14 Exercise Total Body Warm-Up Routine

Motion

Before the workout, there is a warm-up.  

Warm-ups are an INCREDIBLE 15-20 minutes to make mobility gains, nourish joints, rep out isolated movements/activation drills, playfully engage in movement sequence or explore other movements that peak one’s curiosity.  

I used to dread warming up before workouts, as most people probably do.  

Warming up seemed like a barrier to the productive section of the workout.  

A period of time where I’d swing my arms around a little bit, bounce on your toes, a few neck rolls, get my hype playlist dialed in and throw a few shadow punches.

This used to be me.  

I’d drudge through a smattering of hand-selected, mindless dynamic stretches, mini band walks to “wake up” the glutes, and finish strong by mobilizing the ankles and T-Spine.  

I elevated my heart rate, initiated a sweat and feel focused, so the warm-up boxes must all have checkmarks ✅, right?  

In my mind, the answer to that question was, “Boxes check, good to go.  Moving on to the sexy part of the workout.  Exertion.”

Re-Establish the Purpose of the Warm-Up

People generally think of warm-ups as a stimulus to awaken and prime the body for more aggressive exercise, be it resistance training or cardio conditioning.  

This isn’t the wrong way to view things by any means.  Elevating the heart rate and increased body temperature is still important.

But the warm-up can serve as a vehicle to make incremental (valuable) gains in other areas.  Mobility, movement transitions, balance, coordination, etc.  

The problem, rather a common perception, is that investing time in a progressive warm-up seems like a waste of time.  

No muscle pump?  It must be a waste of time.

Lungs not burning?  Surely time is being wasted.

“Let’s get this over boring-ass sh*t over with so I can start making my gaaaiiinnnzzzz”.

For clarification, “Gainz” generally describes the usuals for most people:

  •  Fat loss 
  •  Muscle or strength gain
  •  Losing weight 
  •  General fitness improvement
  •  Big bouncing pecs, softball-sized biceps, and curvy butts, etc. 

I think we can do better with our pre-workout warm-up routines. 

We can do this by integrating joint mobility training, moving limbs through disadvantaged or strict patterns of motion, movement exploration/play, flow sequencing, transitions, etc.  

Today, it’s really hard to see where my warm-up stops and the workout begins.

The days of twirling arm and leg swings are long gone.  I’ve traded them for slow and controlled mobility drills, where I attempt to express the true joint range of motion I have ownership over, and fighting to earn and expand that gradually.

Rather than flailing my arms around in circles for 10 reps and calling it good, I’ll crush a tennis ball and draw the largest possible circle with my fist (from front to back) doing my best to stay avoid moving body parts to draw that circle.   

These mobility drills involve articulating joints through a maximum controlled range motion.  It’s simple, but not easy.  Each repetition is painfully slow.  You can find a lot of these drills on my YouTube page.  

Functional Range Conditioning refers to these joint nourishing exercises as CARs (controlled articular rotations).  

I also like to get on the floor and move.  

Twisting, turning, reaching, flexing/extending, squatting, lunging, blending pushing movements and rotation movements, crawling, changing levels, tossing, throwing, etc.

5-10 minutes are allocated to getting lost in bodyweight-based groundwork.

Some workouts, I’ll include a wood plyo box or other pieces of equipment, but moving with bodyweight through an open space remains the foundation.

Here are a few other things I like to practice during the warm-up:

  • Mobility techniques
    • Kinstretch
    • Gymnastics drills
    • Spinal Waves
    • Wood dowel training 
  • Improvised ground-based movement
  • Exploring new exercises, methods, and techniques
    • Macebell training
    • Weck Method drills (Coiling, RMT rope drills, etc)
    • Hybrid kettelbell exercises
      • Turkish Get Up variations
      • Swing variations
      • Hand-to-hand exercises 
    • New Bodyweight Movements
      • Sissy Squats
      • Dragon Squats
      • Task-Based Challenges
      • Legless Rope Climbs
      • Parallette Bar drills 

Total Body Pre-Workout Preparation

A while back, I uploaded a YouTube video demonstrating 14 different warm-up exercises to prepare the entire body for a workout. 

