How to Warm Up for Weightlifting Exercises

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Just like how you would warm up an engine in freezing cold weather, warming up before working out helps your body gradually prepare for the demands of the strenuous workout ahead. Warming up slowly increases your heart rate, improves blood circulation in your ligaments, tendons and muscles, and increases your body temperature. In addition, it also prepares the joints and your central nervous system for the workout while preventing fatigue.

Two Ways to Warm Up

In weight training, there are two different types of warm-up exercises, the General Pre-Workout Warm Up and the Specific Pre-Exercise Warm Up.

General Pre-Workout Warm Up refers to the overall warm up done before the actual workout begins. This may include anything from stretching to light cardio/aerobics or foam rolling. On the other hand, Specific Pre-Exercise Warm Up refers to warm up sets done before the actual weight training exercising. Specific Pre-Exercise Warm Up may include progressive bench presses.

Proper Way to Warm Up

Step 1: Start with a single set of light exercise. We recommend just using a bar with no weight on it or light dumbbells. If you prefer machine exercises, do not put additional weight on the machine. Do 10 to 15 reps.

Step 2: Using around 55% to 60% of the actual weight you use for weight training, do 8 reps of work sets. Start off with a light weight added on the bar or on the machine.

Step 3: Gradually increase the weight to around 70% to 75% of the actual weight you usually use during weight training. Do one set with five reps.

Step 4: Do 3 reps of weight, increasing the weight to approximately 80% to 85% of the actual weight of the work sets you will be using in training.

For the final warm up, increase the weight to 90% to 95% of the actual weight of the work sets. After warming up, give yourself time to rest before you begin your first work set.

Resting in between warm-up sets is also important. Although there is no actual set amount of time it takes to rest in between warm-ups, give yourself 45 to 60 seconds in between warm-up sets.

Factors to Consider Before Warming Up

Your exercise routine will be different from others so it’s important that your warm-up exercises are adjusted according to your strength level, your experience, the rep range, and intensity of your training.

Strength Level

If you are lifting heavier weights, you will have to do more warm-up exercises so the muscles are given enough time to adjust to the intensity of the workout. On the other hand, if you are using light weights, then you will need less warming up.


Beginners are typically weaker in strength so they will require less time warming up. Advanced trainees, on the other hand, need heavier warm-up sets.

Rep Range and Intensity of Training

Your warm up exercises should be adjusted based on the rep range and the intensity of your training. This means, if you are training for enhanced strength and endurance, you will need to do more warm-up sets and vice versa.

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