Warm Ups? We Don’t Need No Stinking Warm Ups!

An improper warm up greatly increases the risk of injury, especially in a sport with high physical demands. CrossFit combines Olympic weight lifting and gymnastics with heart-pounding cardio-intensive workouts. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well not so much if you have a good coach, use correct form, and properly warm up. The first two go hand-in-hand so let’s focus on fundamentals for the latter.

One of my favorite learning experiences (a.k.a. failures) in CrossFit was four years ago, when I was brand new to the sport, and thought I knew what I was doing. I was by myself in a work gym designed for meatheads. Being one of those meatheads, I decided that I was going to try CrossFit, and didn’t need to pay $100 a month just to work out. The workout that day had something to do with toes to bar and dead lifts. T2B meant I’ll be working my abs and some shoulders, and deadlifts were going to hit legs and a little lower back. No big deal, right? After a quick jog, some arm circles, and a few good mornings I thought, “I’m warm so let’s do this”!

The next day a sharp pain in my forearm decided to intermittently show up throughout the day. Being a meathead I really didn’t think anything of it until I got back in the gym at lunch and hopped up to do a couple “just for fun” toes to bar. I almost fell off the bar when my grip failed from pain shooting down my arm.  Where in the heck did this come from? I didn’t do anything with forearms yesterday… the workout was abs, legs and back.  I quickly realized my warm up the day before had nothing to do with grip strength and provided very little for shoulder mobility; doing high-intensity compound-movements would hit just about every muscle in the body and I’d neglected to properly prepare. As I learned throughout the remainder of the week not being able to hold a bar, barbell, dumbbell, or weight puts a huge hindrance on one’s ability to strength train. This experience changed my CrossFit game forever and it shows in my affiliate.

As a coach/owner my focus is on improving athletic performance while minimizing the risk of injury. A typical day’s programming at CrossFit ABF will have a scheduled Warm Up, Skill or Olympic Lift, and WOD or Work Out of the Day. When in actuality we will warm up for each of the components separately, putting way more focus on preparation than what’s advertised. We’ll spend 10-15 minutes on a dynamic warm up and a few minutes on a mobility specific for that day’s skill work. It is very important to note that the warm up and mobility elements performed prior to the workout are not meant to increase the athletes range of motion, but rather ensure the athlete achieving their current ROM. The athletes will then slowly add weight and methodically go through progressive movements until they reach the working weight for the skill. Once we finish the skill/oly session we start the warm up for the WOD from scratch.

Example: Let’s say we have a Rx athlete doing a few rounds of 100lb power snatches and pull ups. First, the athlete will work with an empty barbell (pvc pipe if necessary) and break down the power snatch into three to five basic movements – starting from the power position, progressing to the knee, and finally full light weight power snatch. Once they feel comfortable with a power snatch they’ll add 10lb plates for a warm up weight of 65lbs, and go through the movement progressions again. Between snatch sets the athlete may work in a few ring rows or pull ups to accommodate for the pull up portion of the WoD. They’ll generally rinse and repeat this process three or four times, going from 65lbs, to 85lbs, to 100lbs. Some clients are even encouraged to go 10% or 20% over the working weight to kind of trick the mind into thinking the weight for the WOD feels much lighter. This trick depends on the percentage of the working weight to the individual athletes one rep max and how proficient an athlete is in that particular movement.

This may seem like a tedious process to some but I find it’s better to be over prepared for a session than underprepared. Warm up properly, account for every muscle and joint that’s going to be worked, and if you’re not sure what do to, ASK! The longer you stay injury free the harder you can train.


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Amy Bell has always been into sports and fitness all her life, starting soccer at a very young age, playing competitively through high school. Once she started college, being an athlete and staying fit wasn’t really important to her at the time but quickly realized she needed to do something to get her fitness back in check. Her sister participated in CrossFit for over a year before she finally talked Amy into trying it. Once Amy did, she was hooked. She started CrossFit in Georgia as she finished her bachelor’s degree and then moved to Florida. Shortly after her move to Clearwater, planning on testing different gyms in the area, she bought a Groupon for ABF as her first one and stayed, never trying anywhere else.

