On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the best tips to warm up before lifting weights, as well as comparing static stretching vs dynamic stretching.
This was a request from a viewer who asked the following questions about warm ups:
Like most things in fitness, the best warm up before lifting weights is a much debated topic.
However, just like most things, I only recommend what I’ve already incorporated into my own warm up routine, and those of my client success stories.
Plus, I have never had a serious injury during my entire 15 years of lifting weights.
A warm up is to a workout, like foreplay is to having sex and making love.
So yes, a warm up before lifting weights is a very important aspect to a safe and effective workout routine.
But what type of foreplay, I mean warm up, should you be doing?
Today, I’m going to share a safe and effective way to warm up the joints, muscles, and heart, as well as getting your mind focused before your workout.
Yes, a focused mind is very important, as it’s hard to have a safe and killer workout, when your mind is elsewhere.
You do not want to go into the gym and begin lifting heavy weight with cold muscles.
Besides poor lifting form, this is one of the easiest ways to injure yourself in the gym.
Just like a car engine needs oil, your body needs a lubricant around the joints.
A warm up, consisting of lighter weights, with higher reps, that mimics the movement of the upcoming exercise, will help with this.
For example, if you’re completing a leg workout, you will want to increase the synovial fluid in the knee joint.
This also helps warm up the joints, so you can properly complete the exercises with a full range of motion.
It’s important to get the blood flowing to your muscles, by elevating your heart rate before you begin lifting heavier weights.
Again, by using lighter weight and higher reps during your warm up set, you’ll be sending blood to the working muscles.
A lot of people forget this important piece of the warm up.
We all know how life can be.
Your boss may be yelling at you or your significant other may be mad at you.
If these things are on your mind when you’re lifting heavy weight, you could easily injure yourself.
When in the gym, your mind needs to be focused on using proper form, and taking the weight through a full range of motion.
A proper warm up will allow you to get your mind to where it needs to be.
So those are the 4 reasons to warm up before lifting weights.
Now the next questions is, what’s better to warm up: static stretching vs. dynamic stretching?
If you’re not familiar with the term, static stretching, it’s the conventional type of stretching where you hold a stretch for a set period of time, for example 30 seconds.
An example of a static stretch would be the couch stretch for the hip flexors.
I don’t usually recommend a lot of static stretching before your workout.
When the muscle and joint is cold, holding a static stretch, for an extended period of time, can lead to potential injury.
Static stretching should be completed after your workout.
For your warm up before lifting weights, focus on a quick cardio warm up, foam rolling, dynamic stretching, or use very light weight for 20 reps, without going to failure, for each muscle group you’re targeting.
Static stretching is better to do after your workout, when your muscles are already warmed up, and are tight.
This is the time when static stretching can help loosen up your muscles after your workout.
I usually always include a quick cardio warm up, foam rolling, dynamic stretches, and mobility exercises in my warm up before lifting weights.
The best way to warm up before lifting weights is via dynamic stretching.
Besides a dynamic warm up, you can also include warm up sets before your main working sets.
Here’s how that would work.
When you’re thinking about your warm up before lifting weights, the warm up sets should be functional, and mimic the movements of the exercises that you’ll be completing in your workout routine.
This is very important as it will prep your body to be ready for the heavy weight during your working sets.
Note: the goal of the warm up set is NOT to go to failure. If 20 reps is too high, either lower the weight, or lower the reps of the warm up exercise.
Click here to see our Instagram video of all of these warm up options,
This essentially covers all 4 reasons why you should warm up before lifting weights.
A combination of foam rolling, dynamic stretching, and mobility work should take approximately 5-10 minutes.
Also, in addition to the warm up set before your first working set of your first exercise, if you’re still feeling cold, complete a second warm up set.
Simply add a little more weight, approximately 60% of your first working set, and lower the reps to 15.
It’s not necessary to do a warm up set for every exercise in your workout, if you’re targeting the same muscle group.
However, you can if you want to get a better feel for the exercise.
If you’re training multiple body parts within one workout, it helps to add in a warm up set before moving on to a new muscle group.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.