It always concerns me when people say they don’t warm up. Anyone who has ever lifted a significant amount of weight will know the absolute importance of warming up correctly. Not just for injury prevention but it’s one hell of a shock to the system to pick up a heavy weight completely cold. Sometimes picking up a 20kg plate feels like 400kg. Now imagine doing that with 10x the weight without giving your body prior warning.
It seems many people treat warming up as a trivial chore they need to get done with as quickly as possible.
Warming up is about preparing your body for what you are about to do. It isn’t about focusing on getting the blood flowing, body temperature up or loosening muscles. That happens anyway. Any form of movement will do that.
It is about preparing your body and mind for what you are about to do. It’s about getting the movement right. It’s about getting the feeling of weight through your body.
If you are going to squat, warm up by squatting. If you are going to db curl, warm up by curling.
Common sense. Or so I thought.
I was sitting with a client yesterday looking over his numbers. His second set of squats was consistently better than his first set. I said that means something is going wrong in the first set. If the first set is pushing to absolute failure, he doesn’t increase the weight and then do more reps on the second set. It just doesn’t happen. Either he started squatting shorter, in which case the reps shouldn’t be counted or he was a pussy and quit well before failure on the first set.
He said that he felt more warmed up on the second set and was able to push more.
I said if that’s the case he needs to spend more time warming up. I asked how he was warming up?
He said he does 3 sets of chin-ups and 3 sets of db flyes.
I asked how that is going to warm him up for squatting?
He said it gets his heart rate up.
I said yeah but how does doing a chin up prepare you for a squat set?
I then asked how does he prepare for his first set of squats?
He said he just puts his first work set weight on and attempts the set.
I said so he does 3 sets of chin ups, 3 sets of flyes and then goes straight into a work set of squats?
I asked how does it feel when he puts a bar on his shoulders and tries to squat?
He said it feels really heavy and it takes a few sets to get used to it.
I said thats what warm up sets are for!
As I wrote in the first sentence : warming up is about preparing your body for what you are about to do.
Doing an activity like riding a stationary bike or running on a treadmill as a means of warming up for weight training isn’t warming up. It’s wasting energy.
Warm up for your movement by doing the movement. Start with the lightest weight possible and gradually increase it leading up to your work weight, while dropping the amount of reps each warm up set.
The idea is to get as close to your work weight as possible without taking away from your energy to do the work set to the best of your ability. How you choose to increase the weight is a personal preference.
I need lots of warm up sets with gradual increases in weight. I know the amount of warms up I do is far to many for some who prefer to make bigger jumps in weight and do fewer sets. Do what ever works for you.
The point of warming up is to prepare you for what you are about to do.
If you aren’t doing it, don’t warm up with it.