WARM UP: What should I do?

A warm-up serves to get you ready for the work you’re about to do. You’ll be able to lift more and it reduces your chances of injury. Regardless of the routine, you’ll want to do the minimum that you can to get warm and ready for the top set, without tiring yourself for your main work sets.

  1. A few minutes of foam rolling to loosen up tight places.
  2. A few minutes on the treadmill to raise your body temperature if it’s still low.
  3. Then a few practice sets of the exercise you’re about to perform to get the mind-muscle connection going.

Always start with the bar. Perform the warm-up reps as you would your heaviest set. Take it very seriously, you’re preparing your nervous system and motor function for the big set.

Beginner example:  (Bar x 5), (50% x 5), (75% x 5), 3 minutes rest then start your main working sets. – A beginner will be lifting a fairly light weight, so less warm up sets are necessary.

Intermediate example: (40% x5), (60% x5), (70% x 3), 80% x2, 3 minutes rest then start your main working sets.

I usually do 3-4 warm-up sets, but do as many as it takes to feel comfortable. On cold days or days I feel a little stiffer then others then it may be more.

Remember: You want to be warmed-up, but not tired.

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8 Comments on “WARM UP: What should I do?”

  1. Hi Andy, I have a question. During the warm ups, how many minutes do you rest between each warm up set or do you not rest at all? So for example if I am squatting 300 lbs I will warm up first with 40% 5 reps and then before proceeding to 60% 5 reps do I take a short rest or just continue? Thanks you for taking the time to answer this question.

    1. Khaled, thanks for the question. The time to add some plates and then reposition generally. Around a minute. Remember, the key is to get to your top sets warm and ready, but not too tired to perform them. As long as that’s the case then you’re free to do it however you wish.

  2. so if im squatting 235 for working sets, i’m supposed to take 40% of that which is 140×5 ? so on and so fourth?

    1. Hi Kyle, thanks for the question.
      Key point: Squat the amount you need to do, to be warmed up enough to lift your best, without being too tired to do so.
      If you’re stuck for what that might be, then follow the guidelines above until you get to know your body well enough to auto-regulate it. Make sense?

  3. There’s a really good iPhone application written by one of the SS-associated guys that will calculate out your warm up weights and give you your set and rep numbers. Basically, it takes your work set number and divides it up evenly between it and bar weight.

    1. JFF, first and foremost I appreciate the comment. If I may, I’d like to point out a couple of reasons I’m not a fan of the idea:
      1. Phones in the gym wreck concentration, as they inevitably leads to distractions, despite initial good intentions. More concentration on the task at hand will lead to better results.
      2. It creates dependence on an app. instead of encouraging us to feel out what we need at the time. – Sometimes you need to do more warm-up work than other times.

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