They say that warming up is something that we should do… but more often what we can see at the gym are people randomly performing arm swings for the whole 2 minutes and then immediately going to bench press, starting at least at 135lbs and moving immediately up to heavier weights.
In any case, I believe that properly constructed warm up routine which covers both upper body and the lower body areas will help you “re-activate” the muscles which were not that active before you arrived at the gym – especially if you were sleeping for 8 hours, or sitting for few hours before you decided to get to the gym and start your workout.
Apart from that, warming up your body properly – especially your posterior chain – would help you a lot especially if your routine prioritizes compound movements (squats, deadlifts, presses).
Let’s See The Actual Routine First
Over the years I’ve tried out multiple ways of warming up, some of them focused on foam rollers, some of them on resistance bands, some of them were just 5 minutes – and I even tried several routines which were 25 minutes long! I admit that was probably not very smart, but as I described in my About page – I’m that type of guy who first likes to test out things practically, and then goes in-depth in the theoretical side of things.
Anyway, back to the topic… so as I mentioned since I tried lots of different warm-up routines, I’ve gotten a good practical and theoretical understanding of how they affect the compound movements and the overall workout as well.
The first thing which I’ve seen is that they “do” make minor form adjustments and help you implement coaching cues better – but more importantly, I believe that dynamic warm-ups are a great injury prevention tool which you should have in our lifting arsenal.
This is the routine which I’ve composed and which I’ve been doing it for the past year or so:
|Upper body||Lower body|
|Neck Circles x6||Leg Swings x12|
|Arm Circles x12||Fire Hydrants x10|
|Shoulder Circles x8||Hip Hinge x10|
|Cuban Rotations x8||Banded Squats x8|
|Shoulder Dislocations x8||Lunges x8|
|Band Pull-Aparts x6||Cossack Squats x6|
|Elbow Circles x10||(foam roller) IT Band x6-8|
|Wide Arm Claps x8||(tennis ball) Glutes x6-8|
|Wrist Rotations x8||(foam roller) Abductors x6-8|
|Elbow Extensions x6||(foam roller) T-Spine Extension x6|
As you can see from above, the equipment list which you’ll need for this is quite short and that is the following:
- PVC pipe (can be replaced with a band or kettlebell)
- Foam roller
- Resistance bands
The Purpose Of This Routine
Like we’ve talked about at the beginning of this article, sitting or standing for prolonged hours can make your muscles tight and increase the risk of a lower-back injury .
If you perform any kind of warm up, that will surely help – however, the warm up which I’ve composed above is an optimal one meaning that all muscle and joint areas will be handled quite extensively and then you can safely start your workout.
The whole routine should take you no more than 10 minutes (15 maximum) – and I’ve measured this with my trusty stopwatch.
Although I do believe that these warm-ups are helpful (as I’ve described above) I do not think that you should spend half of your precious workout time just on warming up, or even worse – losing our energy (and motivation if you need it although I do believe in discipline and intensity more…but let’s not drift off the topic).
Additionally, I’ve gradually improved this routine over the years based on my practical experience as well as performing additional research including discussing warm up drills with Olympic coaches and strength and conditioning coaches.
With that said, I’d like to mention that I do occasionally make changes to my warm up drills based on minor muscle or tendon strains – but the core foundation is still there and that is the foundation of targeting both parts of the body equally (upper and lower).
Warming up all your tight areas is the smart way to prepare yourself before lifting big weights – and your body will thank you for it. You’ll also remind your body its original mechanical (motion) patterns as well, since sitting at the desk can make it forget how to perform a basic squat or pick up a weight from the floor without bending your lumbar spine.
Let me know how this routine worked out for you!
 –Effects of prolonged sitting on the passive flexion stiffness of the in vivo lumbar spine