The Best Way to Warm Up Before Lifting Weights

The Best Way to Warm Up Before Lifting Weights

Okay, let’s talk about warmups. We all know we're meant to do them, but if you’re anything like the majority of people, you probably find them kind of boring.

For as long as I can remember warmups have been brushed over – never really more than just going through the motions and ticking a box.

And that’s likely because they come in the form of an uninspired 3-5 minute trudge on the treadmill, bike, or rower, which, to a lifter, is the most mundane experience in the gym.

When it comes to maximizing your performance in the gym, a good warm up is non-negotiable. The benefits extend far beyond just preventing injuries – a well-executed warm-up primes your body for the challenges of weightlifting, ensuring you get the most out of every rep and set. In this blog, we will delve into how to warm up before lifting.

Benefits of a Proper Warm-Up Routine

The advantages of a good warm up are manifold. Firstly, it increases blood flow to your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients while removing waste products. This enhanced circulation prepares your body for the upcoming demands of lifting weights, reducing the risk of strains and tears.

Additionally, a warm-up increases your core body temperature, making your body more pliable and less prone to injury. This is crucial, especially when engaging in heavy lifting or intense resistance training. Moreover, a warm-up set preps your central nervous system, enhancing the connection between your brain and body for improved coordination for heavy lifts.

The Best Weightlifting Warm-Up Exercise and Routine

Do you need warm up routines before lifting weights? The unequivocal answer is yes. Whether you're a seasoned lifter or a beginner, a warm up set is the key to unlocking your full potential and safeguarding your body from unnecessary strain.

So, what am I gonna do about this? I'm going to tell you how to warm up before lifting while targeting each muscle group and how they will improve your performance.

Research has identified that performing 2 x 6 repetitions at 40% and 80% before your working set is best for optimizing performance. A 3-5 minute cardio warmup is one of the most effective ways to increase blood flow to your target body and warm up muscle tissue, thus improving performance.

5–10 Minutes of Cardio

Before delving into the specifics of a lifting session or deadlift warm up, it's crucial to kickstart your routine with a brief cardio session. Spending 5–10 minutes on cardio warm up serves as the ideal prelude to your core temperature, elevating your heart rate and initiating the physiological changes necessary for an effective workout.

Engaging in activation drills such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or jumping jacks not only increases blood circulation but also raises your core body temperature. This high intensity routines prepare the stage for the subsequent phases of your warm-up, enhancing the overall efficacy of your preparation. Remember, this isn't about exhausting yourself; it's about gradually revving up your cardiovascular system in anticipation of the challenges ahead.

How Long Should I Warm Up Before Lifting Weights?

The duration of your warm-up depends on various factors, including the intensity of your workout and your individual needs. Generally, aim for a minimum of 10 minutes for a thorough warm-up. If you're engaging in heavy lifting or targeting specific muscle groups, consider extending your warm-up to ensure optimal readiness.

But what about heavy lifting? How should you prepare before attempting those challenging bench press or muscle-straining lifts?

Do You Need To Warm Up Before Lifting?

The question of whether to warm up before lifting isn't up for debate – it's a resounding yes. Regardless of your fitness level or the type of workout, you're about to embark on, a proper warm-up is a fundamental step in any effective exercise routine. Not only does it mitigate the risk of injuries, but it also optimizes your performance by preparing your body both physically and mentally for the challenges of bench press or other strength training.

Skipping the stretching might seem tempting when pressed for time, but the potential consequences far outweigh the momentary time saved. Injuries, reduced flexibility, and compromised strength are just a few of the risks associated with neglecting this essential prelude to your workout.

Therefore, make it a non-negotiable part of your fitness regimen and reap the rewards of a well-prepared body.

How Should I Warm Up Before Heavy Lifting?

The warm-up before heavy lifting requires special attention. Begin with a general warm-up involving light cardio to get your blood flowing. Follow this with dynamic stretching to improve flexibility and joint mobility. Then, incorporate activation exercises that target the specific groups of the body you'll be working on.

The three most important components of a warm-up routine for heavy lifting are increasing blood circulation, enhancing flexibility, and activating key muscle groups. This trifecta ensures your body is well-prepared for the demands of strength training, and we will delve into each of these routines in the next section.

Adopt a mindset of gradual progression. As you move through your warm-up, gradually increase the intensity to mimic the upcoming workout's demands. This progressive approach not only readies your body for the challenge but also minimizes the risk of shock to your system.

By the time you approach your first heavy set, your body will be in an optimal state to handle the load, leading to a safer and more productive lifting experience.

The 3 Most Important Components of a Warm-Up Routine

A well-rounded warm-up routine comprises three pivotal components, each playing a crucial role in priming your body for the demands of strength training.

Increasing Blood Flow

The first component involves engaging in activities that boost blood circulation to your body. This can be achieved through light cardio exercises such as brisk walking, and jogging. Increased blood circulation delivers vital nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, preparing them for the upcoming workload.

