I believe that many trainers and trainees don't know about properly warming up before a training session.
Just have a look in your public gym or fitness center and hardly 2% (and that's if you are lucky) of the people are doing some kind of a warm up that's effective for the training that they are about to do.
Most people will do some form of cardio, roll over a foam roller, stretch or simply do endless bicep curls with 2KG Dumbbells in each hand before a leg workout.
So I am going to give you my steps that you can use for planning / programming your warm ups and the way you approach your training.
Step Number 1: First Things First
Oxygen. Without oxygen we would be dead. And when we have too little of it we can't function as well as we should. All of the body systems, even at the cellular level trigger, depend on oxygen.
The more oxygen in the body, the better the nervous system can fire and trigger. So the more power and motor units you can activate. A good example is when you are performing a set of squats for 15 reps or more, you will see that when your legs start to fatigue it will become more difficult for you to activate and create force. This is simply because of the lactic acid build up caused by the lack of oxygen in the body.
So what i like to do is charge our bodies with oxygen through breathing exercises.
I usually start with deep breathing as soon as I wake up and throughout the day. But to give your body a boost before training is very nice and simple for you to perform.
Perform 2 rounds of 30 deep breaths before doing anything else. It will not give your body just oxygen, but a better focus and positive mind-set can be achieved too.
The breathing method I use to really boost oxygen deep and fast is the Wim Hof Method.
It's simple, fast and effective. You can find a link here on how to perform the breathing exercise:
Step Number 2: Increasing Body Temperature and Deep Blood Flow
This does not mean doing endless reps and performing cardio for 20 minutes. The negative effects you get from fatigue is not a good thing if you want to perform at your best.
So we might as well do something that's more bang for your buck, so what I like to do is a basic full body gymnastic / type of warm up that will bring blood flow to the deep areas such as the connective tissue's but it will also mobilize and bring blood to all of the joints in the body so we have less chance of injury and we can get into some positions much more efficiently.
People such as powerlifters never even heard of a warm-up like this, but they will benefit hugely from a simple warm up like this, think about wrist flexibility and shoulder mobility in the squat or bench press; the chance of a bicep or pec tear will decrease too because we bring blood and activation in those deep areas and the range of motion we use with this warm up is far greater then you would in the actual strength training.
So the body becomes more ready and can receive and handle impact better. Once you are done with this routine, the temperature of the body has increased too.
Over the years I have picked some things up and I have made my own resistance band and mobility routine you can find in the videos below:
Step Number 3: Mobilizing Specific Areas That Are Needed For That Day
So many trainers like to just jump into the specific movement they are working, starting light and building up. This is not bad, but I find if we can open up certain areas that limit us from getting into a better position or executing an exercise better, then hell, don't be lazy and perform 2-3 mobility exercises and boom you have increased your performance for that specific exercise.
So again, we have to get very specific with warm-ups and mobility, so you must find the areas that limit you and open them up with active mobility work. Never work on passive stretching, as long duration stretches can cause a higher risk of injury and can weaken your actual performance.
But here is where the magic happens. Really! I am going to give you a few examples on what I like to do for certain exercises. (Again work on what limits you, but think outside of the box).
For example, the Back Squat. If we mobilize the ankle to increase dorsiflexion, open up the hip flexor for better squat movement, work on shoulder mobility such as shoulder stick dislocations and wrist mobility so we can have have a more upright position, closer grip on the bar, and less pain overall, this will make huge changes in your squat performance.
Remember this can be done with any exercise, just think a little bit on what joints you are actually using and need to position in certain exercises and trigger those!
Step Number 4: BE SPECIFIC and Build Up Smart!
So as we come to our last part, people will still make the mistake of doing a completely different exercise when building up to an exercise or perform way too many reps and will be burned out before they reach working weight. So first I like to cover weightlifting, as bodyweight exercises take a kind of different approach.
When you are about to do Back Squats, you build up with Back Squats, when you are about to do Overhead Presses you warm up with Overhead Presses, simple as that.
