We know the benefits of a quality strength-program. From improved athletic performance to better mental health, improved physique to better sleep-who doesn’t want all of these byproducts of working out? But before we can throw around heavy weights and reap the benefits, we have to make sure our bodies are prepared for the strain that we’re about to put it through. Today we’ll lay out the science-backed weightlifting warm-up to have you prepared to work hard and remain injury-free.
So how should I be warming up for my lifts?
Generally speaking, a dynamic warmup with movements that incorporate muscle contractions and joint movements (think air squats, lunges, band pull-apart) is better than static stretching to prepare the body for exercise. Furthermore, the more specific the movement is to what exercise you are going to be performing, the better. For example, use a progressively heavier goblet squat to prepare for a barbell back squat effort. Even mixing in some warm-up sets of the major movement itself to acclimate your body to the higher loads will help to prepare your body for the working sets.
We want to incorporate movements that address common problem areas and increase mobility to complete the full range of motion, without straining your body. Here’s an example of a quick 10-minute warmup to prime your body to work:
Full Body Prep/Prime
- SMR* CALVES/QUADS/HIP FLEXOR
- HIP FLEXOR/ANKLE MOBILITY
- ADDUCTOR/THORACIC MOBILITY
- FULL BODY PREP-WALKOUT TO PIGEON TO PUSHUP
- GLUTE ACTIVATION (SINGLE LEG GLUTE BRIDGE)
- HIP/ANKLE OPENERS
*SMR=Self-myofascial release, more commonly known as foam rolling
Once your body is warm and ready to throw some weight around, how heavy should you be lifting? Let’s say you’re working set is 135 pounds. You don’t want the jump between warm up and working sets to be so drastic that you fail to prepare your mind and body for what’s to come! An easy way to incorporate warm up sets without burning you out would be to do 45%, 70%, and 75% of your target working set. So, in this example, you’d be doing sets with 60, 95, & 100 pounds for sets of 5 or so. The goal of these warmup sets is to prime your body to complete the anticipated workload (be it 3 sets of 8 repetitions, etc.), without being burnt out before you get to those maximal load sets.
A proper weightlifting warmup is paramount to injury-prevention and PR’s. Be fastidious in completing a warmup each and every time you plan to lift. You’ll increase your longevity, prolong your ability to go hard, and become a better athlete no matter your sport. Hit that warmup and let the gains begin!
Kevin is a former collegiate baseball player turned Personal Trainer and Fitness Consultant to a global corporate wellness company. He is passionate about fitness and the importance of a holistic relationship with health/wellness. He loves anything outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and chasing his hyperactive 3-year-old (all of which oddly correlate with each other). To learn more, reach out to him at [email protected]