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Old 02-05-2012, 09:18 PM   #1
deadliftsmith
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Default Warm up sets; Too many people don't use them

The Art of Warming Up

If there is one thing that people really botch in the gym, the warm up is it! I commonly see a guy walk up to the squat rack and do his first set with 135 no less than a couple of minutes after he just walked in the door. Then he proceeds to hit a second set of 225 as a working set, which usually isn't pretty. He'll follow that up with whatever his day calls for and he's done. ONE WARM UP SET.......

The purpose of the warm up is to prime the body for your working sets. It is not to pre-exhaust the muscles to be used. I repeat, the purpose of the warm up is to prime the body for your working sets.

The first rule of warming up for a squat, deadlift, bench press, or any barbell movement is to start with the barbell.....just the barbell. Grab an empty barbell and complete a set of 10 reps to alert your body about which movement it is about to perform. There is a reason why the second set of an exercise or movement is always easier to execute. The first set makes the body aware of the movement being done......or primes the body. Once the body knows what to expect for the second set, you're better off and the set will feel smoother than the first.

Once the body is made aware of the task at hand, it is time to start adding weight to the movement. Now, adding weight to the bar is somewhat complicated. However, I believe that using a set of rough guidelines is appropriate.

I like to add 15-20% of your target weight to the bar with each new warm up set. Lets use a target weight of 315lbs for our example. This will give us a weight increase of roughly 50lbs per warm up set.

Your weight scheme will look like this:

WU Set 1: 45lbs by 10 reps

WU Set 2: 95lbs by 5 reps

WU Set 3: 145 by 3 reps

WU Set 4: 195 by 1-2 reps

WU Set 5: 245 by 1-2 reps

WU Set 6: 295 by 1 rep

Many of you are probably thinking that is a TON of warm up sets, especially anyone who doesn't warm up at all! Well, do you want to do things right, or do you want to do things wrong? If you do it right you'll be stronger and safer.

In reality, that warm up scheme should take 5-10 minutes. Each set should take 10-30 seconds due to the low rep numbers. Remember, you are simply priming the body with your warm up sets. High reps are not needed! It doesn't take many reps for the body to realize that it needs to gear up and get ready. Low rep warm up sets will work.

I'm going to layout another example; a target weight of 225lbs. This will give us a weight increase of roughly 35lbs per warm up set.

Your weight scheme will look like this:

WU Set 1: 45lbs by 10 reps

WU Set 2: 80lbs by 5 reps

WU Set 3: 115 by 3 reps

WU Set 4: 150 by 1-2 reps

WU Set 5: 185 by 1-2 reps

WU Set 6: 220 by 1 rep

The total volume is kept low, while the body is primed well for the working sets. This is the key to a proper warm up. Prime the body with as little muscle fatigue as possible.

Here is another example; a target weight of 135lbs. This will give us a weight increase of roughly 20lbs per warm up set.

Your weight scheme will look like this:

WU Set 1: 45lbs by 10 reps

WU Set 2: 70lbs by 3 reps

WU Set 3: 95 by 1-2 reps

WU Set 4: 120 by 1 rep

You notice that the amount of warm up sets drops, which is just fine. 135lbs is not a weight that requires as much of a warm up as a set of 315 pounds. The higher the working set weight, the more warm up sets you'll be performing.

Make sure to burn these points into your brain:

The purpose of the warm up is to prime the body for your working sets. It is not to pre-exhaust the muscles to be used. I repeat, the purpose of the warm up is to prime the body for your working sets.

The total volume is kept low, while the body is primed well for the working sets. This is the key to a proper warm up. Prime the body with as little muscle fatigue as possible.

I've seen strength shoot up in many clients after I adjusted their warm up rituals. Some warm up too much, some warm up too little. Either way, their strength improves once the warm up is improved.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan Miller
Creator/Author: Growth Stimulus Training
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:58 PM   #2
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Nice post & I agree that people just don't warm up adequately. There's a couple of kids that I see come in the gym every week....cant weigh anymore than 160lbs. They throw 135 on the bench every session as a warm up & then top out at maybe 195 which is usually performed as two-man exercise...lol. I love the other guys who bench a little more & feel they need to start off with 225 for their warm-up.

I've worked with several trainers that have all had their own protocols for warming up. Currently I'm enjoying what Darkhorse has prescribed for me. Circuit style warm-up consisting of starting with an empty bar on the main lift/another light exercise/speed rope. Each set weight is added to the bar but as you mention, nothing that will pre-exhaust you, just prime you for the heavier weight.

