Pre-Workout Warm up
Why you should always warm up!
By: Andy Bartick
You’re walking into the gym. You know your workout; your mission
for that day. But, you’re feeling tight, not 100% in tune with your body- or
maybe your previous workout just didn’t go so well.
While there are many other factors involved in the why, odds are you’re
not warming up, or not doing it thoroughly or properly.
Here, we will take an in-depth look at the various methods of warming up
for exercise and how to decide the best application for you and your goals.
When we look at all the different methods you can choose from, and all
the varying benefits, it’s important that we take into consideration: our
goals, our current plan for reaching said goals, as well as oneself as an
- Are you on a path to gain, or to lose weight?
- Are you resistance training?
- Are you doing cardio?
- Are you training as an athlete to increase certain abilities? (i.e.
explosiveness, power/strength, speed, endurance etc.)
- What exactly are you training for?
- How long have you been consistently exercising, and how
- What bothers you, or doesn’t feel right throughout your workouts?
The final question above isn’t necessarily more important than the
others, but it is surely not to be overlooked. Take your time paying
attention to your body, make notes during your workouts if you have to.
As I’ve trained clients as well as myself over the years I’ve always made
sure, and always seen the benefit of making notes such as: skipping a few
sets or switching up an exercise due to pain or discomfort, cutting a
workout short from simple lack of energy to nausea etc.
Overall how we choose to warm up comes down to the areas in which we
would like to improve the most. Warming up properly can help with the
following and more: pre/intra/post workout pain and stiffness, muscle
soreness, injury prevention, form correction, increased range of motion
and much more. Let’s tap into specific methods and some scenarios in
which they might be applied.
Cardiovascular training: this can and should be a facet to any warm up
regardless of a person’s goals or condition. Performing 5-10 minutes of
aerobic activity in your target heart range prior to intense training helps
prepare your system by saturating your blood with oxygen throughout
your entire body. This will help increase your ability to perform your
various exercises over time and it can also do wonders for the mind-
Static Stretching: This is an easy to perform, old school method that is still
a staple in injury prevention and can also be used to increase muscle
flexibility and elasticity. Through consistency it can help reduce
inflammation and muscle soreness due to strength/resistance training.
The ideal stretch triggers what we call the stretch response which signals
the muscles to a deeper state of release and relaxation. This can be
achieved by holding a desired stretch for anywhere from 25-60 seconds.
Aim for a 7/10 on the intensity scale, we don’t want to have any actual
pain in our stretches(this can actually cause negative effects).
Dynamic Stretching: A common method for athletes like Olympic
Weightlifters, Wrestlers, Track&Field Athletes and the like, Dynamic
Stretching takes a functional approach to increasing range of motion and
flexibility within certain movement patterns. Unlike static stretching,
dynamic stretching uses constant motion throughout various movements
that target the desired area.
The most common would be the Up-and-Over,
utilizing a PVC pipe for its lightweight and mild flexibility to increase
flexibility and range of motion in the shoulders. The best approach with
any type of dynamic stretch is to start very slowly for each repetition,
gradually increasing speed until you can perform the movement at a
decent tempo with no pain or compromise in form or range of motion.
Foam Rolling: Foam rolling has gained loads of popularity in the modern
age of fitness, while its overall very simple there are a few commonly
made mistakes when using it as a warm up. When we are experiencing
pain or stiffness, foam rolling certainly can save the day and the workout
but your approach must be altered given the fact that you are about to
engage in intense exercise. The two biggest mistakes are tied into one
common misplaced goal: pain alleviation. People often do foam
rolling/release work with a deep intensity prior to exercise, digging deep
and breaking down muscle tissue such as that of your more painful
massages. They also tend to do this with the goal of rejuvenating their
entire body, minutes before they go tear it up in the gym. When you want
to increase muscle size, increase your strength, or your current capacity
to perform certain exercises(ie more reps at a given weight), then the last
thing you want is to breakdown your muscles with force prior to
stimulating them. It will more often than not inhibit your progress, and in
some cases you will be sore beyond words! On top of that, when you don’t
have a plan for the areas your trying to loosen up, you’re going to wind up
at the gym for 3-4 hours half of that just rolling out. Save the broad, more
intense release work for recovery methods outside the gym. Time
efficiency is key! Have a game plan, be consistent, keep your pain below
5/10, and you will see the benefits of foam rolling as a warm up in time!
Warming up is important, but don’t forget your workout which lies ahead.
Committing no more than 10-20 minutes pre-workout utilizing these
methods as a part of your routine will help you to optimize your
performance, recovery, and longevity so you can keep doing what you
- Jesse Westover