If you’re an experienced weightlifter, you are going to spend a decent amount of time warming up pre-workout. If you are not warming up, odds are you are probably less experienced when it comes to working out ‘properly’. For a warm-up, the inexperienced weightlifter might do a couple of leg swings and shoulder rotations and call it a day. They may even feel pain during their makeshift warm-up but decide to ‘push through’ the pain due to their inflated egos.
But here’s the thing: An experienced weightlifter knows that listening to their body is crucial in being able to perform. ‘Pushing through’ shouldn’t be an option. The experienced lifter knows that ‘pushing through’ could mean having to take off an unprecedented amount of time off of their workout regimen due to an injury - an injury that they likely would have been able to avoid entirely if they’d simply warmed up sufficiently.
How long should you warm up for?
There is no straight answer for this. The kind of warm-up you do depends on what kind of workout will follow. If you are planning on doing some light to moderate cardio, dynamic moves such as hamstring swings, dynamic quad stretches, hip rotations and inchworms might be sufficient. However, if you are planning on going into a heavy lifting session, you are going to want to spend more time on mobilizing all of the areas you intend on working.
Your body is a kinetic chain
It is important to remember that the body is a kinetic chain. One part cannot move freely without the other. Let's take deadlifts as an example. Although this exercise focuses on lower body strength with the glutes and hamstrings being the main muscles activated, deadlifts are a full body exercise. This means that you should mobilize your entire body pre-workout. This could also be said for squats, bent-over rows, kettlebell swings, and so on. Every exercise you do always will require core strength and stability – your abdominal muscles and your back muscles help to stabilize your spine. Therefore you are going to depend on these muscles for all of your ‘lifts’.
Play it safe
Create a mobility warm-up routine for the entire body that you will do prior to every weightlifting workout. This way you know that you’ve covered your bases, and seeing as us humans are creatures of habit, this will soon become second nature to you. Try checking out full body mobility routine suggestions and deciding on one that works for you.
Mimic your lifting moves
Adding some bodyweight exercises to your warm-up is key. For example, if your lifts include squats, chest press, bent-over rows, and so on, add the following: body weight squats, push-ups and bodyweight inverted rows. About 15 reps post mobility warm-up should be sufficient.
You should also FEEL warm
This one is a no-brainer: don’t go into a workout before you actually feel warm. Yes, this means that you will need to break a little sweat before you go into the bulk of your workout. As your body temperature becomes warmer, the oxygen in your blood becomes more readily available. This will increase your muscle elasticity and therefore your overall work capacity. If your mobility warm-up doesn’t make you break a light sweat, hop on a piece of cardio equipment such as a rower or a bike for a few minutes, or do some old school jumping jacks to get the blood flowing.
Warming up in the best way to prevent injuries and ensure that you can continue with your fitness journey. After all, you are never too cool to be injured.
Jennifer Slauenwhite is a Fitness Professional and a Mother of two with a passion for health and overall well-being. She has spent her entire life in the fitness industry through many family owned and operated fitness centres and has spent the last decade cultivating a community of strong like-minded women. She strives to set an example for women to be the best they can be by channeling their inner athlete and putting up some healthy competition against themselves! She is also the founder and owner of Queens Fitness Strength & Conditioning Studio for Women in Toronto - follow her on Instagram @queens.fitness or on Facebook @ One Tough Mother By Jennifer Slauenwhite. #leadbyexample