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Making the Most of Warm-Ups for SGT

Making the Most of Warm-Ups

By Sarah Rippel -Author of Build N Burn

I have been incorporating basic barbell lifting into my small group training program for over four years, which coincides somewhat with me bringing my groups indoors. This is also a reflection of my retiring from the sport of triathlon in the summer of 2013 and returning to my true love: lifting. I was a bodybuilder and figure competitor back in the day, competing in my first show in the fall of 1996 and hanging up my bikini and clear stilettos in the summer of 2001. Coming back to the iron was so easy! I began training for powerlifting in early 2014 and competed in three meets from March 2014-October 2015.


In becoming increasingly proficient at training the basic lifts for the sport of powerlifting, I really began to realize just how empowering and impactful barbell lifting could be the ladies in my group training program. I had been running both outdoor and indoor groups for years, but barbells were never in the equation because of logistics. Falling back into lifting and feeling & seeing the difference it made on my body, mind, & spirit made it easy to want to share this with others!


My groups finish up our most recent program this week and will be shifting to a new plan next week. The process of wrapping things up began last week. We are testing out the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) and overhead press with a single work set that is AMRAP at 90% of estimated max.


In building up to this main set, my goal was to first have everyone go through a pretty basic warm-up circuit to get moving, then move on to a second little circuit that incorporates warm-up sets for the main lift of the day.

As you can see in the picture, for Day 2 (Bench Press), we went through three rounds of a circuit consisting of: Arm Sweeps, Scapular Push-Ups, and ½-Kneeling Windmills. This circuit is ground-based and doesn’t require a ton of moving around, nor does it require a ton of equipment. This was an efficient and effective total-body circuit that opened the thoracic spine, got the muscles of the upper back firing, and involved all three planes of movement.


The “Bench Prep” circuit consisted of: Kickstand (aka Staggered Stance) Kettlebell Halos, Tall-Kneeling Band Pull-Aparts, & the first three Bench Press warm-up sets.


We went through three rounds for both of these circuits, but anywhere from 1-3 rounds could be appropriate based on your individual programming and clients.


I have found this strategy to be very effective for how I have been programming for my ladies small groups these days. We have been placing more emphasis on strength and less on conditioning during our sessions, so we have more time to focus lifting. When we shift into a program that incorporates more conditioning work during our sessions, I will trade this strategy for one that deals with tying the movements used during the strength work together with exercises in the conditioning work. Yes, I have strategies for pretty much everything these days! Hint: you will probably see an article from me where I discuss this!


Here are 4 warm-up protocols I designed for my groups to use in this final testing week!




General WU:

2-3 Rounds (not for time):

  1. Arm Sweep x 3/side (use full breath cycle for ea. rep)
    1. https://youtu.be/-cKD9epqpxA?t=1m8s
  2. Scapular Push-Up x 6 (quadruped or push-up position)
    1. https://youtu.be/kS7eaTB80lQ
  3. 1/2-Kneeling Windmill x 6/side
    1. https://youtu.be/C9HkEiH_TcE


Bench Press Prep Circuit:

3 Rounds:

  1. Staggered Stance KB Halo – x 4/forward leg (clockwise + counterclockwise = 1 rep)
    1. https://youtu.be/WZMgW4U7erI
  2. Tall-Kneeling Band Pull-Apart x 10
    1. https://youtu.be/_W5buH2F3J8
  3. Bench Press Warm-Up Set (50% x 5 / 60% x 3 / 70% x 3)
    1. https://youtu.be/maMmeR1-Dek




General WU:

2-3 Rounds:

  1. Single-Unders x 50
    1. https://youtu.be/46kUGGPGgP0
  2. Mini Band Hip Extension x 10-15/side
    1. https://youtu.be/LVKRBTkRjBk
  3. 1-Leg X-Body Reach w/3s Eccentric x 5/side
    1. https://youtu.be/27URjbbJyjU
  4. Hollow Hold Variation 20s
    1. https://youtu.be/ZBp6SHj51p0



Deadlift Prep Circuit:

3 Rounds:

  1. Couch Stretch x 30s/side
    1. https://youtu.be/_onOAUAia-Y
  2. Band Straight-Arm Pulldown x 10-15
    1. https://youtu.be/9y3nJtK1MGk
  3. Deadlift Warm-Up Set (50% x 5 / 60% x 3 / 70% x 3)
    1. https://youtu.be/VxyqpwOc6CY




General WU:

2-3 Rounds:

  1. 1 Min Easy Row/Ski/Bike/Run
  2. Spiderman with Reach x 3/side
    1. https://youtu.be/KDnwDm_n78o
  3. Lateral Squat x 5/side
    1. https://youtu.be/ZgPzt-4vK80
  4. Empty Bar or Light DB Thruster x 8
    1. https://youtu.be/2L33MrAsKoA
    2. https://youtu.be/d9uCiNWliOs


Overhead Press Prep Circuit:

3 Rounds:

  1. Tall-Kneeling Vertical Pull-Aparts x 10
    1. https://youtu.be/c_VjP-EuIEs
  2. MB Push Press Toss – 10+ lbs x 5 (DO NOT catch! Pick up the ball for each rep)
    1. https://youtu.be/2SXDA8tWOkg
  3. OHP Warm-Up Set (50% x 5 / 60% x 3 / 70% x 3)
    1. https://youtu.be/rWCOJCe6Oqk




General WU:

3 min Cardio

1 min Couch Stretch/side

THEN 3 Rounds:

  1. Light Wall Ball x 10
    1. https://youtu.be/mOjEgmjN6Nw
  2. Plank Hold 20s


Back Squat Prep Circuit:

3 Rounds:

  1. Box Jump x 5
    1. https://youtu.be/YF9I-tMEGb4
  2. Goblet Squat Hold – 20+ lb KB or MB x 10s
    1. https://youtu.be/f8R35p1fCxA
  3. Squat Warm-Up Set (50% x 5 / 60% x 3 / 70% x 3)
    1. https://youtu.be/oyb5dz4Q26I



Check Out Sarah Ripple’s Build N’ Burn  – Done For YOU  Metabolic Small Group Training System for Fit Pros

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Other articles by Sarah Rippel:

The Continuous 20-Second Interval Format
(“BURN” Circuits w/ Videos ) 

Alternating EMOMs for Small Group Training

Small Group Programming – The “How” & the “Why”

The Evolution of the 14 Station MegaCircuit  

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