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WARM UP BEFORE WORKOUT:

THE BASICS

Want to minimize the risk of injury by warming up before you start your workout?

Does your warmup make sense for the exercises you are about to perform?

Not a lot of people know how to warm up before a workout.

All too often I see people doing warm ups that have nothing to do with the exercises and workout they have planned.

An example of this would be running on the treadmill for 20 minutes to raise body temperature before doing bench. The other extreme would be not warming up at all then beginning your exercises and workout.

STRETCHING

Another ineffective and inefficient strategy is stretching for thirty minutes prior to a forty-five minute workout.

The purpose behind warming up is to do just that – warm the body up in preparation for the routine you are about to put it through.

Running on the treadmill won’t get you ready for bench press; immediately starting your lifts (cold) won’t allow your joints, muscle and connective tissue to get primed for your lifts; and stretching while cold well…it’s like throwing a rubber band in the freezer then trying to pull it apart.

You won’t get much out of it. The above three warm up approaches don’t add to your workout, may increase your risk of injury, and won’t help build strength, which is why you’re working out, right?

I suggest is limiting the amount of energy used to warm up so that you can put that energy into the exercise you plan on doing by doing a warm up routine that’s repeatable, broadly applicable, and gets the job done.

Here is an example of a dynamic warm up that minimizes energy expenditure, increases joint mobility, and is easy to do in a short amount of time (not more than 10 minutes).

DYNAMIC WARM-UP

10-12 REPS ONE SET OF EACH

  • Barbell Bent Over Row (back, arms, rear delt)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Romanian Deadlifts (hamstrings, hips, lower lumbar, glutes)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Barbell Squats (quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Banded Pull Apart (rear delt, scapula, traps, triceps)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Glute Bridges (glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Leg Swings (hips, lower lumbar)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Leg Kicks (hamstrings, glutes)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Cat Stretch (back, abdomen)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Banded Lateral Walks (glutes, hips flexors)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout
  • Face Pulls (delts, scapula, traps, biceps)
    How to warm up before a workout  How to warm up before a workout

WARM UPS FOR WORKING SETS

Sometimes as a coach you have an “Aha!” moment that can change how your clients do in the gym, and I recently had one with some clients and their warm ups.

I recently observed a client load the bar with their working weight, walk up to the bar and get set to perform the exercise.  I wasn’t sure so I asked, “Did you do any warm up sets?” When the reply was “No” it hit me like a truck and led me to think about another recent experience.

In my work with another client, it seemed like the client should be getting more out of their exercises.  I asked what they had been doing for a warm up to lead into their working sets.  The client reported they had been warming up with as many reps as were prescribed for the working sets (i.e. if 4 sets of 5 reps were prescribed the clients was also warming up with increasing weight by 4 sets of 5 reps).

IN THE WARM UPS

Earlier we talked about dynamic exercises you can do to warm up. Here, we’ll go over the best ways to work up to your working sets.

The warm ups for the actual exercise you plan on doing shouldn’t use up more energy than needed but should get you primed for your working sets.

With compound movements (i.e. multi-joint exercises like squat, bench press or deadlift) you’re typically lifting more weight, so the warm up would include more warm up sets (so you’re not starting cold, or moving the weight up too fast, which is ineffective and increases risk of injury).

Non-compound movements, i.e. leg extensions, don’t require as many. However, I’d still suggest a warm up set or two just so you can make any adjustments before doing the working weight.

With the warm up sets leading into working sets, its best to look at it as a count down. As you work your way through the warm up sets (by increasing the weight towards the working weight) you should also be decreasing your reps.

Again, the purpose of this is to conserve your energy so that you can get the most out of your working sets (gains!), increase joint mobility and reduce your risk of injury. What I’d recommend is doing something like the example below.

WARM UP TO WORKING SETS EXAMPLE

Prescribed (Reps x Sets x Weight): 5 x 5 x 315lbs

Warm Up Example (1 set each – Weight x Reps): 95×8, 135×6, 225×3, 275×2, start working sets

Tips: The goal is to make decent jumps in weight as well while reducing the number of sets the closer you get to the working weight.  

If you’re working with an injury, you’ll want to do more or fewer sets depending on the injury and I always recommend consulting with your coach if you have or suspect you have an injury.

These warm up exercises work great for everyone from athletes to people who are just wanting to stay healthy, and look and feel good.

Enjoy!


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