Do Your Warm Ups Serve a Greater Purpose?
Warm up reps, how do you approach them? Do you just treat them as a chore and just go through the motions because you’re told to you need to warm up? If you are guilty of this I am going to urge you to change your warm up habits. Start doing your warm ups with purpose. Your warm ups serve a variety of purposes.
1) There is the superficial part of “warming up” your muscle/CNS to the day’s loads; however they should be a much more valuable tool then this.
2) Use your warm ups as a diagnostic tool for the movement you are performing. Are your hips, shoulders, quads tight? If this is the case then go do some light mobility/rolling out in between sets. For the more technical lifts use it as a way to gauge how you’re feeling that day (this idea can also be applied to the less technical lifts). Is the bar drifting away from you, are you pulling with the arms to early, not opening your hips all the way? These are problems that can be identified and fixed sometimes at the lower weights.
3) Each warm up rep is practice. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is tossed around a lot, however this doesn’t hold much weight if your practice reps (i.e your warm up reps) are shit. If you don’t take your warm up sets serious then you’re practicing improper mechanics so that is what you are getting good at. A better take on this phrase that I got from John Welbourn is “perfect practice makes perfect.” Apply this concept to your warm up reps.
To build on this practice idea if you know you have tendencies in certain lifts, your warm ups reps are the time to address these issues. Don’t drop under the bar well? In the lighter weights practice intentionally dropping lower then you normally do. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these are just warm up weights I’ll get lower as the weight gets heavier. If dropping under the bar is an issue of yours then it probably isn’t going to magically happen during your working sets.
4) Lastly, this is where you start to create your rhythm. The way you approach your warm up set up should be exactly the same you approach working sets. Start to create your set up habits; for example in a squat you find your grip, get under the bar, pinch your upper back, take out the weight, squeeze your butt, squeeze your stomach, send your hips back, then drive like hell out of the bottom. Establish this set up rhythm early, this way it becomes natural when it comes time to hit your weight for the day, and you have already practiced the physical and mental preparation multiple times. Again, this is not just something you try to turn on when it gets heavy. There have been a lot of studies that show having the exact same set up/pre-lift habits help create a better mental state and get you in the “zone.”
If you aren’t taking your warm ups seriously thats just free money your leaving on the table.
Hopefully after reading this you access your own warm up practices. Do you currently do any of these? Is there anything else you feel should be on the list? Post thoughts to comments.
Deadlift 5 RM (add 10 lbs to last workout)
Power Snatch 6×2
Tabata DL Challenge
Weight: 315 lbs
*Start the clock and perform as many reps as possible for 20 seconds of deadlifts. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat this 7 more times for a total of 8 sets. Your score is counted by the total number of reps in 8 sets.
*Scale as needed. Goal is 50 reps or more