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But First, Let’s Warm Up!

The Importance of Warming Up & How To Go About Doing So.

Posted by nboleto - June 13th, 2014

Whether you’re brand new to weightlifting and unsure if you can even lift the bar, well on your way to a 600 pound deadlift like Scott is, or doing virtually anything that puts strain on your body, it’s very important to warm up.

As somebody who suffered a career ending injury, I wish somebody had really emphasized this to me earlier, but now I’ve learned my lesson and it’s no joke.

My basketball coach always used to tell us during pregame layup drills that we should be sweating hard by the time the game started. That didn’t stop us from dawdling during warm-ups but the few games that we took them seriously, we always got off to a fast start.

Now why is that? Your body’s infrastructure is a combination of a bunch of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscle, and nerves, along with a big tube for digestion and some chambers for circulation and respiration. Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones to other bones. Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones.

If you want more explanation on muscles and muscle fiber types, check out Muscle Fiber Types & The Four Energy Systems!

Now, with inactivity, these fibrous tissues become “dry” and taut. Upon exercise, the body warms up and all of your joints (comprised of ligaments and tendons) become lubricated. Your muscles relax and your body runs like a newly oiled machine, but if you try to run the machine without oiling the grooves, it’s sure to fall apart. That’s exactly how injuries happen.

Just yesterday a guy on my baseball team was telling me that he went to go deadlift a weight that he can get for 5 reps and he strained his latissimus dorsi, but he did so without any warm up. This could have been easily avoided had he warmed up first, but how should one go about warming up?

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The first thing on everybody’s mind is most likely stretching, but people go about doing it the wrong way. Most people go to reach down and touch their toes or pull their arms across their bodies to stretch out. This way of stagnant stretching could potentially be MORE harmful than not warming up at all. Instead, you should do dynamic stretching or stretching while moving.

For your lower body, try monster walks, butt kicks, high knees, walking on your toes, walking on your calves, bodyweight lunges, or bodyweight squats. For your upper body, try arm circles forwards and backwards, love me/hate me, hello/goodbye, wall slides, neck rotations, trunk rotations, and rolling your hands to warm up your wrists.

After doing these general warm ups, you want to get into more specific exercises. For instance, if you’re doing a classic “push day” comprised of chest, shoulders, and triceps, warm-up with some rotator cuff work with a 5 pound plate or bands, some light tricep pushdowns, and some push-ups. Not only does this get your body ready, but it gives you time to get your MIND ready for the workout at hand.

If you’re like Scott, you probably start your workout with a heavy compound movement. For heavy compound movements, it’s important to work up in weight to your working sets. Typically you should do 2 - 3 warm-up sets of anywhere from 1 - 15 reps depending on your goals. These “movement specific” warm-ups are perhaps the most important for your body, but they also help develop the correct motor engram to ensure proper form, another way to prevent injuries.

Depending on how serious of an athlete you are, you might not have to do all of these things, but experienced lifters will tell you that they spend close to half an hour in the gym before even starting their workout. Warm-up, use proper form, and train harder, my fellow Hermanites!




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MEMBER COMMENTS
Jarmando
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The problem I have is that I get to the gym ready to workout but doing warm up stretches and warm up workouts it gets me bored

Scott_Herman Edit Delete Close

well.... avoiding injuries is not boring.  But being home stuck with one is!  Remember that! :-D

Jarmando Edit Delete Close

I'm having trouble finding the calendar for the workout routines 

Scott_Herman Edit Delete Close

Go to your profile and then go to the CONTEST TAB... they are right there :-D

jcgadfly
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This is a lesson I'm slowly trying to learn (way too stubborn for my own good sometimes) Just been lucky that I haven't been badly injured . It's also hard fo rme to find the extra time. I generally only have an hour in the gym in the morning before I go to work and I want to get as much done as I can. I don't know if I can do that if I'm burning half of that time in warmups  I'm starting to shortchange my sleep as it is. Any suggestions?

Scott_Herman Edit Delete Close

Don't worry, we all have this issue.  Unfortunitely most of us don't learn our lesson until it is too late!  Make the time brotha!

jcgadfly Edit Delete Close

I was reading the article and it mentioned two or three. I just exaggerated a little. If I'm fortunate, I get time for some stretches and maybe one light set before the fun begins.

crood
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agreed. good write. Unfortunately most just learn this, when it's too late or when they injured themselves for once.

 

When i was playing for several years in a female icehockey team we did spend excessive amounts of time on warmups. The male teams that have been training in the same stadion, mostly skipped warmups or were just kidding around in that time - and i am sure as heck that this was one of the main reasons why these guys had 3 times more injuries than we did. And not just because they were batting each other harder, as they always tried to make us believe ;)Same in the Gym, i see only one or two of the "really big guys" actually doing warmups in a serious way.

 

Guys with a more athletic figure or sportsmen seem to have a better mindset there, those you see do warmupsets, stretching and whatnot.

 

Always wondered if it's lazyness, being uneducated, or simply silly manly pride - not wanting to look weak or sissy like.

 

I personally think, it's way more impressive if you see someone train who is doing every part of it with dedication, instead of just rushing in and ripping around some weights in a rather bad form, and then running out again.

Scott_Herman Edit Delete Close

yeah, most dudes think that warm-ups are for "weaklings"... oh the lessons we have learned!

CarlosNevalainen
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its very important to warm up , I always do it ! and rotate shoulders, wrists, knees etc ! also important doing stretches at the end of the workout ! must people dont do it and they should in my opinion ! great post as usual ;)

giannifanizzi
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Great read, as a footballer (soccer) it is very important to get stretched out and active, i have seen many footballers get injured very early in the match or cramp up during the match because they did not take it very seriously. Not only is it important for lifting, but also for sports. I wish no injury upon any footballer nor lifter!

jmboiardi
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Great article Nick. This, I believe, was a contributing factor to my bicep tear 7 months ago from deadlifting. I went up too high too fast as my first exercise of the day. I should have warmed up more with lower weights.

Adawg38 Edit Delete Close

I have never lifted once without a warm up and stretching after, something my dad has taught me and it's become habit. This is a great read and I may pass it along. I have seen and worked out with a few people who warm up but don't always stretch or just do neither and they are always getting injuries.

 

rayyan454 Edit Delete Close

dynamic stretch is very good to prepar your body but i've saw some guys jogging before workout without do some dynamic stretch does that right ?

 

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