Warming Up Yes! It Is Essential
By Leonard Rogalski
I know what you're thinking. Warming up is for sissies, and wimps. You wouldn't be caught dead on a treadmill or exercise bike. You're here for one reason-- to move big iron and get massive.
Well what if I told you that warming up could help you lift heavier, which in turn could help you get bigger if you are not over training, eating enough protein and getting enough rest. And I'm convinced it will help prevent injuries, provided you don't do something stupid after you warm up like trying to squat 300 when you can barely get ten reps with 100.
How will warming up help me lift heavier?
Lets take barbell curls for example. If you start off with your heaviest weight which let's say is 100 pounds. You, for one thing, will have to spend some of your energy just getting into the groove. I'm sure other people will have different opinions of what that means, but to me it means getting mentally into the lift and deciding what tempo I'm going to use. Am I going to do slower reps emphasizing the negative portion of the lift or am I going to do my reps a little more explosively. (Hint: All this should/could be decided during the warm up based on how strong you're feeling on that particular day or on how mentally you are into your training on that day.)
But if you start out with an empty bar and do say two sets of 10-20 reps and then move up from there in whatever increments you choose you may find that you are feeling strong on that day so you're going to try and do 102.5 pounds for 8 solid reps. You may only get 6, but that's how you build a big, strong body, by slowly, (I can't emphasize SLOWLY enough) increasing the weight and/or reps on the basic exercises.
How does warming up help to prevent injuries?
Ever see a glass blower? When the glass is hot they can bend and shape it into any design they want. Of course we all know what happens to glass when it cools.
Think of your body in the same way. When you lift weights without warming up your muscles and tendons are like cooled glass. However when you warm up before hitting the heavy stuff your muscles and tendons are like the hot glass. Now don't misunderstand me you can still get injured even if you warm up thoroughly, but are a lot less likely too.
Before I get started on the exercises that comprise the warm-up I would like to explain why you won't find any descriptions of how the exercises are supposed to be done. I've left them out for two reasons. One is because I think that most of the people reading this will have at least a couple of years (if not a lot more) of training under their belts and will already know how to do the exercises.
Secondly, if you are new to bodybuilding I would suggest you hire a competent personal trainer to teach you the basics. Please take your time, ask around, and find a good competent, trainer. Don't be fooled if they tell you they are certified, that doesn't mean they know what they are doing. The best thing you can do for yourself, in my opinion, is to learn how to do the exercises correctly in the beginning. This way you won't have to break an old habit and then learn a new one. Not to mention the fact that you will be a lot less likely to get hurt if you learn the proper way of performing the exercises in the beginning!
After years of working out this is the warm up routine I've found that works for me.
10-15 minutes of some sort of movement, my favorite is the treadmill. The idea here is to get your body to the point where it feels warm. You don't need to be sweating profusely.
Next we move dumbbell laterals. I do them standing, but you can do them seated on a bench. I do two sets, I don't count reps, I just go until I feel I've done enough. Do them slowly and in complete control. Two sets of 10-20 should be enough. Don't be afraid to go really light on these. I've hurt my shoulders a lot over the years, so I use one pound dumbbells.
I can hear a lot of you laughing, saying to yourself I'd never be caught dead using one pound dumbbells. Maybe, not now, but trust me if you ever hurt your shoulders they"ll be your best friends-in the gym that is. Remember you can never start too light, but you can always start too heavy.
Next up are shrugs. Yep you guessed it, it's two sets of shrugs, with the 1 pound dumbbells. Again I don't count reps, but two sets of 10-20 reps will probably be sufficient. Remember this is a warm up, so do them slow and in control.
From the shrugs we move to good mornings. I have an old hollow EZ curl bar that I use for these. Again it's two sets, this time shoot for 20 reps on both sets. Do them slow and don't bounce at the bottom.
Next we move on to the abs. I like two sets of swill ball crunches. If you train at home and don't have one, or your gym doesn't, do two sets of 20 reps of whatever you like--sit-ups (if they don't aggravate your lower-back), leg raises, etc.
That's the warm-up. As far as I'm concerned, your abs, shoulders, lower back, and traps, are involved in some degree in everything you do in the gym, so they need to be treated as such. Some of you might be shouting hey what about the hip/glute/leg area. Good point. But I feel that the 10-15 minutes of light jogging or walking or biking that starts this routine is sufficient enough to warm-up that area.
This is just a basic warm-up. If you feel two sets of an exercise isn't enough add another. Everyone is different. As I alluded to in the previous paragraph, for me that's enough warm-up for my lower body, but if it is not enough for you add two sets of bodyweight only squats to the routine.
Even though you went through the routine above,you should still start light and pyramid the weight up on any exercise. Just to give you an example even though they are relatively warm, I still start my dumbbell shoulder presses with the one pound dumbbells and move up from there.
Don't let your ego prevent you from warming-up. Once your hurt a part of your body, it never feels perfect again. So if you're not hurt, warm up so you'll stay that way! And if you are hurt give this routine a try. Don't be afraid to put your own individual spin on it. You won't regret it. Keep Training!
About The Author
Leonard Rogalski - I have been involved in the fitness industry for over 20 years.