The 5 Step Warm-up For Strength Training
Warm-up? Who has time for that?
Everyone does. You make time for it.
When we’re short on time, skipping straight to the workout sounds like a great idea. But it’s not. In fact, I would argue that if short on time, keep the warm-up and decrease the main workout.
Because warm-ups serve a purpose.
3 purposes in fact:
- Enhance performance by increasing body temperature and blood flow to muscles. Thus, preparing the body for exercise and increasing the oxygen flow.
- Prevent injury through increasing range of motion and conscious training. Though research on people is slim, there has been research on animals. It that shows that injuring a warm muscle requires more force and muscle lengthening than muscles with no warm-up.
- Mentally prepare you for your workout. Get in the right mindset to dominate the workout you have. It takes time to get in the “zone” and the warm-up makes it happen.
Still not sold?
What if I told you that a structured warm-up can prevent minor injuries by 1/3 and major fitness induced injuries by a half?
And no, I didn’t make that up, check out the study here.
I’m going to guess that if you’re short on time, you’ll try to speed through your workout. Which of course, increases risk of injury even further.
Dipping your toes into a workout with the warm-up will help your mind to slow down and focus on the task at hand.
Recent research believes that dynamic stretching improves explosive moves like sprinting and jumping. While static stretching can actually hinder it.
But what about weight lifting?
The jury is still out on if static stretching is hurtful or helpful. But what we do know is that a proper warm-up does increase the range of motion and improves flexibility.
Inflexible muscles = increased risk of injury. Flexible muscles = healthy workouts.
With that, how do you warm-up? Safely.
Step By Step Guide For Strength Training Warm-Up
1. Foam Roll.
Grab a foam roller or massage ball and spend 30-45 seconds focusing on each of the major muscles of the body: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, IT band, and lats.
Why? Foam rolling helps to relax the connective tissue in the muscles that provide stability and support. Roll out knots, increase blood flow and help aid in muscle recovery.
It doesn’t take long, but it can make a hug difference.
2. Grab A PVC Pike
Sitting at a desk too long can create tension in the shoulders and chest. Overtime, your shoulders may roll forward and your lats (large muscles in your back) can become underworked. To help muscle embalances and increase range of motion, grab a PVC pipe.
Spend 2-3 minutes practicing ROM moves. Bring the arms up as high as possible, hold for a count of 5 seconds before bringing all the way down and repeating for a total of 5-8 times.
Complete a set of 10 overhead squats with the PVC to activate the lats, raise the chest and tune into proper form.
I use PVC training before all kettlebell and barbell workouts. It’s the step that allows me to mentally prep for a tough workout.
3. Body Weight Prep Moves
I am a big believer that to warm-up, you have to prepare your body for what you want to accomplish.
What does that mean? If you’re lifting weight, what’s the point of running on a treadmill for a mile except to sweat?
Instead, complete a few reps of moves that mimic what you want to do. Enough reps that causes the heart rate to increase and a slight sweat to begin to form.
- If you’re going to be deadlifting, do a set of walking lunges followed up with a set of lunge jumps.
- If you’re going to be bench presses, do a set of push-ups followed up with a set of burpees.
- If you’re going to be squatting, do a set of bodyweight squats followed up with squat jumps.
- If you’re going to be snatching, do a set of pike-pushups followed by light kettlebell swings.
These are dynamic moves that helps prepare the muscles and the joints for a heavier load.
And guess what? It doesn’t take long!
How many reps of each? 10-15 reps. That’s it. Doable, right?
4. The First Set Is Always Practice
Before grabbing your heavy kettlebell or loading your bar, complete a set of 10-12 light reps.
Why? To focus on your form and tell your body it’s go time. Even if we’ve done a move 1000 times, we all have those days where it doesn’t feel right.
Practicing before just going into it helps make sure those days are far and few in between.
5. Go Time!
You’re now warmed up and ready to rock. If you’re not, feel free to spend a few extra minutes bringing your heart rate up and getting muscles prepped with moves like high knees, kicks, arm circles, etc.
And feel free to make the warm-up reflective of you and your goals.
Oh, and promise me… you won’t skip this important workout step!?
The Girl Who Didn’t Warm-Up
Here’s a story about a girl. We will call her, “Saylor”. She was very intense with her workouts, focused on getting stronger and improving fitness.
Her workouts were awesome but her warm-ups sucked. There were no warm-ups.
For years she suffered from tightness in her back. Of course she used the excuse that 2 herniated disks were to blame but in the back of her mind she knew that wasn’t true.
She also suffered from gross squats. Like nasty. Ask her to do a body weight squat and it looked as if she was bowing down to a king during each rep.
Finally, she decided to give the warm-up method a try. What’s there to lose?
Well, how about pain? Pain disappeared and strength improved.
Focus on squat and ROM caused small improvements in her form. Lats became stronger, shoulders became more upright.
Oh, and between workouts? Recovery seemed to take place over night.
The lesson learned? Warm-ups aren’t for sissies. They are for people that want to improve and feel their best.
Workouts are supposed to make you feel BETTER. If you’re always in pain or feeling week, then something is going on that needs to be looked at.
First place to look? Does your workout contain all the important elements: warm-up, workout, cool-down? If not, start there.