Wednesday Musings: The Haka Warm-up

What goes into a good Haka workout? Is it a killer finisher? The camaraderie of working out with your favorite workout buddy? Or when I’ve had an extra cup of coffee and am not shooting people death glares from across the gym? The answer is probably yes to all of these things, and for good reason! Who doesn't like a good butt kicker at the end or good company? Psychopaths, that’s who!

But workout buddies will come and go and sometimes you need a little extra stretching instead of a conditioning set. And if we are being honest, my death glares just kind of come with my overall package. Sorry, but I ain’t sorry.

But there is one part of a workout you can always count on to get your mind and body right, the Haka Warm-up!

Our warm-up is probably what we are most known for and probably garners the most questions from new people. But what often seem like small, seemingly random, and montonenous movements actually serve a huge purpose in preparing you for the rest of your workout. So here is what makes up the anatomy of the Haka Warm-up!

1. Prime the Core

The first thing we want to do in any warm-up is prime the core/trunk/midsection. In just about any movement we do we require a neutral spine to help maintain proper posture and position throughout a movement. The best way to do that is by priming those muscles and getting them used to bracing the spine during our warm-up. Some of our favorite exercises to use during this section of the warm-up are deadbugs, bird-dogs, plank variations. These moments will not only challenge your ability to brace your trunk but they will also make you move your limbs through various planes of motion which will mimic movements we are going to do during our main sets, which begins to bleed into our next portion of warm-up exercises.

2. Patterning and Chunking

The next section of our warm-up takes a small step up in complexity as we begin to take our exercises from the main set and begin to break it down into smaller portions to prime the muscles for proper patterns we want to replicate during the actual exercices. The best example I can think of during this phase is the caterpillar. When you bring each foot up beside your hand, it looks very similar to the bottom of a squat, doesn’t it?


This is patterning and chunking. We are taking a complex movement in the bilateral hip hinge (aka the squat) and putting you into an optimal bottom position through a less complex movement in the caterpillar. After we go through these to prepare us for the main sets, we begin to move to our last portion of the warm-up.

3. Complex Movement Patterns

The trunk is braced, the muscles are primed and patterned, now it is time to string these movements into faster and more complex movements patterns. Not only will these put the final touches on the movement prep for our main sets, they will also begin to raise our internal temperature and ensure we are totally ready to hit the ground running when we start adding weight into the equation. Movements like bear crawls, reverse med ball tosses, and our cradle-lunge-twist fall into this category. These movements not only force you to string together movements using different muscles and patterns, they also will get you moving dynamically through space. So many of our exercises have you moving in awkward directions, we want to ensure that we prepare you fully for this by making it the final step of our warm-up!

And there you have it, the anatomy of the Haka Warm-up! Hopefully now you have a slightly better idea of the method behind our madness and understand now that a few jumping jacks and push-ups do not a warm-up make! If you have any questions or would like to learn a little more about our warm-ups, feel free to ask, or check out this video of Becca and I discussing it in greater detail!