The Importance of a Proper Weight Lifting Warm-Up

Large barbell

One of the most costly mistakes that I see in the gym week in and week out is that the majority of lifters fail to recognize the importance of a proper warm-up.

Some lifters perform a wimpy, worthless warm-up that consists of 1 set of 20 reps using the weight of the bar, and others neglect the warm-up process altogether.

There are two main reasons why a proper warm-up will serve you well both in the short and long term…

1) A proper warm-up will increase the amount of weight that you are able to lift during your actual workout, thereby maximizing muscle stimulation and growth.

2) A proper warm-up will greatly decrease your chances of injury.

Now I don’t know about you, but to me that looks like two perfectly good reasons to spend a simple 15-20 minutes before each workout properly warming up.

Don’t you agree?

Good, now let me explain what a proper warm-up should consist of…

The first component of a proper warm-up consists of 5 minutes of light cardiovascular activity. You can choose any basic piece of cardio equipment to perform this such as a recumbent bike, rowing machine or treadmill.

This basic cardio warm-up will increase your body’s core temperature, stimulate your heart and lungs and will also lubricate your joints by increasing the secretion of synovial fluid.

As you perform this 5 minute cardio warm-up, envision the workout that you will soon be performing. Focus on mentally preparing yourself for the battle that lies ahead and accept that you will soon be putting forth a maximal effort.

It’s crucial that you prepare both your mind and body for your workouts, since your mental attitude plays such a vital role in your success.

Once your 5 minutes is up, you can move into the next and final component of the warm-up process. In this section you will be performing 5 warm-up sets using the first major compound exercise of your workout.

For example, if you were training legs and squats were your main exercise, then you would perform 5 warmup sets for squats. The goal here is to start by using a very light weight with high repetitions and gradually increase the resistance while lowering the repetitions.

However, the most crucial aspect of these 5 warm-up sets is this:


Remember, this is merely a warm-up that is designed to increase blood flow to the muscles and surrounding connective tissue. Its purpose is also to increase the amount of weight you will be able to lift on your muscle-building sets by preparing your mind and body for the heavy weights to come.

If you fatigue your muscles during these sets then you are completely destroying their entire purpose. Here is a basic formula you can follow when calculating how much weight to use and how many reps to perform on your warm-ups.

The percentage given is in relation to the weight that you will use for your muscle-building set. If you were planning on squatting 200 pounds, then the first set should be performed with 100 pounds for 10 reps as you can see below.

Set 1: 50% x 10 reps
Set 2: 60% x 6 reps
Set 3: 70% x 4 reps
Set 4: 80% x 3 reps
Set 5: 90% x 1 rep

Once you’ve completed these 5 basic sets you can move right into your actual workout.

Do not underestimate the importance of this warm-up process!

It will go a long way in keeping you injury free and in preparing your body for those grueling workouts. It only takes about 15-20 minutes to perform and the benefits will far outweigh the costs.

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