Warm Up and Cool Down Flow

by Paul Britt on March 22, 2017

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Senior RKC Paul Britt

How do you warm up for training? Is there a flow and/or pattern to it? How about the cool down afterwards? I like to consider economy of movement in my warm-ups because it tends to speed up my prep and my cool down. I want the warm-up to systematically prepare me for the session ahead—and I have designed it to work on my mobility and stability issues. In our modern society, we all seem to have similar thoracic restrictions, core stability, active straight leg raise restriction, and toe touch difficulties.

I perform the warm-up in a circuit for one or two sets. Even though one set is typically enough, if I am not warmed up appropriately when I get to the end of the first set, I will add a second. I want to make sure that nothing is left out of my full-body warm-up. The same goes for the cool down—I want to make sure that I hit all my issues that need work. I use this particular flow because my issues are thoracic mobility restriction, ankle mobility. Since I am sitting a lot in class, those are the areas where I concentrate at the start and finish of my workout session.

I start my warm-up with a minute or two on the foam roller. If you have to spend a lot of time on your foam roller or if you’ve named it, get checked out by a professional of some type. I really do a quick run through with it to scan and work through any major trigger points. After the roller, it is time to start moving and warming up.

Perform the following in a circuit:

  • Tall kneeling halo x 10 each way with a light kettlebell
  • 1 RKC armbar on each side
  • Bretzel left and right
  • Pump stretch x 10
  • 1 Get-up on each side
  • 5 Prying goblet squats with same weight as the Halo

After one or two times through my warm-up circuit, I perform five kettlebell deadlifts. I stand up and reset on each lift to perfectly set the groove. In general with my warm-up, everything starts on the ground and moves upward. It is easy to transition from tall kneeling to lying to the deadlifts at the end. It tends to flow well for me.

My cool down follows the same progression, and also moves from the ground up:

  • Supine piriformis stretch, 10 seconds left and right
  • Bretzel left and right
  • Shin box stretch (video)
  • Heel sit stretch
  • Child pose
  • Frog stretch
  • RKC hip flexor stretch
  • Hip flexor stretch with a twist
  • Elongated hip flexor stretch
  • Standing hamstring stretch
  • Cossack stretch
  • Shoulder stretch left and right
  • Pull-up bar hang

Just like the warm-up, I like to move in a flow from the ground up. I did not specify any particular reps for the cool down, instead I typically use my breath to move through the stretches. I find that 3-5 diaphragmatic breaths will safely move me to the edge of my range of motion. I designed the warm-up and the cool down to flow from one position to the next with economy, this makes it faster than if I just did random stretches and warm-ups. Find out the issues you need to address and create a flow that allows you to move smoothly and quickly through the series.

If you are pinched for time, for a workout you could actually load the get-up and squat with a kettlebell and move through the circuit several times. You will benefit from the mobility work and build strength on an open frame. But only load those two exercises in the series. The kettlebell halo and RKC armbar are not strength exercises, they are movement prep and mobility/stability work, so a heavy load is not appropriate or safe.



Senior RKC Paul Britt has been an RKC kettlebell instructor since 2006. Paul trains people at workshops and privately. Paul is currently attending Parker University working on his Doctor of Chiropractic degree Paul has served as an assistant instructor at many RKC and HKC Courses, is a Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist (CK-FMS) and works with some of the top Chiropractors in North Texas. Please visit his website for more information or to contact him

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  • Paul, these sequences are pure gold. So many instructors and kettlebell enthusiasts ask about warmups and cool downs – they’re a great time to work on our mobility, but also important to get us in the right mindset as well. Great stuff!

    • Paul Britt

      Thank you. Hope to get some feedback on it after people try it out.

  • Great videos Mr. Britt. Thank you so much. I workout in my garage and backyard, so loved your cool-down video. Felt right at home.

    • Paul Britt

      Glad to hear that. Please let me know how it works for you.

  • Dan Brady

    Brilliant, can’t wait to start incorporating it into my workouts

    • Paul Britt

      Please let me know how it works for you. That allows me to know what to look at to fix it.

  • Michelle Henry

    Thank you for this very informative blog post. I’m going to use these sequences in my training and with my clients, too.

    • Paul Britt

      Thank you. Please let me know how it goes for you and the class. It will help me improve what I do and write about.

      • Michelle Henry

        Paul, I’ve been doing your warmup and cool down all this week and had my students do them, too. We all really liked the design of each and the easy flow of moving from one movement to the next and felt that all the major muscle groups were addressed. Warmup took about 10 minutes. Cooldown took about the same amount of time. Both are a great foundation for designing my own warmup and cool down flows. Thank you again!

        • Paul Britt

          I am really glad to hear that. It is one thing to design it and think it is cool, it is another when you hear others like it also

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