Lifting HEAVY? Warm up.
When you have a bad workout, have you ever paused to think at what point the workout went south? Was it when you went to go for a new PR? Or were you too short with your rest periods -so you got under the bar without recovering properly? Did you forget your belt at home?
Did you ever think that you were set up to fail before you even touched the barbell?
Warming up is one of the most neglected parts of any daily workout (It’s probably only second to stretching) and is way more than just pounding out reps with an empty bar.
The best warm ups have 4 important steps - Cardiovascular warm up, mobility, muscle activation and movement practice. If your warmup has key parts, you’re ready to get under a bar and move some weight.
Here’s how you can get started:
1. Cardiovascular warm up.
You want to get the heart pumping and blood moving through your body. This is more important if you’re working in the winter, when blood flow to your extremities might be limited. If one is available, hop on an exercise bike and bike easily for 5 minutes. You can also go for a short run or use a rowing machine. If all else fails, take some time to do some jumping jacks on the platform to get your heart pumping.
2. Mobility work.
After you have warmed your muscles and have some blood flowing in your system, you’re primed and ready for some dynamic stretching. Use this time to really open up the joints you’ll be working, like doing some deep air squats to open your hips, or leg swings. If doing bench or overhead press, get your hands on a PVC pipe and do some easy arm circles to make sure you have full range of motion in all of your joints.
3. Muscle activation.
If you’ve never done muscle activation before lifting heavy, you don’t know what you’re missing. Muscle activation primes key muscle groups for recruitment during a workout and helps you be more successful. Some ideas are light, bodyweight pushups for bench day, air squats with a hip circle for squats, and plank - to help activate your core EVERY day.
4. Movement drilling.
This final step is to make sure that you’re capable of doing the exercise. While we may think that strength is just might - it’s important to remember that a major part of strength is the neurological pathway that moves from your brain to your muscle that actually allows you to move the bar. Do some reps at a light weight to drill the exercise, then slowly work up to your working sets.
By the time you get to Movement Drilling, you’ll feel like you’ve already got a more than capable workout in! With this warm up, you’ll be more than prepared to kill it in the gym, and smash your last PR!