All you need to do is work the range of motion and movement.
So the stronger you are / the higher the working weight, the more sets you need to do. The higher the reps the less sets you need to do. The more complex exercise the more sets you need to do. The higher the working weight, the bigger the jumps you can make.
Remember every movement is a skill, so the more often you can perform it perfectly the better it gets. (Even if its low weight).
This is also why banging out a set of high reps with no focus at all over and over again is pretty useless and stupid if you want to achieve best performance. And then you wonder why you still suck.
So I am going to give you an example for somebody who is about to perform sets of 3 and somebody who is going to perform sets of 8. Remember we all are different so find out what jumps / reps work best for you and stick with it. Just remember the rules.
Example 1: 6 sets of 3 with 180KG in the Back Squat
Empty Bar: 4-6 reps. rest 30 seconds.
40KG: 4-6 reps. rest 30 seconds.
80KG: 3-5 reps. rest 60 seconds.
100KG: 3-4 reps. rest 60-90 seconds.
120KG: 2-3 reps. Rest 90-120 seconds.
140KG: 2 reps. Rest 120 seconds.
160KG 1-2 reps. Rest 120-150 seconds.
180KG 3 reps x 6 sets. Rest 180 seconds.
Example 2: 4 sets of 8 with 80KG in the Overhead Press
Empty Bar: 5-6 reps. rest 30 seconds.
30KG: 5 reps. rest 30-60 seconds.
45KG: 4-5 reps. rest 60 seconds.
60KG: 4-5 reps. rest 60-90 seconds.
70KG: 3 reps. rest 90-120 seconds.
80KG: 2 reps. rest 90-120 seconds.
Overload: 90KG: 2 reps. rest 120 seconds.
80KG 8 reps x 4 sets. rest 180 seconds.
So for bodyweight exercises it takes a bit of a different build-up style than for weightlifting, but you want to always work on the movement and motion you are about to do in your training, especially if you are talking about more complex movements such as a muscle up or a 90-degree push up.
But for weighted basic exercises such as dips, chins and push ups you can build up the same way as weightlifting.
So the more complex a movement, the more build up sets you need, and you do this with progressions. I am going to give you a few examples below.
One Arm Chin-up: 3 x 3 sets
Hanging Retractions: 5 reps x 3 sec holds. 30 sec rest.
Chin-up on the rings 5 reps. 60 sec rest.
One arm hanging retractions: 3 reps x 3 sec holds. 30 sec rest between arms, 60 sec rest.
Archer chin ups on the rings: 2-3 reps per arm. 30 sec rest between arms, 60 sec rest.
Assisted Middle finger chin ups on the rings: 1-2 reps per arm. 30 sec rest between arms, 100 sec rest.
One arm chin up on the rings: 1 rep per arm. 30 sec rest between arms, 100 sec rest.
One arm chin up on the rings 3 reps x 3 sets. 120 sec rest between arms. keep alternating.
90 degree push up: 5 x 5 sets. Basic floor push-ups 6-8 reps. 30 sec rest.
Pike push ups between handles: 4-6 reps. 60 sec rest.
HSPU with belly facing the wall: 3-4 reps. 60 sec rest.
Psuedo Planche push ups on the floor: 4-6 reps. 60-90 sec rest.
Freestanding HSPU on the floor: 3-5 reps. 90 sec rest.
Bent arm planche hold on the handles: 5-10 sec. 90-120 sec rest.
90 degree push up: 1-2 reps. 90-120 sec rest.
90 degree push ups: 5 reps x 5 sets. 180 sec rest.
So please implement these steps next time you are about to train, remember the best way is to always have a plan, even for the warm-up and go on feeling on what you need to add to optimize performance.
There are still some magic-tricks that can be added but that can be only given and understood in a person to person way.
However, the above is for everybody and anybody that doesn't have any special equipment, etc. and still make their training as effective as possible.
Enjoy your new SAFE gains with this warm up structure and I hope you guys found this guide valuable.