You know you should warm-up right? You’ve heard it a thousand times before. You need to warm up so you don’t injure yourself but what if there was another reason that was also sensible but also a ton more fun?
Warming up makes you stronger. Significantly stronger.
Now I can’t remember the last time I had a client on a treadmill warming up to do front squats. In fact, it probably hasn’t happened since I got my certifications out of the way and got down to the good stuff.
So, what does a strength warm-up look like and how do you do it?
Warming-up For Strength
When you warm yourself up, you’re doing a few things that improve your performance.
- You’re raising your body temperature
- You’re encouraging flexibility in your muscles
- You’re performing specific movements to prepare you for your training
Raising Your Body Temperature
You can raise your body temperature in a hundred different ways, so it really doesn’t matter what you do to fulfil this requirement as long as it gets the blood pumping and your temperature to rise a bit. I’d suggest keeping your tracksuit top on, warm is good. When warm your muscles contract more quickly and with more force. A warm muscle is significantly stronger and a cold muscle is significantly weaker so get warm before you go heavy.
Dynamic stretching beats static stretching when you’re preparing to train. It’s also active so it raises your body temperature in a way that static stretching does not. You can take a look at this quick video I put together for a UHP member last week which is a routine for preparing for lower body lifts like squats and deadlifts.
You don’t want your muscles stretched and relaxed when you go in to train, you want them flexible but awake and active. You’re not forcing your body into a position and holding it there, you’re moving your body through a good range of motion with your muscles with just a little assistance with each stretch. A good dynamic stretching routine will make every lift feel easier and more coordinated. Try it for yourself.
Your nervous system requires a bit of waking up before you jump into heavy weights. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t finish a five-mile run then jump straight in at 200kg for a deadlift. You’d be warm but would you be ready?
The reason we do warm up sets before going in for heavy lifts is because it prepares us. When you warm up with the same movement that you’re training, you make refinements with each set and when you get to the heavier weights you have a good idea of how you feel and how they’ll feel. Most importantly, you’ll be physically prepared.
Don’t Forget to Warm Up
Whatever you do, don’t forget to warm up! If you don’t then you’re not just increasing your risk of injury, you’re leaving gains on the table and we can’t have that now can we?