Warm ups are an essential part of each and every bootcamp workout that you do.
Instead of falling back on the old ‘run around the block’ to warm up your clients, throw in some of these bootcamp warm up drills to keep your workouts fun and interesting.
3 Rules For Warming Up Clients Before a Workout
Before I share my drills I want to cover some rules to keep in mind when creating your own warm up sessions:
- Ensure clients are fully warmed up by your warm up. A few jumping jacks and squats is not a sufficient warm up. Shoot for 5-15 minutes of activity depending on the length of your workout.
- Keep it simple. 6:00am is not the time to be explaining a complicated warm up drill. If you want to make it fancy, start simple and add one new part of the drill at a time.
- Make your warm up a fun and interesting part of the workout – not just something to get out of the way.
5 Fun Warm Up Drills
For each drill I’ve included a description on how it works and for some of them I’ve included a ‘make it harder’ section where you can throw in a twist to the drill once your campers have mastered the basic version.
If you have any questions, add them to comments below.
1. Directions (Left, Right, Up, Down, Back, Forward)
You will need a large space to run this drill.
How it works:
- Organize your clients into several ranks (4 or 5 columns should do the trick). The trainer should stand in front of the clients facing them.
- The trainer will call out Left, Right, Up, Down, Back or Forward instructing the clients what to do. Left, Right, Back and Forward indicate directions the clients should run and Up means tuck jump and Down means a pushup. Clients should be facing forwards at all times.
- Keep the clients moving for 3-5 minutes and then either repeat or increase the difficulty.
Make it harder: To make this more difficult and to get your clients brains working, try ‘opposites’ where clients have to do the opposite of what you say. Or try the drill in silence and just use your hands to give directions.
2. 4 Cone Square Warm Up
This drill can be run in a small or large area, just adjust the size of the square accordingly.
The great thing about this drill is that you only need 4 cones/markers.
How it works:
- Set up 4 cones in a square. Leave roughly 10 metres (30ft) in between them.
- Lead your clients in a single file jog around the outside of the square.
- After your clients have completed a few laps start introducing some direction changes. To do this explain to your clients that on your command ‘Change’ they are to change direction but only if you say ‘Direction’ first. So you would say ‘Direction… change!’ and your clients will start moving around the circle in the opposite direction. This may sound strange now, but it will be explained in the next couple of steps.
- Now add a new command like ‘Squat change’ or ‘Pushup change’ where the group must stop, complete one pushup/squat together and then change direction.
- If a client does too many reps or forgets to change direction, add one pushup/squat to the total for the group.
Make it harder: Call out incomplete commands like ‘Change’ or ‘Squat’. This works like the game Simon Says, if you don’t call out the full command it doesn’t count. Add reps to the squats and pushups for each client that slips up.
3. The Huddle Shuffle Warm Up
This drill is fantastic for small spaces and it a great way to build up some energy before a workout (especially on a cold morning!).
How it works:
- Have your clients gather in around you in a huddle (think of a sporting team gathering with their coach in a huddle).
- Start with some jogging on the spot.
- Direct the huddle to move side to side, get down low or move back and forwards. All while jogging on the spot and all while keeping the huddle close together.
- You can also speed up the jogging or slow it down or even just speed up the arms while keeping the legs the same speed or vice versa. Use your imagination.
4. Mobilizing Warm Up
As a trainer you know that mobility and flexibility are a huge part of fitness. Unfortunately our clients usually do no where near enough mobility work. This warm up is a great way to sneak some in, I will try my best to describe the exercises and will link to videos where I can find them.
How it works:
Spend 30-60 seconds on each of the following exercises (click the links for videos):
- Curtsey Lunge – Step one leg behind and laterally of the other leg into a curtsey like pose. Squat down keeping the hips facing forward. Stand back up and repeat on the other side. When performed correctly you should feel a stretch through the ITB.
- Robots (windmill) – Put your arms up in the scarecrow position. Bend forward at the hips and twist slightly at the same time keep your arms up. Keep your legs and back as straight as possible. Stand back up and repeat with a twist in the opposite direction.
- Downwards Dog Calf Rocks – Get down in a downward dog position. Place one leg over the other so that one foot is on the ground and the other is resting on your ankle. Slowly push the heel down to the ground and then bring it back up. Repeat 5-10 times and then switch sides.
- 1-leg Walkout to Push Up – Stand on one leg, walk your hands out ont he ground in front of you until you are in a pushup position. Do one pushup. Walk your hands back in and stand up while staying on one leg. Switch legs and repeat.
- X Squats
- T-Switches – Start in a pushup position, lift one hand up and reach it towards the sky. This should put you into a straight arm side plank. Bring the arm back down and repeat with the other side.