Enhancing Flexibility

The second component focuses on dynamic stretch to improve flexibility and joint mobility. Dynamic stretch, unlike static stretching, involves active movements that take your muscles through a full range of motion. Static stretches are held in a fixed position for a specific duration. This helps to prevent injuries, as flexible muscles are better equipped to handle the stress of strength training.

Activating Key Muscle Groups

The third and final component centers on activating a specific muscle that will be heavily involved in your workout. This phase typically includes weights or resistance band movements targeting the muscles you'll be emphasizing during strength training. Activating these muscles ensures they are firing efficiently and reduces the risk of strain during your strength training.

Dynamic Warm-Up

Dynamic warm-ups involve active movements that take your joints, and two muscle groups through an entire body motion. Examples include leg swings and deep squats. These exercises not only increase flexibility but also stimulate the mind, priming yourself for the lifts ahead.

Examples of Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises

Consider incorporating dynamic exercises like high knees, leg kicks, and shoulder rolls into your warm-up routine. These movements engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting overall readiness for strength training.

Leg Swings and Hip Circles

Leg swings are an excellent way to engage your lower body dynamically. Stand near a support, such as a wall, and swing your right leg or left leg forward and backward, then side to side. This not only warms up your hip flexors and hamstrings but also increase mobility.

Arm Circles and Shoulder Rolls

For the upper body, arm circles and shoulder rolls are effective dynamic warm-up exercises. Arm circles involve rotating your arms in small and large circular motions, engaging the shoulder joints and improving flexibility.

Arm Circles and Shoulder Rolls

For the upper back muscles, shoulder rolls are effective dynamic warm-up exercises. Arm circles involve rotating your arms in small and large circular motions, engaging the shoulder joints and improving flexibility.

Jumping Jacks

A classic dynamic warm-up exercise effectively raises your heart rate and engages both the upper and lower parts. This full-body movement involves jumping to spread your legs while simultaneously raising your arms overhead and then returning to the starting position.

Upper Body Weightlifting Workout Activation Exercises

Prioritize upper body activation exercises like shoulder rotations, push ups, and band pull-apart. These movements specifically target the muscles involved in pressing and pulling, ensuring they are firing on all cylinders before you start lifting heavy.

Squat Warm-Up Exercises Activation Exercises

For those gearing up for a deep squat, dedicate time to activation drills like weight squats, leg swings, and hip circles for hip mobility. These exercises hone in on the muscles crucial for a stable and powerful squat, reducing the risk of injury and allowing you for a more certified strength.

But are there specific warm-ups you can do to optimize workout performance for each part? Absolutely! Let’s dive right in.


Warmups (Dynamic): Bike, rower, or elliptical machine to increase blood pressure, weight squats, dynamic hip flexor stretch, dynamic groin stretch, walking lunges, and leg swings.

Cool down (Static): Static quad stretching with a foam roller, and hamstring foam roll stretching for ankle mobility.


Warmups (Dynamic): Rower or bike to increase blood pressure and warm muscles. Weight hip thrusts for hip mobility, bodyweight squats, or lunges to engage muscles.

Cool down (Static): Glute stretch.


Warmups (Dynamic): Rower or elliptical to increase blood circulation. Light chest press and incline to activate a muscle group and dynamic arms swing in and out, in circles.

Cool down (Static): Chest door stretches 45° and 90°.


Warmups (Dynamic): Rower or elliptical to warm muscles. Light kettlebell work and cable face pull to engage the shoulders and rotator cuff.

Cool down (Static): Chest door stretch 45° and 90°, across the body shoulder stretch.


Warmups (Dynamic): Rower or elliptical. Cable face pulls, light seated row, and straight arm lat pulldown to activate the lats and upper back.

Cool down (Static): Lat stretch.


Warmups (Dynamic): Rower or elliptical to increase arm circulation. Arm swings in and out, light biceps curls, push ups, or tricep extensions to engage prime movers of the muscle.

Cool down (Static): Over-the-head tricep stretch and straight arm bicep stretch.

Here's what it looks like put together.

Putting It All Together: How To Warm Up In 5 Minutes Before A Workout

When time is of the essence, condense your warm-up routine without sacrificing effectiveness. Start with a quick 5–10 minutes of cardio to raise your heart rate. Follow this with dynamic stretches, incorporating movements that mimic the exercise science you'll be performing. Finally, activate key groups of the body with resistance exercise, resistance bands, or any other activation drills.

The Bottom Line on Warming Up Before Working Out

In conclusion, a proper warm-up is your ticket to safer, more effective strength training and exercise. It's not just a box to check before your workout; it's an essential component of your overall fitness routine. By dedicating time to warm up, you'll set the stage for optimal performance and long-term success in your bodybuilding journey.

Warmups are a time to connect with our bodies and understand the mechanics of exercise. Those 3-5 minute windows not only will help improve our light weight or heavy lifts, but also our function in our day-to-day lives.

Dynamically taking our joints and muscles through end ranges of motion using lighter loads which have been identified to improve performance, allows us to activate muscle fibers, and connective tissues, and establish our mind-muscle connection, altogether improving our results without the need for a conditioning specialist.

By taking just 5-10 minutes before each session you will be greatly improving your quality of movement for years to come.

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