View Full Version : Warming up for strength

10-24-2003, 07:28 PM
What is your opinion of this (part of an) article:

Warming Up For Strength (1-6 reps)

When referring to strength I choose the traditional definition of absolute strength meaning to move the most weight possible, regardless of time or any other factor. Wanna bench press 350lbs? Pay Attention! Wanna do a pull-up with a Buick strapped to your waist? Listen up! I see this one screwed up every time I go to the gym. A bit of physiology is necessary to understand the implications of a proper (or improper) strength warm up. First off maximal strength is a product of the size and number of Type IIB muscle fibers, and the ability of your nervous system to activate them. These are the most sensitive of all of your fibers and are referred to as "high threshold". Think of them as that significant other you used to have that would cry and slam doors every time you said something wrong. Treat these fibers wrong, even for a second and they'll surely slam the door in your face causing you to lose strength.

Mistake #1: High Rep Warm Ups- High reps (10 and above) will cause your body to release lactic acid into the blood stream which significantly impairs the nervous system's ability to activate high threshold (think strength) motor units. WHAM!! The door just slammed, and an inspirational picture of your goal physique fell of the wall. Keep the reps in your warm up sets at six or below (see examples below).

Mistake #2: Low Set Warm Ups- Knock out 10 reps with the bar, 10 reps with plates on each side, and hit it…right? Wrong! Let your nervous system know what's coming for God's sake! Don't send a soldier into battle with pepper spray! The closer you are working to your one rep max during your real sets, the more warm up sets you need. I recommend about 3-5 warm up sets, each with progressively heavier weight, but never excessively fatiguing yourself for your real sets.

Mistake #3: Stretching- Before you turn the page muttering about heresy, hear me out. Healthy muscles remain at optimum contraction length in a resting position. When you stretch them, you cause them to go into a suboptimal contraction length, hence weakening the fibers (temporarily). Don't get me wrong, stretching is great, just not before you are going to call upon a muscle to perform at peak output levels. So save your stretching for after your workout, or better yet…stretch the antagonist (opposite) to the muscle you are going to use. Benching heavy- stretch the lats! Squatting heavy- stretch the hip flexors! You will find that this can enhance the effects of the stretch shortening cycle (that's a very good thing) and make your bench press/squat stronger! Exceptions do exist, however; if the muscle you are about to train is chronically tight, by all means stretch it first, because it is probably at a suboptimal contraction length at the other end of the spectrum. I am not going to discuss specifics, but for those of you familiar with PNF stretching, studies have shown it to cause short-term gains in strength, so feel free to give it a try pre-workout.

Mistake #4: General Warm Ups- The nervous system picks up patterns, and running on the treadmill, or pedal pushing for 5-10min to "get the blood flowing" or whatever rationale you use does nothing to prepare the C.N.S. for a highly specific task like benching, squatting, rows or any other exercise for that matter (other than running or biking). So do your body a favor and don't waste your glycogen (stored energy) on something that isn't going to help your body complete the task at hand. If you're going to squat, warm up by squatting, stay away from the treadmill. In fact, walk a wide path around it as I've seen those things leach glycogen from people's livers osmoticaly from three feet away. You wouldn't warm up your car for a trip to the grocery store by hopping on the highway would you?

Example Warm Up Routines:

Keep a constant moderate tempo on all reps, about 3 seconds down, 3 seconds up (3030)
Only perform warm up sets for the 1st exercise per cold muscle group
Rest only as long as it takes to change the weights between warm up sets
6 > 4 > 2:
Planned Work Sets- 4 sets of 6 reps @ 225lbs
Warm up set 1: 50% 6RM =110lbs x 6 reps
Warm up set 2: 70% 6RM =160lbs x 4 reps
Warm up set 3: 90% 6RM =205lbs x 2 reps

4 > 3 > 2 > 1:
Planned Work Sets- 5 sets of 3 reps @ 275lbs
Warm up set 1: 50% 3RM =135lbs x 4 reps
Warm up set 2: 75% 3RM =205lbs x 3 reps
Warm up set 3: 90% 3RM =245lbs x 2 reps
Warm up set 4: 95% 3RM =260lbs x 1 rep

Source: http://www.johnberardi.com/updates/oct252002/na_warmup.htm

Warm-ups for me usually include what he said not to do...
I'll usually jump rope/jumping jacks/bike for a couple minutes, then do short, light stretches, then do 2-3 warm-up sets for the first exercise (which generally happens to hit most of the muscles that I'll hit again later in the workout). I might do one short warm-up set for the other stuff...

So..your opinions?

10-24-2003, 07:32 PM
He just pretty much described how I warm up. My 2nd to last warm up set isn't that close to my working set but the first warm up scheme he showed is my exact warm up.