Here is the video…

Exercise order:

1.  Shoulder CARs

2.  Spine CARs

3.  Hip CARs

4.  Dowel Assisted Sissy Squats

5.  90/90 Series (transfers, lift offs, hovers, etc)

6.  Prone Swimmers Hovers

7.  Bodyweight Squats

8.  Bodyweight Lunges

9.  Bodyweight Push-Ups

10.  Side Kick Throughs

11.  Crab Reach

12.  Back Bridge

13.  Scorpion Reach

14.  Cossack Squat w/ Horse Stance Pause

Take notice of all of the joint articulations, slow tempo movement of arms and legs through challenging patterns, bodyweight exercises and movement combinations. 

It’s all there. 

Basic joint mobility work, ground-based conditioning, and exploratory movement training can really have a significant impact on your movement capacity, joint health, and performance.  

In time, movements that once plagued you or simply felt impossible, begin to feel very achievable.  Joints feel buttery.  Your body is changing.  Adapting to the stimulus. 

If you’re training 4-5 days per week, sectioning off 15-20 minutes to warm up with a few of the exercises featured in the video can add 60+ minutes of unique training to your regularly scheduled workout regimen. 

This adds up.  

Daily, the full-body approach to warming up is my personal preference.  Even if the day’s workout is mostly upper body, I still deliver a stimulus to the hips, knees and ankle joints.  

Conducting total body maintenance has made my body feel better at 35 years old then I did when I was supposedly at my “peak physical condition” in college.  

Nothing against people who opt for upper and lower body splits, but I prefer a daily micro-dose of joint articulations and full range movement.  

Find what works best for you.

It might not be what works best for me… and that is ok.  

How long should a warm-up be?

Working through 14 exercises generally takes 15-20 minutes, depending on reps and tempo per exercise.    

Should it always take 15-20 minutes?  

No.  Starting out, expect it to take longer because you won’t know what the hell you’re doing.  

Time will decrease as you become more familiar and waste less time setting up.      

All this being said, the more volume with most of these exercises, the merrier.  

How many reps per exercise?

In the video, I demonstrate 2-3 reps per exercise.  

I reduced the reps to keep the video moving along and lower the boredom factor.  Plus, uploading a 20+ minute video to YouTube can be full of problems.

Increase the reps to 8-10 per side for each exercise. 

Progress through all 14 exercises, one after the other, non-stop until the end. 

Of course, pause and rest as needed, but don’t waste too much time.  

Keep the show moving. 

Reminder… 

This warm-up shows 14 different exercises.  

Only 14.  There’s a mountain of other effective warm-up exercises not shown in this video.  

I simply wanted to share an example of a total body warm-up routine. 

There are many other incredible mobility drills, activations, locomotion exercises and ground-based movements not included in the video.

A total body warm-up can be organized a thousand different ways.  

Should all warm-ups look like this?

They don’t have to.  

Some days my pre-workout build-up consists of jumping rope for a few minutes paired up with crawling.  Other days I’m in the mood for ground flow, swinging kettlebells, rolling around on the floor, wall assisted handstands, etc.  

I like to mix it up.  

It doesn’t always follow this 14 exercise recipe.

On days where I am engaging in a long slow cardio session, I’ll climb on my air bike and ride.  No warm-up at all.  

The message of this post is to audit your current warm-up routine and observe if you’re breezing through a below-average pre-workout warm routine.  

Are you undervaluing warm-up time?  Is there room for improvement?

I’d bet there is.  

I used to overlook my warm-ups, and I’d guess a lot are doing the same.  

Time is a valuable commodity and goal achievement is important.  

Warming up with greater purpose can help to accelerate the time it takes to reach physical goals, keep your body feeling good and leverage your time in the gym.     

 

 

Cheers to getting after the warm-up, 

Kyle 

 

Alternatives to Ido Portal Method

Ido Portal
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“Coming soon” since 2013…

I’ve been checking the Ido Portal Method website for 7 years hoping the “store” page would populate with a few online products.  

Take my money Ido Portal, take my money.

7 straight years of, “Coming Soon”.

