A Science-Backed Weightlifting Warmup

meIt’s the day of the lift and you’re absolutely ready to go. The energy levels are on point, the body feels great, the mindset is in a state of growth and looking to take on all challenges. You arrive at the gym, fill your water and arrive at your training area. You know that a weightlifting warm-up is key to performance and reducing risk of injury, so you’ve already allocated some time to develop your actual working sets. BUT what is the best way to safely and effectively warm up for strength training?

When it comes to working on your cardio or for movement-based activities like running or sports, the game plan is easier. The warm-up can consist of dynamic stretching, mobilizations, muscle activations, and then simply doing any cardio or sports exercise at a lower intensity for a set period of time. However, for strength training, there are more variables and therefore questions.

Some common ones that come to mind: How should I warm up for my lifts? Should I do some band work? If so, what level of resistance and at what intensity? If it’s weights, should I warm up doing the specific lifts I’m going to do? Should I do them all at once or immediately before each specific lift? How much weight and how many reps should I lift before my first work set?

“The biggest mistake people make with warm-ups is exhausting themselves before they even get to their work set.” —Gerry DeFilippo, strength and sports performance coach

These are perfectly valid things to wonder about, and frankly, the science isn’t very clear on this. However, there is emerging research and evidence that is leading us toward the answer of which is the most effective weightlifting warmup.

What the science says about weightlifting warm-up routines

In general, research has found that a dynamic warm-up involving active movements that result in both muscle contractions and joint movement (e.g., air squats, walking lunges, upper body band work) is most effective than a static stretching warm-up for higher intensity movements. .

Furthermore, within that category of dynamic warm-ups, there is strong evidence showing that higher-load dynamic warm-ups improve and optimize power and strength performance in both upper body and lower body (for example, jump squats).

A recent study took that even further and looked specifically at different warm-up methods for two main basic lifts: the bench press and the squat. The study investigated three specific warm-ups: 2 warm-up sets of 6 repetitions at 40% and 80% of training load, 1 warm-up set of 6 repetitions at 80% of training load, and 1 warm-up set of 6 repetitions at 40 percent of the training load.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three and then completed the work set of 3 sets of 6 repetitions of the squat and bench press at the training load. They found that for the bench press, the first warm-up (2 sets of 6 repetitions at 40 percent and 80 percent of the training load) was most effective, while for the squat, the second warm-up (6 repetitions at 80 percent of training load). training load) was more effective. The third warm-up method (six repetitions at 40 percent) was not enough to optimize performance on any of the lifts.

Obviously, this is just one study, but in combination with the other research, a lifting warm-up that progressively approaches the training load, but does not eliminate it, is key. “The goal of a strength warm-up should be to acclimate your body to higher loads so it’s ready for your set working weight,” says Gerry DeFilippo, strength and sports performance coach who owns Challenger Strength in Wayne, New Jersey. . “The biggest mistake people make with warm-ups is exhausting themselves before they even get to their work set.”

An example of a weightlifting warm-up

The easiest way to apply these research findings to your heating approach is through percentages. For example, if the working set is 45 pounds, then it roughly becomes:

  • 10 pounds x 5 (15 percent of the working set)
  • 20 pounds x 3 (45 percent of working set)
  • 30 pounds x 2 (70 percent of working set)
  • 35 lbs x 1 (75 percent of working set)
  • 40lbs x 1 (90 percent of working set)

If your work set includes more than one target set, say 3 sets of 8 reps, I would recommend 45%, 70%, and 75% warmups as a healthy medium.

Last but not least, DeFilippo encourages a long recovery between the final warm-up set and the work set. For example, if you’re working on building maximal strength with heavy lifts, he recommended six minutes, but that may be too much for lower weights.

A Beginner’s Strategy for Weightlifting Warm-up Exercises

If you like to be detailed with your lifting approach and consider yourself in the intermediate or more advanced strength training group, numbers and a methodical approach may be quite appealing to you. Excellent! However, it’s not for everyone, especially if you’re new to weightlifting.

In that case, don’t let this article scare you and don’t feel like you need to overcomplicate things (which is an easy way to break new habits). For those who fall into this group, simply warm up to your specific lift immediately beforehand with two progressively heavier weights for 4-6 reps each.

The goal of this approach is to feel ready for your actual sets and not feel like a huge jump in weight and intensity without feeling burned out. Also, everyone’s mind and body are different, so feel free to experiment and see what works best for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.