The worst warm-up for a kickboxing workout

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in gyms lately in their kickboxing workouts.

So many kickboxing classes have warm-ups that just set up the remainder of the kickboxing workout for failure. Failure is the key word here, and I’ll mention it a few times in this post. And I’m not talking about an EPIC FAIL, though you might agree it is after reading.

kickboxing workout

One of the biggest mistakes I see in warm-ups in kickboxing workouts (and conditioning workouts) is that trainers and gyms have this concept of going all out and kicking your ass during the warm-up. This is perfect for setting you up for overtraining, injuries, and bad form during kickboxing workouts. When I say that these warm-ups are setting you up for failure, I mean that in a very specific and literal way. I see many martial arts and kickboxing workouts where the warm-ups are so intense that you are pushing to complete a set and struggling to get through the workout. AKA, you are working to failure before you start the real kickboxing workout. You are working until you can’t work anymore. What does this do for your kickboxing workout?

Well this is just stupid and it sucks for your kickboxing workout in a number of ways.

  1. First, you’re essentially skipping the warm-up and going straight into your workout. How much sense does this make? The purpose of the warm-up is just that. You are trying to increase your body temperature, get the blood flowing, and wake up your sleepy muscles. If you start out by doing a max set of push-ups, you’re still getting warmed up. You won’t be able to do your max. You’re wasting energy on a sub-maximal set, and you’re not able to push yourself to your real max for actual gains. You are pushing yourself to muscular failure prematurely before you even start the kickboxing workout. Failure #1
  2. You will be fatigued early, so you can’t do your actual work sets. If you can normally do 50 push-ups after your warm-up, but you push yourself to do your max during warm-up and only hit 30-40, what does that do for you? That uses up energy that you could be allocating toward doing your actual work sets. Now, instead of being able to do your normal 50 push-ups, you wasted energy on the warm-up and can’t actually hit your normal workloads.
  3. You’re increasing your risk for injury during a kickboxing workout. If you are trying to do a hardcore conditioning workout at the start of your warm-up, your muscles are still sleepy, your joints aren’t lubricated, and you’re still stiff. This is setting you up for hurting yourself by wasting your energy by trying to activate muscles and use them at the same time. Lunges on sleepy glutes? Sounds like a pulled muscle to me. Plyo on stiff legs? Sounds like knee problems to me. Push-ups on dry shoulders? Injury waiting to happen in your kickboxing workout.
  4. You are setting yourself up for poor technique and bad habits. If you are fatigued from your warm-up, your muscles have already reached the point of failure. This means that your body will recruit alternate muscle groups to execute your kicks and punches during your kickboxing workout. This means that when you train, you’re not acting efficiently, and your body will develop muscle memory out of the working muscle groups. You will also likely be very sloppy because you’re having trouble lifting your arms or maintaining your stance. If you arms are on fire, how accurate is that jab going to be? This leads to poor technique, sloppy execution, and inefficient strikes. You will also be so tense from your workout, so you can’t be loose and relaxed like you should be when you fire off that knockout kick or punch.

So what is the best structure for a kickboxing workout warm-up?

First, you want to make sure that you hit all the major muscle groups you will be using during your workout. For kickboxing, you want to include hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors, chest, shoulders, wrists, arms, and cardio. Yes, you want to include cardio as part of your warm-up. You don’t need to do time on a treadmill, or long slow distance cardio. That’s a workout, not a warm-up. However, if you hit all of the above muscle groups in your warm-up and do them in a continuous circuit, you will get some cardio as well. Other tips to consider, try and stick to one set or each exercise, keep each exercise under 30 seconds, keep under 10-15 reps of each exercise, and keep the entire warm-up under 5-10 minutes. This allows you to put time and energy into your techniques, where it really matters.

One warm-up I use regularly is part of Eric Wong’s Ultimate MMA Strength and Conditioning Program. Also, his ultimate fight prep warm-up is awesome for getting you loose before your match. Check it out. I strongly recommend it.

kickboxing workout

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