In the future I'll likely stick to this circuit style as compared to just incrementally adding weight on the main movement. So far it has worked out excellent.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadliftsmith View Post
The first rule of warming up for a squat, deadlift, bench press, or any barbell movement is to start with the barbell.....just the barbell. Grab an empty barbell and complete a set of 10 reps to alert your body about which movement it is about to perform. There is a reason why the second set of an exercise or movement is always easier to execute. The first set makes the body aware of the movement being done......or primes the body. Once the body knows what to expect for the second set, you're better off and the set will feel smoother than the first.
I would always do this for my presses but never my squats. Once I started using just the bar for my first warm-up set, I found that my knees weren't as cranky after my workout. I also found that I was able to hit my target weight more often than not. Very good article.

--Brian
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:41 PM   #4
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I typically warm up prior to my working sets using about 50% x5 and 75% x5 for each lift since I am not at a very high working weight, but I feel like I'm not doing enough warm up sets. Im going to try using your article as a guideline on my warm ups tonight. Thanks for the great post.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:11 PM   #5
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My guys all go circuit style for their initial warm-ups and it's well worth it in the end (all reporting numerous PR's and all love them). It knocks out two birds with one stone. Hammers the conditioning and gets the sweat pouring (aka thoroughly warmed up). I tell me guys if it affects your first workset, we need to stick with it because your GPP sucks. Over time (we're talking no more than a handful of workouts), there's zero drop-off in strength and the PR's start happening in lieu of course with the rest of the protocol in the blocks.

I used to warm up the standard way described above (everyone should've) and nothing beats circuit style. One thing I feel is important though that you hit on is to always start with the empty bar. Most offenders that bench 250+ always start with 135 to save time and energy. Bad habits always end up being hard to break.

Good reminder DLS!
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:30 PM   #6
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DLS,

Would this be done after a bodyweight warm up? I found a copy of the Daily 16 from the USMC and use about 6- 8 moves out of there as a quick dynamic warm up before I get started with the lifting. Then I do the bar, 95, 135, etc. as the warm up sets.

I have noticed a lot less DOMS after I started doing a regular warm up and just a better overall feeling.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:03 PM   #7
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@Darkhorse, have you outlined the circuit warmup somewhere? I thought you had, but I can't find it.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:30 PM   #8
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Not specifics as to what I put my paying clients on, no. . That said, I don't have guidelines because it differs depending on each client, what their needs are, current GPP, strength levels, and so on. For some it could be a few trips through a body weighted circuit while others it may be something less intensive. Either way, when your shirt is wet, you're thoroughly warmed up... And I never got that way pyramiding up with a few warmup and acclimation sets. Not to say it doesn't work, just that I have a specific goal in mind by the way of increased conditioning, injury prevention, ect.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leveraged_buyout View Post
DLS,

Would this be done after a bodyweight warm up? I found a copy of the Daily 16 from the USMC and use about 6- 8 moves out of there as a quick dynamic warm up before I get started with the lifting. Then I do the bar, 95, 135, etc. as the warm up sets.

I have noticed a lot less DOMS after I started doing a regular warm up and just a better overall feeling.
Yes, this is a movement specific warm up. A light bodyweight warmup doesn't all of the sudden make it OK to jump right into your working set weight on your first exercise of the day.
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
Not specifics as to what I put my paying clients on, no. . That said, I don't have guidelines because it differs depending on each client, what their needs are, current GPP, strength levels, and so on. For some it could be a few trips through a body weighted circuit while others it may be something less intensive. Either way, when your shirt is wet, you're thoroughly warmed up... And I never got that way pyramiding up with a few warmup and acclimation sets. Not to say it doesn't work, just that I have a specific goal in mind by the way of increased conditioning, injury prevention, ect.
Haha...I sweat when I bowl, so if I added jumping rope to my warmups, they'd take about 60 seconds total.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:34 PM   #11
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Oh yeah, I'd definitely work them in there if I were you. I'm not trying to sound mysterious or anything like that. All you have to do is picture utilizing the time you take off between pressing the bar x 20, 95 x 15, and so on. Use that wisely and it could serve multiple purposes. I'm at the point to where I can do sets of 10 pull-ups and 100 contacts HIIT style with the rope starting with the empty bar on up through 350.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amanda143 View Post
Push ups and chin bar from the very start of doing workout or exercise is best because these warm up your body level and away from fracture and bone harm to crack. Light running like jogging is also best way to warm up your body.
Best in a 'non-specific' sort of way.......which isn't ideal.
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