Best Warm Up for Boot Camp?
A good warm up can set the tone for an entire session, so it is particularly important that you get it right. When planning your warm up, you need it to address the following:
- Preparation – the main point of a warm up is to ready your body for the workout to come, you can’t just jump straight in to a high intensity workout without warming up first. Look for ways to slowly increase your intensity from the start of the warm up.
- Injury Reduction – This goes hand in hand with preparation, warm ups can make a big difference when it comes to injury prevention. Get your class to perform warm ups that will increase mobility in the upper and lower body.
- Break the Ice – Joining a new boot camp can be a little scary for some people. Luckily, a good warm up can really help to integrate people into a group. Focussing on team building through fun warm ups can help improve the cohesion of your group.
How Long Should My Warm Up Last?
There are many factors that should influence exactly how long your warm up lasts, but the main one is time. How long is your boot camp session? If it is an hour, then you can dedicate ten minutes to the warm up and ten minutes to the cool down.
If your boot camp is only half an hour long, then a 5-7 minute warm up would be better. You could even incorporate your warm up into the boot camp itself.
So long as your warm up is getting progressively more intense as you go, it does not matter if the warm up is too long. Ideally, it will merge seamlessly into the session.
Common Warm Up Mistakes
Warm ups are fairly simple to program, but there are a few common warm up mistakes that we see time and time again. Here is how to identify and avoid them:
Mistake #1 Warm up is too easy
This is one of the most common mistakes around. It is also an understandable one. You just want to get started with all the awesome drills and exercises you have planned for your boot camp. So instead of dedicating 10 minutes to warming up, you just get your clients to do a few jumping jacks before starting.
There are several problems with this. Firstly, your clients are not going to be sufficiently warmed up meaning that injury is more likely, and they won’t be able to perform at their best.
Secondly, they won’t exactly be motivated or pumped for this workout after such a short and dull warm up.
Mistake #2 Warm up is too difficult
On the other hand, create too brutal a warm up and you will have another problem entirely. It is an easy mistake to make. You want your class to start off with a bang, and you program in a bunch of tough exercises to “really warm them up”.
But actually, all you are doing is throwing them in at the deep end. They would need a warm up for the warm up!
Mistake #3 Warm up involves static stretching
There is a time and a place for static stretching, but the beginning of a boot camp is not it. Even if static stretching were an effective way to warm up your muscles (it is not), it would be difficult to think of a more boring way to begin a class!
Speaking of which …
Mistake #4 Warm up is boring
A boring warm up is going to set the wrong tone for your session, leaving your clients listless and uninterested. You want your warm up to excite and motivate, to get each client salivating at what is to come. Be creative, have fun, get them excited for the session ahead.
Mistake #5 Bad warm up technique when jogging/running
According to road runner sports, the way your foot strikes the ground when running can affect your speed, energy consumption, and even the risk of injury. They wrote a fantastic article about this called, the battle of the foot strike.
Mistake #6 Warm up lacks variety
I'm often asked. What is the best warm up for boot camp? The truth is, there are lot's of different things you can do in your warm up, and you should mix it up as much as possible. If you stick with the same warm up every time (like a lot of fitness trainers do), your clients will get bored and so will you.
How To Structure A Bootcamp Warm Up
A good warm up should be structured so that you manage to increase heart rate, increase mobility, and warm the body up for the workout. This is the structure that is recommended:
- Cardio (game): Bootcamp warm up games get people moving in a fun way. They get the heart rate up, and helps warm them up for exercise. Low impact, low to medium intensity.
- Mobility Drills: Helps to increase range of motion and mobility, a great way to get people to pay attention as you outline the session. Perform 2-3 mobility drills depending on the length of your class.
You can find 100's of fun warm up ideas inside the WDC group fitness search engine.
Example of Warm Up
Let's start with the pulse raiser (cardio). The pulse raiser is the first part of a warm-up and is used to gradually increase the heart rate. Progressive sprints are a good example because it requires no equipment. Start at a slow pace then turn up the speed after each round.
What is a good pulse raiser warm up?
My best warm up for bootcamp usually starts with a progressive cardio drill like the one below. We are the warm up slowly then increase the intensity gradually. Give this a go.
