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Warm Up for Strength

An effective warm up prepares the body for the workout by both increasing the temperature of the tissues and preparing the neuromuscular system for the movements ahead. During the last several weeks we have been beginning most classes with the strength component consisting of 3setsx5reps of a given barbell movement. As the weight gets heavier and more challenging, a proper warm up is essential to success under the bar. We must find the perfect amount of warm up sets to prepare the body without fatiguing it.

The first component to an effective warm up for lifting is a 5 minute cardio piece to get the body moving and literally “warm” the body up. Ideally during this first component, the range of motion needed to perform the lift of your choice is explored. So, if you are planning on squatting, jumping on a rower might be the best option to get your hips loosened up. And if you’re planning on overhead pressing, add in some kipping swings could be beneficial to loosen up your shoulders overhead.

The second component of an effective warm up involves getting under the barbell. Perform 2 sets of 5 reps with the empty bar, stretching or foam rolling for a couple minutes between sets. Then, take 3-5 more warm up sets making jumps towards your working weight. There really is no need to perform more than 5 reps during the warm up sets, in fact as you move closer to your working weight, sets of 3 or 2 are sufficient.

Below is an example of how to warm up for 3×5 squats at 200lbs
5 reps with the empty bar
Stretch/foam roll/lacrosse ball for a couple minutes
5 reps with the empty bar
95lbs for 5
135lbs for 3
165lbs for 3
185lbs for 2
Working sets—200lbs for 3×5

*Unlike the working sets, only a short break is needed between warm up sets. Once you reach your working weight, keep track of rest time and try to give yourself 3-5 minutes between sets at heavy weights*

Don’t discount the warm up. These reps should be treated like working sets with the same focus on technique. Have a plan going into the strength portion of the workout especially as the weights get heavier and you get stronger. If you have any questions, feel free to ask a coach.

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