I like to do some dips and pullups before any work but I never go over 6 reps on either. I've noticed all this has worked pretty well for me.

10-24-2003, 08:35 PM
Same here.

10-25-2003, 04:34 AM
me to

Bruise Brubaker
10-25-2003, 12:56 PM
Why do you think about "manual" warming up. I let very hot water runs on my hands before training, it makes my grip stronger.

10-25-2003, 02:37 PM
Nice article thats what i also do.

10-25-2003, 10:53 PM
I already knew about not stretching, and the others I've heard before, but with it put all together it's a bit more dramatic. Looks like I need to rework my warmups.

10-27-2003, 07:55 AM
I take the bar first and warmup with like 20 reps than i take 135 and dont' take much time inbetween and do that 15 x's than I take 225 do that 10x's and than I take 315 and do that for 5 reps than I do my 3 sets of 5, after my workout I do rotary cuff exercises to strengthen it, so I have a less of a chance of injuring my rotar cuff in the future.

10-28-2003, 03:45 PM
i used to do high rep warmups and by the time i did my heavy sets i was so drained. Since lately i have been doing slow increases in weight about 5 warm up sets and it helps out a lot.

10-28-2003, 08:28 PM
If anyone wants to talk Powerlifting, my aim is PUMP4054LIFE

10-28-2003, 08:48 PM
Good article. I have been going about warmups the wrong way.

10-29-2003, 05:22 PM
4 > 3 > 2 > 1:
Planned Work Sets- 5 sets of 3 reps @ 275lbs
Warm up set 1: 50% 3RM =135lbs x 4 reps
Warm up set 2: 75% 3RM =205lbs x 3 reps
Warm up set 3: 90% 3RM =245lbs x 2 reps
Warm up set 4: 95% 3RM =260lbs x 1 rep

I just did that one above. Worked awesome.

10-29-2003, 06:43 PM
Originally posted by DEADLIFT4405
If anyone wants to talk Powerlifting, my aim is PUMP4054LIFE

i put u on my buddy list but ur not on so ill talk to you when you come on.

10-30-2003, 10:27 AM
I have to bump this. I do 10 reps for my sets so I modified the rep scheme. 10(50%)>5(70%)>3(90%). So much better than my old warmup routine. I feel better when I do the heavy sets now. More confident as well.

05-29-2009, 09:25 PM
I agree with the concept pretty much, but not neccessarily with the prescribed warmup routines.

Jesse Hernandez
05-29-2009, 11:25 PM
Why do you think about "manual" warming up. I let very hot water runs on my hands before training, it makes my grip stronger.

Any science behind this?

05-30-2009, 02:15 AM
anyway i amm going to be doing 250x3 for my first set and then 250x2 for 4 other sets i was thinking of doing this...

Then go into my sets.

05-30-2009, 03:49 AM
I do a general body warm up before I squat, if I don't I"m too tight.

Besides that I do about everything he says.

05-30-2009, 06:10 PM
For a heavy set of 235, I will do...

Barx10, 10
215x1, then

something like that. If I'm doing a heavy set of 3 on squats I'll usually do...
barx10, 10

So you're sort of adjusting for the plate jumps, but keeps things sensible. There's no reason to do 135x10, or really anything above 5 reps for a warm up (besides the bar), unless you're moving some massive weights.

05-30-2009, 07:11 PM
Occasionally on my 5x5 I will do 1 rep of 5-10 pounds above my working set. I have always PRed when I have done this.

225 x 5, warmup to 235 x 1 then hit working sets.

05-31-2009, 01:45 PM
When training equipped I usually do this.


135 x 8-10

225 x 6

275 x 3

315 x 1

Add Shirt

500x 1-5 @ 2 boards (depending on what phase I'm in)

600 x 1-3 @ 2 boards (depending on what phase)

600-630 x 1 @ 1 board

700+ x 1 @ 2 boards (depending on phase, my best here was 821)

Squats: Briefs and belt

235 x 5

415 x 5

add wraps

600 x 1-5 (*depending on phase)

700 x 1

750-800+ x 1 *

Closer to meet, add suit

830-850 x 1

870 -900+ x 1


930+ x 1 (depending on the feel of the previous set) Vary the box height 1-2 inches high to feel and handle more weight.

That's a lot less reps than I used to do and still the best group of PLs I know tell me I'm doing way to many reps! Hard to give up the BB mentality completely; LOL! The first time I trained with them I was shocked that their 1st WU squat set was 415. Not to feel like a wuss' I started there and did 5 reps. One of them said "What! Are you a bodybuilder?" So, I started paying attention to what they were doing and every set was 1 rep! From 415 all the way to 1031! I quit at 903. I didn't feel I should question their philosophy...given their results! They bench the same way! They only rep on accessary days. Kinda' the extreme end of the above article!