tim's Tip's are written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT
Funny how good intentions can sometimes backfire. You’re likely aware of the need to “warm up” before tackling a weightlifting exercise. This is because it helps to get your blood flowing and adds to the contractile strength of your muscles. It literally “warms” them up, making them more pliable and elastic. Diving straight into weightlifting when your muscles are cool is not recommended, because it will impair performance and also put you at risk of injury. So how can you make sure you warm up the correct way?
We often see people who ride a stationary bike for 10 minutes or sit in a sauna for 5 minutes and mistakenly believe they’re warmed up. This may cause you to break a sweat, but it doesn’t really warm up your working muscles ideally. The best way to warm up is to perform one or two pre-sets of the very same exercise you’re about to work on. For example, before loading a pair of 45-pound plates to both sides of a bench press barbell, do a couple of pre-sets with no plates at all to activate the right muscles. After all, you have to “wake up” your muscle fibers before you warm them up. You may also wish, after one or two warm-up pre-sets, to complete one last pre-set using the same weight as your first working set, but performing only half the number of reps (e.g. just do 5 reps as a pre-set, then 10 reps as your first working set). Both of these options will warm up the muscles you’re about to engage in a much better way.