I’m confident saying Ido Portal is not going to write a book or create a digital product.

Ido has mentioned in interviews he doesn’t want to chain his work to the “foreverness” of a book.  

Plus Ido Portal Method training philosophy is constantly evolving and expanding, so he’d likely have to compose a 10,000-page book on movement training, which would receive weekly edits for all eternity. 

Like others who wanted to know more about The Ido Portal Method, I started to compile notes from his old blogs, YouTube videos, and interviews.  The idea was to collect enough information, sort it out and begin piecing together a program for myself.

But at some point, I’d burned out.  

I started researching alternatives.  Something that could bring me close to the Ido Portal Method style of training, without wrecking my bank account (more on that below).

While the Ido Portal Method has brand name recognition (with movement training), I knew there had to be other training systems comparable to, possibly even better.

Initial search results confirmed that there were some amazing alternatives.  

The Bones of Ido Portal Method

Weeks of sorting through older content on Ido’s first blog, YouTube videos, and other media was time-consuming and painful.  

But, it gave me valuable insight into his movement philosophy.  

Deconstructing his training methods, it becomes clear Ido Portal Method is a carefully organized hybrid system.

A collection of many different disciplines and methods:

  •  Ground-Based Conditioning  
  •  Gymnastics
  •  Traditional Resistance Training
  •  Mobility 

Categorizing the main elements provided clarity on what to look for during my alternative program search.

Again, looking through the magnifying glass, one will find elements of gymnastics, locomotion, Yoga, traditional resistance training, dance, Capoeira along with mobility training from Functional Range Conditioning (FRC).

Most of these methods are bodyweight-based.  However, Ido does utilize barbells, dumbbells and other tools to train strength or loaded stretching.

“Expensive Machines, Cheap Bodies”, is a classic theme inside Ido’s camp.

While I disagree with going cold turkey on all gym gadgets, I do understand Ido’s point of view.  People get lured into thinking they need fancy fitness machines to get into shape, build strength, etc.

You don’t.

Equipment manufacturers do not care if you buy their products only to love it when a customer buys a product, only to use it for drying wet laundry.  They have your money, you have clutter.

The potency and power of a simple gym set up can be humbling.  A pair of gymnastics rings, an overhead pull up bar, a space to crawl/roll and a willingness to train hard more than enough to make huge gains.

The Rise of Locomotion

Ido Portal did not invent locomotion, crawling and floor flow sequences.

I know this will be difficult for some people to read, but humans crawl as babies during early development and flow-oriented training has been around for generations.

He can be credited with being one of the first to post locomotion work on YouTube.

Crawling/locomotion, bridging and various “Floreio” elements is a great way to expand workouts away from linear exercises.  It’s easy to see the Capoeira influence.

Locomotion exercises can be progressed similarly to traditional exercises, giving beginners an opportunity to practice regressions while offering advanced trainees some really difficult patterns.

Along the way, isolated locomotion work is fused with other movements to create sequences.

Movement 20XX (a digital program from Vahva Fitness described below) was one of the first programs I found to be teaching a similar ground-based conditioning/locomotion curriculum at a FRACTION OF THE COST.

Newsflash:  Online coaching with Ido Portal Method is expensive as shit.

How do you quantify “expensive as shit”?

Expensive as shit = $1,000-$2,000 for 3 months (3-4 hrs per day, 6 days per week)

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Price tag 6 years ago, best believe it’s higher now. 

It’s unlikely you’ll be coached by Ido Portal himself, but rather one of his students.  Plus, they reserve the right to fire you with zero refund.

People can justify and afford to spend $150 on a program.  Especially one with zero compromises in content and coaching, and likely a superior delivery with stream quality and support.

Across 12 months, that’s $15 per month.  Very doable.  

Spotlighted below are a few training systems worth exploring:

Movement 20XX

Movement 20XX

Movement 20XX is a bodyweight based training system that uses ground-based conditioning exercises and combinations to create pre-planned flows and movement sequences.  

Natural movement training.

Students start out by training movements in isolation, gaining strength, stability and fluidity prior to transitioning into movement sequences, and eventually improvised flow work. 

