Warming Up Before a Gym Session
When done correctly, a warm up can give you a better workout, faster progress, and result in fewer injuries. The specific warm up required will depend on your areas of focus. For this reason, we have broken down warm ups in accordance with strength, muscle growth or muscular endurance training.
Warming Up For Strength (1-6 reps)
‘Strength’ means moving the most weight you can. Maximal strength results from the size and number of Type IIB muscle fibres, the most sensitive of all of your fibres, and your nervous system’s ability to activate them. Warming up with 10 reps or more will cause your body to release lactic acid into the blood stream which will impair the nervous system's ability to activate high threshold motor units. For this reason, keep reps in your warm sets at six or below. The closer you are working to one rep max during your real sets, the more warm up sets you require. Do about 3-5 warm up sets, with progressively heavier weights, but make sure you do not fatigue yourself leading up to your real sets. Muscles remain at optimum contraction length in a resting position. Stretching them, you cause them to go into a suboptimal contraction length, temporarily weakening the fibres. Save your stretching for after your workout, or stretch the muscle opposite to the muscle you are going to use if you feel the urge to stretch. This can make you stronger. In the case that the muscle is particularly tight, however, stretching it before training can be beneficial.
Warming Up For Hypertrophy (6-12 reps)
With adding muscle size as your goal, your warm up will be similar to a strength warm up. Depending on how long you have been training, your work sets, i.e. the sets after the warm up, should involve reps of 6-12 reps. Keep the amount of warm up sets at six or below to minimise lactic acid buildup.
Warming Up For Endurance (12+ reps)
Generally only one set would be needed for an endurance focussed warm up. If you are performing an unfamiliar exercise, extra warm up sets can be of benefit. This warm up set lets you assess the potential for any injuries from a particular exercise. A general warm up can be of help in this instance, but it is not necessary.
Why Should Bodybuilders Warm Up?
Appropriate warm ups will give you better workouts, faster progress, and fewer injuries. Regardless of your aims, use a general warm up at the start of your training program. 10-15 minutes of walking, rowing, bike, treadmill or stepper, before training, will increase your core temperature, blood circulation and heart rate, priming you for a more rewarding workout.