Amy enjoys the community, the programming and the overall atmosphere of ABF. She been with ABF for four years now, making huge improvements to her fitness and dialing in on her nutrition. CrossFit has become a passion and a lifestyle for Amy. Working in the medical field, she realized how important fitness and nutrition are and if more people could make this kind of lifestyle change, even just a small change, there could be less people with illnesses and more living healthier lives. CrossFit has also given Amy the competitiveness she’s always loved playing sports, competing against other athletes at ABF as well as competing in local competitions and the CrossFit Open.

She has been a large part of how we’ve kept the gym clean the last three years. She has been planning to coach for some time now and finally completed her CrossFit Trainer O-L1 course in September 2021 to become an official coach at ABF. She is excited to be able to share her passion with others, to encourage and help fellow athletes reach their fitness goals.


CrossFit Level 1 Certification



Brandi fell in love with all things barbell after watching the CrossFit games in 2012. She hadn’t been into sports or fitness in her younger years, but had been looking for ways to improve her strength and conditioning between a desk job and being a mom. After failing to make much headway in a standard globo-gym, she bought a Groupon for a local CrossFit box and immediately realized there was no turning back. The supportive community and infinite scalability of CrossFit has kept her engaged and coming back for more. Years later, Brandi continues to grow into a well-rounded athlete.

Her passion and dedication has lead fellow athletes to look to her for guidance on their lifts, so when Brandi was offered the chance to coach she jumped at it. Brandi earned her ABF L1.5 in 2020 and runs our foundations program. If you’re new to CrossFit, she will likely be your first coach.


CrossFit Level 1 Certification



Fitness has always been a piece of her life, but things didn’t change until she found a Groupon for CrossFit ABF. Andrea gave ABF a chance after years of attending a regular gym that left her wanting more out of fitness. This was the best choice she made as it combines her love of being social with new and old friends and a newfound love of lifting weights and pushing herself to the limits. CrossFit ABF has shown her what a FitFam really means as she looks forward to working out with them every week.

Andrea is an inspiring mother to her daughter Layla and her giant fur babies, Storm and Thunder. You can catch Andrea killing a workout, rollerblading down the causeway, or enjoying a night out line dancing (yes, she loves her country music!). She enjoys the adventures of life and encourages others to strive towards their goals. Andrea continues to take her skills to the next level and wants to be there to help you do the same.


CrossFit Level 1 Certification



Amber Krumn, lovingly referred to as “Krumncake,” joined CrossFit ABF (and the overall discipline of CrossFit) in 2017 after she grew tired and bored of the “typical” gym atmosphere. Different from anything she’d done before, she grew to enjoy CrossFit due to its varied workout types. Every day’s workout finally became exciting! An avid runner, Krumncake also fell in love with the sporting aspect of CrossFit. Recently, she’s become more interested in the nutritional aspects of functional fitness and you’ll often find her trying to improve the sport’s various skills, which, in turn, make the sport all the more challenging.



CrossFit Level 1 Trainer



Ryan McElhaney is a CrossFit Level II Trainer, USAW Level II Coach, CrossFit Gymnastics, and CrossFit Movement and Mobility Certified. He has been an athlete for as long as he can remember. His father built box jumps and agility courses in the backyard rather, than sending him to summer camps. He’s participated in soccer, track & field, cycling, golf, basketball, paddle boarding, 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and extreme napping.

In February of 2012, he realized that he needed more than what the standard Globo-Gym could offer, so he finally took the advice of a good friend and gave CrossFit a try. He was hooked somewhere between 3-2-1 Go! and the gut-wrenching feeling of never having conquered a workout like this before. Continuously-varied challenging workouts, strong community support, constant improvement, and a proper diet are what fueled his passion to coach and inspire others to share in his success. Two years later he completed the CrossFit Level I Trainer course followed by CrossFit Movement & Mobility.

“I love to coach, it’s the highlight of my day when one of my athletes becomes proficient in a lift or movement and I’m extremely passionate about helping others improve their fitness. I’m also a big fan of any career that promotes flip flops and t-shirts as the standard work uniform… coaching!”

Ryan is married to Linda and they have an adorable puppy named Bella.


CrossFit Level II Trainer


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