So, you’ve just got into the gym and ready for your weights workout, but before you can begin you need to warm-up. Well simple, you just do 10 reps with the bar then stick a plate on each side, perform another 10 reps and hey presto your ready for your workout. Wrong! If you have been warming up in such a way you have been doing it wrong.
The following page explains how to warm-up correctly without expending too much energy and causing injury to yourself, so that you can workout as efficiently as possible.
How to Warm-up for a Weight Lifting Session
Let’s say you start your first exercise, which in this example will be the barbell bench press. Let’s assume you bench 200lbs for 8-10 repetitions of 3 sets. So, here is how you should warm-up ready for your working set:
Warm-up set 1: 12 reps with 25% of the weight you lift during the exercise.
Warm-up set 2: 8 reps with 50% of the weight you lift during the exercise.
Warm-up set 3: 5 reps with 75% of the weight you lift during the exercise.
Warm-up set 4: 3 reps with 85% of the weight you lift during the exercise.
Warm-up set 5: 1 reps with 95% of the weight you lift during the exercise.
You should aim for 30 seconds rest between warm-up sets, once you have completed the 5 warm-up sets you can begin your first working set with your normal weight.
Why should you warm-up in such a way?
You may be thinking to yourself this seems like a strange way to warm-up before you begin your working set, but trust me it’s the best way to do it. By warming up in such a way your muscles, joints, nervous system and mentality are ready to begin the exercise.
When we exercise we have to think of joints as well as muscles, because joints need lubricating, and this only happens after we warm-up by gradually increasing the weight. By jumping into an exercise without warming up (or by warming up incorrectly) can cause temporary injury to the joints.
Common Warm-up Mistakes
Mistake 1, Low rep warm-up: bang out 10 reps with the bar and then 10 with the weight, or near to the weight you lift with and you’re ready to go, right? Wrong! Doing this will put far too much shock on your nervous system, joints and muscles.
Mistake 2, High rep warm-up: Start with a light to medium weight and bang out 20 reps to really give you a pump, now you’re ready to go right? Wrong! Doing this will fill your muscles full of blood and lactic acid, which means you will burn out quicker during your working set and not reach your full lifting potential.
Mistake 3: Warming up with cardio: So you enter the gym and want to get the blood pumping, so you jump on a treadmill for 5-10 minutes and go for a nice jog, now you’re ready to pump iron, right? Wrong! I have nothing against cardio and recommend you do some form of cardio on a weekly basis, but don’t do it before a weight lifting workout. By performing cardio before a weight lifting workout will waste your energy (glycogen), energy which you will later need during your workout. Warm-up the correct way, by performing workout sets for the exercise in hand.
Mistake 4, Stretch before lifting the weight: You start stretching those pecs before performing bench press, after a minute of stretching you are ready to bench, right? Wrong! Stretching is important, but it’s important after your workout. Stretching before an exercise actually weakens the muscle temporarily and can increase risk of injury to the muscle. So make sure you stretch at the end of your workouts.