Movement 20XX blends many different movement disciplines, cherry-picking the best elements from Parkour, Yoga, bodyweight training, etc.

I started working on beginner locomotion years ago.  Doing so changed everything about my movement quality, capacity and confidence.  

It also started a shift in how I viewed the “working out” and fitness.   

The first few weeks of crawling was no joke.  It was humbling and I sucked.  But in time, my body adapted to the demands, graduating from stiff and immobile… to pliable, dynamic and strong.

My early attempts at the lizard crawl were ugly.

It’s a tough pattern.  The body position and range of motion were foreign, and the timing of the hand/foot movements was a challenge to manage.  Getting into the low position was challenging (trademark of the lizard crawl), much less moving anywhere.

I reluctantly swallowed my pride and started training as a true beginner.  The basics of crawling became my daily practice.

With practice, progression and adaptation, the Lizard Crawl became one of my favorite locomotion patterns, and still is to this day.

I experiment with a lot of hybrid variations of the lizard crawl now, along with integrating it into conditioning circuits.  Nothing like sucking wind while crawling 1 inch off the floor.  Whew.

Locomotion exercises are primarily quadrupedal (4 points of contact with arms and legs) and move the body through a natural (yet uncommon) range of motion, reconnecting the upper and lower extremities, challenge the torso muscles, timing, etc.  

I include a variety of crawling patterns in nearly all of my workouts.  

Currently, I use crawling patterns inside of pre-workout warm-ups (daily tune-up) on strength-focused days, as part of work capacity circuits or with bodyweight based flow sessions.  

The bodyweight based flow sessions are fun and equally challenging for the body and mind.  The premise is simple.  I move around a room without a plan for 10, 15, 20+  minutes.  

Here’s an example flow…

 

A lot of crawling and locomotion patterns I integrated from Ido Portal Method (skimming the blogs and social media) are being taught by Eero Westerberg in Movement20XX, which is why the program made the list as a valid alternative to Ido Portal online coaching.

Movement 20XX was designed to be effective when used remotely, which makes it great for training at home or while traveling.  The program design is progressive and structurally sound.  

 

Global Bodyweight Training

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Strength is a critical component of becoming a better mover.  

Dare I say… strength might be the most important of them all.

Strength comes in many forms.  Strength doesn’t always have to be associated with bench pressing 3x your bodyweight, deadlifting a truck or heaving a 300lb atlas stone onto a platform.

A full range of motion single arm push up is a demonstration of pure strength.

As I get older, I care less and less about quantifying my performance with numbers (weight on the barbell, etc).

What I do care about, is how my body feels the other 23 hours a day (when I’m not training) and also what I’m able to with my body in both known and unknown situations where I need to be able to perform.

There’s some truth to the old saying, “Nice body, what can you do with it?”

Bodyweight Athlete curriculum introduces and educates people on the power of leveraging bodyweight based strength training.  

When I found Global Bodyweight Training, the first thing I noticed was how closely the curriculum matched what I had designed for myself.  It was nearly a carbon copy.

I’d recently decided to trim the fat with regard to exercise selection and variation, choosing to pursue higher-level bodyweight patterns like single-arm push-ups, single-leg squat variations, handstand positioned pressing, L-Sits, etc.

Progressive bodyweight training requires plenty of body tension, attention to detail and refinement of technique.

Bodyweight Athlete is a structurally sound training program for anyone interested in experiencing the potency of bodyweight training.  

The best part about bodyweight training is it can be taken ANYWHERE.  

You’re never without an opportunity to workout.

Bodyweight-based patterns included in the curriculum:

  • Muscle Ups
  • Handstand Push-Ups
  • Single Arm Push-Ups
  • Single Arm Body Rows
  • Pistol Squats
  • Handstands
  • L-Sits
  • Human Flag 
  • Back Levers

The exercise progressions listed can be scaled for any level fitness, from beginner or elite level movers.

 

Carefully selected exercises and well-timed progression of those exercises are extremely powerful.

The human body is an adaptation machine.  In order to continue making progress, you’ve got to increase the challenge somewhere.  Increasing the challenge can mean adding load, complexity, volume, time under tension, etc.