- Frog Squats – These are different to what I see on Youtube, I’m pretty sure the people on Youtube are wrong. Reach down and pop your fingers under your toes. Squat down as far as you can while keeping your heels on the ground. You will know when they come off the ground because your fingers will get crushed. Next push your hips up as high as you can straightening your legs. Keep your fingers under your toes. Squat back down again and repeat.
- Side-Side Squats – Bring the legs wide, keeping one leg straight move the hips laterally and squat down onto the other leg. Move the hips in the other direction as you bend the straight leg and straighten the bent leg. Make sense? Think of doing a lateral lunge but on the spot.
You can run this warm up again and again, just change a few of the mobility drills each time.
5. Collect The [Insert equipment here]
You can use this drill in very small spaces or very large spaces. It can be implemented in a variety of ways so what I’ll do is give you three different examples of how you can use it yourself.
- Layout boxing gloves, pads, wraps, inner gloves, skipping ropes etc. One at a time in pairs clients must run out and collect one piece of equipment eg. one client in the pair runs out and grabs one boxing glove and then runs back and tags in their partner who runs out and grabs another piece of equipment. As punishment, dish out 5 to 10 pushups to pairs who grab more than one piece of equipment or who end up with mismatching equipment (eg. two boxing gloves that are different brands).
- Distribute 50-100 cones around a large space like an oval. Working by themselves, have your clients run out and collect the cones and bring them back one at a time. The goal for each client is clients is to collect the largest stack of cones. Stop once all cones have been collected.
- If you are using bands, sandbags, kettlebells or any other type of resistance equipment, spread them around a small area. Then have your clients pair up. Their goal is to get all of the equipment that their pair will need for that days workout.
Clients can than move at their own speed to run out and grab one piece of equipment. Once they have brought their first piece of equipment back they must then perform 20 star jumps while their partner runs out to grab the next piece. Clients are to continue until they have all of their equipment. Remember to demonstrate the correct safe method to carry heavy equipment.
After The Warm Up Drill
After your clients have completed your warm up they’re then ready for the rest of your workout.
That might be going right into a group fitness game or proceeding on to the main part of your workouts (which could be a circuit). If there is time, make sure you throw in a finisher to end the session a high note.
If you’re looking for more warm up drills I recommend you check out my epic hoard of warm ups on BootCraft. Sign up this month (March 2023) and get a free 2 week trial! Check it out.
What’s your favourite warm up to run with your group? Share your favourite quick and simple bootcamp warm up ideas in the comments below.
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.
circle tag is a good one…
1. Line up the players from tallest to
2. Form groups of players of similar size by taking eight to ten players at a time from each end of the line. The groups then spread out.
3. Each group forms a linked circle (“a huddle”). That is, each player places their arms around the shoulders of the players on either side of them.
4. One player in each group is selected as the tagger, and they step outside the circle, which then links back up.
5. The tagger must run around the outside of the circle to tag the player who was opposite them in the circle; ie “the target”
7. The players in the circle move clockwise or anti-clockwise together, changing direction if necessary to protect the target, trying to keep that player safe from the tagger.
8. When the tagger is successful, the target becomes the tagger and the game is repeated.
If a tagger is obviously not going to be successful, they can rejoin the circle after 30-60 seconds. The target becomes the tagger and the game is repeated.
more at my website..
Thanks Tim, that looks like a good one!
I thought you just might like to know an exercise that I use, it’s quite challenging for most people. It’s called the ‘worm’. You start standing and crouch down to the floor, then you walk your hands out until you are in a ‘push up’ position. Next, do a full push up, and walk your legs up to meet your hands, stand up quickly and do a jump (like at the end of a burpee) and repeat. We ususally do these ones inside only and after one length of the hall people are very well worked!
Valentine Eco says
Thank you so much Kyle for this great post. I found it very useful. My best has been exercise that combines cardio & resistance training. You simply stand with your feet together and your arms to your side – then, in one movement, lift your arms above your head and separate your feet more than shoulder-width apart. Return to original position and repeat.
Kyle Wood says
Thanks Valentine, you mean like a jumping jack?
Hi Kyle! A warmup that I did last season that never failed to get campers laughing is to have soft footballs, like Nerf, and have everyone stand randomly in the field. Each person has a soft football. On “go”, everyone starts throwing their football towards someone, not for them to catch, just to land near them. They have to grab it quickly and then throw to someone else randomly. It starts getting so funny because sometimes someone will have 2 or 3 landing near them at the same time and they have to quickly grab each one and throw it to three different people! (*choose ‘soft’ in case things get crazy – you don’t want to accidentally bonk anyone on the head 🙂 I run this for about 4-5 minutes.