1. Warm Up Like A Wuss
Why do you see some of the most elite power lifters in the world warm up with several sets of just the 45lb bar? These are athletes that can lift 10-20 times more, yet they are warming up with this ridiculously light weight?!?! So why would you start out with 135lbs on the bench or squat?
I remember back in college, my friends and I would warm up on the bench press and squat with a quick set of 10 reps at 135lbs. The “gym stud” standard being a minimum of a 45lb plate on each end of the bar.
It is hilarious to think how many times we did this routine, while lifting a fraction of what an elite power lifter did. No wonder we complained about shoulder and knee pain at 21 years old.
Repeat after me, “I will use embarrassingly light weights to warm-up my whole body.” Repeat that statement and live by it! I have learned from my past mistakes. Have you? I go through a great dynamic warm-up routine that I talk about in my book I Never Do Crunches.
It consists of a few body weight exercises at first. Simple movements like air squats and push ups. It concentrates on feeling out how your hips, shoulders and back feel that day. You should try to keep your form as virtuous as possible through each movement.
Graduate to a PVC pipe for different stretches and pulls for your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and back. Finally, grab the 45lb bar for multiple lifts and different pulls at various angles.
This only takes about 10-15 minutes, but makes a world of difference. You should do this, or a variance of this, each time you go to the gym regardless of the workout you are going to do.
The meat and potatoes of the warm-up looks a lot like the famous “Burgener Warm Up” from Coach Mike Burgener. (see a great video on it here )
Other exercises are taken from my track days: knee highs, butt-kickers and walking lunges with hands behind your head. These are great hip openers and a good way to get the blood flowing.
Performing multiple movements for the major joints and muscle groups allows you to be ready for nearly any exercise. It is a safer way to train than just starting out with 10 reps at 135lbs on the bench.
It also works on your nueromuscular feedback within your nervous system. Moving light weights with dynamic movement translates over well for much needed technique work.
Your whole body is properly fired up! The different points of flexion and extension during this routine have your body ready for anything you throw at it during training.
Now, question your own warm up routine. For instance, how do you get warmed up for the back squat? Do you concentrate only on your legs? You are going to load your spine and shoulders directly with a load of several hundred pounds…don’t you think you should show a little love to your upper body as well?
I have learned on my own from listening to my body, but also from great coaches like my dad as well as other athletes and coaches. Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can from other people. Proper training is individualized so you need to see what works best for you.
Educate yourself with books like, Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett. Dr. Starrett’s methodologies offer great advice to set up your own dynamic mobility routine that go far beyond just lying on a foam roller. His methodologies on the dynamic warm up are cutting edge, yet simple at their core.
Remember, warm up like a wuss to stay injury free! Use embarrassingly light weights in your warm up for a few minutes before you throw on the 45’s! Next week we will go further down the path to staying injury free. Here is a one word hint on what it will cover: EGO!