Quality programs are designed to condition the body progressively and safely.  You want to boost performance while limiting the chance of injury during training.

Regarding injuries, always remember there is life outside of the gym.  If you’re destroying your body while working out, life is going suck.  Dealing with daily aches and pains, dysfunction and injury is no way to live.

Keep the needle moving… safely.  Your gym work should enhance your life, not take away from it.

Bodyweight Athlete emphasizes joint mobility work, core conditioning, self-myofascial release, and breathwork.  These are lesser-known elements (yet important) of a comprehensive approach to building a body.  

It’s easy to become fixated on the sexy part of the program… the exercises.

Building a high performing body is a multi-faceted approach.

Mobility, establishing and expanding your useable range of motion, is CRITICAL.

I’ll go ahead and say mobility training IS strength training.

Keeping joints buttery and strong contributes to adding useable strength to your frame and also avoiding doctor’s visits for preventable joint conditions later in life.  

Core training.  Lots of people have gone deaf to the importance of training the core.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but I think it could be because people are wasting their time with most core-focused exercises.  

In fitness, the pendulum always seems to swing too far in one direction (with concepts, machines, techniques, etc) and people get hyper-focused on things for a little while before the novelty eventually fades.

I think this is sort of what happened with core training.

Just like low load/high volume bodyweight exercises (1000 bodyweight squat workouts) do very little for increasing raw strength, limited range of motion crunches and sloppy toe-to-bar work also do little to contribute to developing a functional core.  

(Oh. My. God.  He said “functional”.  Send me a better word and I’ll edit it out)

Take a single arm push up.  If your mid-section is weak, you’ll know within the first 6 inches of the descent.  Low back with fold, ribs will flare, compensatory movement becomes the default operating system.

Approach your core training like you’d approach building other patterns (squat, deadlift, pulling, pushing, etc) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Core conditioning still matters.

Check out Global Bodyweight Training

Strength and Movement Training

Everyone will read and digest this article differently (seeing value or maybe not seeing as much value) and I understand that we all have different financial budgets for investing in programs.  

That being said, I do believe that combining the strength work from The Bodyweight Athlete with the ground-based conditioning elements (crawling, locomotion, etc) taught in Movement20XX is an extremely powerful approach to take.  

You’re getting the best of both worlds.  Strength and natural movement training.

Train elements from each in the same workout, or, alternate every workout.

I’ve used both approaches and found each to be equally effective and enjoyable.

Either way, you’re going to make great progress.

Follow a system

Find a training system and follow it.

I’ve provided a few options for you to look into, please do.

Skipping around from program to program, using bits and pieces of various techniques doesn’t deliver the same results when compared to digging in and following every detail from a full training system.  

Building fitness and movement capacity is a multi-faceted endeavor.  

There’s plenty to consider and monitor. 

Strength, mobility, movement training, traditional resistance training all play a significant role in creating a strong, well-conditioned, injury resistant, dynamic body.

It’s a lot to think about, it’s not easy, but in time you’ll begin to gain an understanding of how to building a body.  The path to improvement should be simple, not complex.

Avoid the minutiae of complex training systems.  Both of the programs above are structured with clear communication, free of B.S. and straight to the point.

Keep it simple.  Work hard, stay consistent, bust your ass when you’re training and remember to give your body rest when necessary.

The best advice I can offer is to limit the “paralysis by analysis” and exhaustive research.

Yes, do your own homework and self-educate, observe which programs are worth trying out, but ultimately remember to settle on 1 or 2 get into the gym to do the work.

Nobody ever  “thought” themselves into a better moving body with less body fat.

At some point, you must get your hands dirty and move, even if you’re god awful.  If you’re new to this stuff, lord knows, you might be god awful.

Keep at it and your body will begin to adapt.  You’ll move with improved grace, balance, strength, and confidence.

In the beginning, nobody knows what the hell they are doing.  Not Ido Portal, not me, no one.

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If you’d like to see what I’m up to, check the Meauxtion YouTube channel or Instagram to see what my daily training looks like from a home gym. 

 

Cheers to your success,

Kyle