- 20m Shuttle sprints at 20% effort for 1-minute
- 20m Shuttle sprints at 30% effort for 1-minute
- 20m Shuttle sprints at 40% effort for 1-minute
- 20m Shuttle sprints at 50% effort for 1-minute
- 20m Shuttle sprints at 75% effort for 2-minutes
A great way to continue the warm up is with a game of tag. Depending on the size of the boot camp you can either start with one or two taggers. When someone is tagged, they must perform five reps of an exercise (jumping jacks, squats, push ups etc) before they can become a tagger themselves.
You can swap exercises around to suit different abilities, or you can let the tagger decide what exercise to give.
Once the game has finished get everyone round in a circle, and you can get them to perform 2-3 mobility drills. At least one for the upper body and one for the lower body.
- Spiderman Lunge: Take a large lunge forward, place your hands on the ground as if you were about to perform a push up, then push your chest out and raise your head up. Hold the position and then return to the start, swap legs and repeat.
- Arm Swings: The simplest of mobility drills, stand upright with chest pushed out. Swing both arms up and above your head then rotate your shoulders and bring them back down to your sides so that you have performed a full rotation.
- Side to Side Squats: These are very similar to lateral lunges, but use the glutes more. Stand upright with feet together and hands held together. Take a large step to the right and then squat down, your left leg should straighten out as you do so. Return to the starting position and then repeat with your right leg.
Fun Bootcamp Workout Ideas
Once you're finished with your fun bootcamp warm up, you can move on to the main part of your session. Here's what I designed this week for my Workout Design Club members. Each week I design 12 fun group fitness ideas so you can show up to every session with a fun packed workout.
1. Sick Sprints: Sick sprints is a 10-minute partner challenge that forces players to put in 100% effort. They have no other choice unless they want to see their partner suffer. It’s one of the best partner challenges (no touching) you’ll see this year.
2. Top Draw: Top draw is a fun 10-minute partner challenge (no touching) based around paper, rocks, scissors. Instead of winning, teams must draw their way to victory in a series of mini tasks. It’s wacky and it's fun at the same time. This can be a fun bootcamp warm up, or a cheeky finisher drill.
3. Focus 3: Focus 3 is a very intense 35-minute full body challenge. With this one of a kind template, you can quickly design a wide variety of extremely effective workouts.
4. My Stupid Long Number: My stupid long number is a ridiculously creative running game filled with chaos and suspense. There can be only one winner, and anybody (despite their ability) can win.
5. Multi-Player: Multi-player is an inclusive 45-minute fitness challenge broken up by several different training methods. During the workout, the team as a whole choose how the challenge unfolds. It’s a really great way to get your clients involved in your session.
6. Superset Chipper: Superset chipper is a fun 30-minute team challenge that allows you to increase the intensity of your workout by overloading the muscles. You’ll love this one.
7. Full Body Hero: Full body hero is a tough 30-minute full-body workout that focuses on strength and cardio. It’s a fantastic template that lets you build full-body sessions easily.
8. Big Stack Accumulator: Big Stack Accumulator is a fun 30-minute fitness test that challenges players to build as high as they can. It’s a real test of determination.
9. Double Trouble: Double Trouble is a funky 45-minute challenge that gives partial control to each participant. The game can be played however you like, and it’s always interesting to see what players choose.
10. Shock Rounds: Shock rounds are the ultimate test of will power. Set at various tempos, the objective of this 3 phase fitness challenge is to simply survive.
11. My Crazy 147: My crazy 147 is a fun 15-minute challenge consisting of very small pockets of time. The objective is to fill each pocket and score a perfect 147. This just might be my best warm up for bootcamp.
12. 2nd Round Acceleration: 2nd Round Acceleration is a fun 40-minute duel fitness test with a very sneaky twist. The question is. How will players respond when their most important commodity is taken away?
Best Warm Up For Bootcamp: Final Thoughts
The formula is fairly straight forward, find a fun cardio-based exercise/drill to start things off. Then go into a few mobility drills that echo what you will be doing in the regular session. Make sure that the game you are using is simple to do (no complex rules) and is not too difficult.
If you can do that, then your sessions will improve dramatically. No injuries, well warmed-up and happy clients. Perfect! And like I said earlier, the best warm up for bootcamp are the ones packed with fun and variety.
You can find my entire collect of group fitness ideas over in the Workout Design Club. The WDC is a group fitness search engine that lets you plan your sessions with ease.