You are currently viewing Warming Up Protocol Made Simple

Warming Up Protocol Made Simple

Why Warm Up?

  1. It allows us to prepare the targeted muscles.
  2. Warming up prepares the joints, tendons and ligaments involved.
  3. It preps our CNS (Central Nervous System) for the main set.
  4. It’s technique practice for the main set.
  5. Warming up prepares us mentally to work up to the main set.
  6. It accomplishes steps 1-5 above without creating unnecessary fatigue.
warming-up single leg rdl Hitomi Kenyon

How to Warm Up

This is an example of the first set of a compound exercise such as a Barbell Squat, Barbell Romanian Deadlift, Barbell Bench Press or the like:

  • Take a weight that is about 50% of the weight you will use on your main set. If your main set is 50kg, then start with 20-25kgs as the first warm up set. Do 10 reps of that set.  Rest 1:00.
  • The next set, use about 70% of the weight on your main set and do 6 reps. Rest 1:00. 
  • The set after that, use about 80% of the weight on your main set and do 3 reps. Rest 1:00
  • For your final warm up set, use 90-95% of the weight on your main set and do 1 rep. Rest for whatever the prescribed rest time is for the main set (this is usually between 2:00-3:00) and then begin your main set. 
warming-up chest supported row Markus Winter

For further clarity…

Should I Warm Up Like this for every Set?

No.  We recommend that you warm up like this for your first set of a heavy compound movement. 

For example, if your first set is Barbell RDL (Romanian Deadlift) then a 4-set Warm up is ideal.  Say that your next exercise after Barbell RDLs is Pull Downs, which is a vertical pulling movement.  Since your entire body is warmed up and fully in “Training Mode” from both your warmup sets and main sets of RDL, I would recommend you do 2-3 sets to warm up for your Pull Downs. 

  1. 50% of your main set weight for 10 reps
  2. 70% of your main set weight for 6 reps
  3. 80% of your main set for 3 reps.

That should do the trick. 

For Different Movements

If your next exercise on this day were an Overhead Press, since it is a vertical pushing movement it would require about 3 sets of warm up, very much like the warm up you did for the Pull Downs above:

  1. 50% of your main set weight for 10 reps
  2. 70% of your main set weight for 6 reps
  3. 80% of your main set for 3 reps.

For Similar Movements

If, however, the next exercise after Pull Downs were Barbell Rows, which is a horizontal pulling movement, you may only need 1-2 warmup sets, because the target muscles on both vertical and horizontal pulling movements are the back, rear deltoids, biceps, and forearms, so they will already be prepared for the Barbell Rows. 

In the case that you have pushing or pulling movements back-to-back, as in the case of Pull downs and Rows, you could do 1 warm up and be good to go.  If you would like to err on the side of safety, then 2 warmups will do.

In the case of 1 warm up:

  • Approximately 70% of the main set for 6 reps will do

In the case of 2 warmups:

  1. 60% of the main set for 8 reps
  2. 80% of the main set for 3 reps should do it

For Nearly Identical Movements

If the movement is nearly identical to the previous movement, as in the case of Barbell Bench Press to Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, you may even bypass the warmup set, as the only change in the movement is the implement (barbells to dumbbells) and the angle (flat to an incline of 30-45 degrees in most cases). 

What about Bodyweight Exercises?

This will depend on what kind of bodyweight exercises you are doing.  In the case of Chin Ups, you can do half the amount you will do on your main set if you are doing strictly bodyweight chin ups.  I would do one set like this and then go into the main set. 

warming-up chin ups

If you are doing bodyweight dips, I would approach it the same as the chin ups, one set of half the reps of the main set.

If you are doing lower-body bodyweight exercises like Hockey Squats, Single Leg Box Squats or the like, you can decrease the range of motion of the exercise to a level that makes the warm up sets easier.  In the case of Hokey squats, you could use 2 yoga blocks and warm up each leg for 10 reps and then use only 1 block or none for the main set.  With the Single Leg Box Squats, you could use a higher box for the warmup set and do 10 reps.  Then on the main set, use a lower box. 

This article is my take on warmups, so please use it as a guide and find out what works best for you.  If you have any questions, let me know.  You can contact me here.  I am very happy to help. 

Yours in optimal training,