If you aren’t performing a proper warmup before every single workout, you’re putting yourself at serious risk of injury, and may not be getting the most out of your workouts.
One of the biggest blunders I see every single time I’m in the gym is lifters neglecting a proper warmup before their weight training workouts.
Some people consider one measly set of 20 reps of their first exercise a warmup, while others don’t even perform a warmup at all.
Skimping out on your warmup, no matter what your fitness goals are, is a huge mistake!
Warming up before your weight training workouts serves the following two purposes:
- To allow you to lift more weight during your workout, which will ultimately maximize the number of muscle fibers you are breaking down.
- To decrease your risk of injury.
Now in my eyes, those reasons seem convincing enough to include a simple 15 minute warmup prior to each workout, and I’m sure you agree!
How to Warmup Before A Weight Training Workout
There are two components of the ideal warmup.
The first component is the cardiovascular warmup, and the second component is the resistance training component.
Now let’s take a closer look at each of them..
The first component of your warmup will consist of about 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise.
Cardiovascular Warmup Remember, you’re not training to become a sprinter, so don’t go too hard here!
The cardiovascular component of your warmup serves the following purposes:
- Helps lubricate the joints.
- Increases core body temperature.
- Increase heart rate.
The mode of cardiovascular activity you choose is completely up to you.
The exercise bike, treadmill, rowing machine or a jog will all suffice.
During your light cardio warmup, try to mentally prepare yourself for the high intensity workout that lies ahead.
Preparing both your body and mind is extremely important, and is the only way to get the most out of each and every weight training workout.
Once you complete your cardio warmup, it’s time to move to the resistance component of the full body warmup.
Resistance Training Warmup
This componenet of your full body warmup will consist of 5 warmup sets of the first compound exercise in your weight training program.
For example, if you were training your chest muscles at the beginning of your program, and your first exercise was the barbell bench press, then you would perform 5 sets of that exercise.
The goal of the resistance warmup is to begin with a very light weight with higher repetitions, and gradually increase the weight while lowering the resistance.
Important: Use a light weight and do not tax your muscles during these five warmup sets!
Remember, the main goal here is not to fatigue the muscles, it’s to increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare the central nervous system for a heavier weight.
If you lift a weight that is too heavy and fatigue your muscles at this time, then you are destroying the purpose of this part of the warmup.
So now you’re probably wondering: “How much weight should I lift during a warmup set?”
Below is a simple formula you can use to help you determine how much weight to use and how many repetitions to perform during your 5 warmup sets.
Note that the percentage figure given is in relation to the actual weight you will use during your first actual set.
So if your were going to start the bench press using 150 pounds for your first real set, then the first warmup set should be about 50% of that weight (75lbs).
Once you have finished all five of these warmup sets, your muscles should be good to go and you can begin with your first real set.
Your warmup is extremely important, and should never be underestimated!
Warming up every workout will drastically reduce your risk of injury, and will help you lift more weight, maximizing the potential of your workout.
It only takes about 15 minutes to perform, and the benefits will far outweigh the costs.