How should you warmup?

Your pre-wod warmup does not need to be anything fancier or more complicated than just 5min on a rower or on another cardio machine. Starting out easy, increasing pace towards the end so you make sure to actually get warm (a little bit of sweating is a good indicator of that!).

But if you want to take things a little further than that, below is some more information over how warmup affects your performance and how you can warmup efficiently for to ensure you get the best possible outcome from your training!


There will be a lot of information provided over your physiology - what happens in your body when you breath and exercise. We see this as a vital part in understanding why a proper warmup is a must, but we also do need to cut a few corners here and there, simplify things in order to keep this e-mail from becoming massively long! :)

Pulmonary warmup - what does it mean?

Have you ever experienced the so called "second wave", that 10-20min into your training you actually start feeling better and more in a flow?

That is when your pulmonary system actually warms up. So in other words, you are not getting everything out from your training in the first half or so, because you haven't actually warmed up properly prior to training.

Priming the lungs before training will benefit your performance, it is a fact. Developing a good routine to open the lungs should be something that all athletes incorporate in their training.

When your body is warmed up prior to exercise the following benefits can be maximized:

  • The production of more carbon dioxide - improving the release of oxygen from the blood to the tissues and organs

  • The opening of blood vessels and airways - allowing for better blood flow and easy breathing


Breath holding - Why should you use it and how can it be used as a part of your warmup?

Creating an air shortage by holding the breath during your warm-up is vitally important to cause an accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood before physical exercise commences. Your breathing will naturally increase when you exercise more intensely, but without a corresponding increase in the production of CO2 the result will be a net loss of carbon dioxide. This loss can lead to reduced oxygen delivery to working muscles and the constriction of airways and blood vessels. Not surprisingly, most asthma attacks and breathing difficulties occur during the first 10 minutes of physical exercise!

Do more with less

Do more with less - this sentence applies to both;

  1. Taking most out of the training you do and maximizing the result without adding more time used in training.

  2. Adapting your body to do more with less, making your body to use the energy sources more efficiently for you to last longer and stronger!

When the human body is exposed to situations in which there are reduced oxygen levels such as high altitude or by holding the breath adaptations take place that force the body to increase oxygenation of the blood.

The benefits of breath holding (or high altitude training):

  • lower the sensitivity to carbon dioxide

  • increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood

  • improve breathing economy

  • improve VO2 max

  • increase endurance

  • stimulates the release of EPO (allows the blood to deliver greater amounts of oxygen to the muscles)

  • improves respiratory muscle strength

  • reduces lactic acid and the discomfort and fatigue experienced

Practical application

Firstly, there are some contraindications of breath hold practice. If you suffer from any of the below (or there is a reason to suspect you do), it is better to refrain from practicing the retention of breath or first get a clearance from your doctor:

  • pregnancy

  • high blood pressure

  • heart disease or other heart problems

  • anxiety or panic attacks

  • diagnosed or undiagnosed breathing problems 

  • In these cases, only practice the option 1 from our warmup routines.


Stadi CrossFit Pre-WOD Warmup routine

*All warmups using nasal breathing only at all times



With a cardio machine of your choice start at a comfortable pace. Try to breathe calmly through your nose, using your diaphragm to maintain a gentle and relaxed breathing. Continue for 2-3 minutes.


After the first 2-3 minutes on a cardio machine, continue with a bodyweight movement of your choice:

3 rounds of:

10 Air Squats (or push up, lunges) 

  • Inhale Down

  • Exhale Up


3 rounds of:

5x Dive Bombers/ Upward dog - downward dog transitions

  • Inhale Up

  • Exhale Push Back



With a cardio machine of your choice start at a comfortable pace. Try to breathe calmly through your nose, using your diaphragm to maintain a gentle and relaxed breathing. Continue for 2 minutes. 


After the first 2 minutes or so, exhale normally through your nose and hold your breath after the last exhale. Continue working at a moderate pace until you feel a moderate hunger for air. Resume breathing. Continue for another 2-3 minutes (or up to 10min), performing a breath hold every minute or so.

* After the breath hold, you should be able to continue a calm and steady breathing in 2-3 breaths. So don't over do it!



With a cardio machine of your choice start at a comfortable pace. Try to breathe calmly through your nose, using your diaphragm to maintain a gentle and relaxed breathing. Continue for 2 up to 5 minutes.


3 rounds of:

  • Exhalation breath hold

  • max squat jumps/ burpees /running/assault bike/ jumping lunges during the breath hold

  • resume breathing and rest until your breathing calms down

  • increase intensity each round


Before you can truly benefit from any of these warmup routines above, it's good to practice the basics first. So if you missed our past newsletters about proper breathing mechanics and the benefits of nasal breathing. Take a look at the links below!

The basics matter and most definitely when it comes to your breathing!

Proper Breathing Mechanics

Why nasal breathing

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

Bruce Lee

With the above in mind, find what works for you and continue consistently using that! You don't need to run after everything that shines, you just need to find what allows you to have the best possible outcome with the time and resources you have available. Not having more time will not limit you from progressing further, you just need to use your time more efficiently!

- Stadi CrossFit crew

Lisa Koivunen