Mar 16, 2018
Before They Lift

Lifting weights before properly warming up can hamper a workout and lead to injury. That’s why establishing an effective warm-up routine is essential to helping athletes get the most out of their training. Here are some strategies for making that happen.

A proper warm-up primes your muscles for activity. According to Muscle & Fitness, if you skip a warm-up before lifting, you put yourself at risk for injury and get less from your workout because you’ll have stiff muscles and lack range of motion. Lifting requires shortening and lengthening muscles, so it’s important to start off by doing some exercises that activate this stretch reflex.

Overhead Lifts:

For exercises such as shoulder raises and overhead presses, it’s important to first loosen up the arms, shoulders, and pecs. An easy way to do this is with arm circles. Make big circles over your head and down to your waste to loosen and activate the right muscles. Do 10 circles forwards and 10 backwards, and repeat three to five times.

Bench Presses:

Bench presses work primarily the arms and chest, so you should focus on these areas during your warm-up. To loosen up the arms you can do some simple arms circles forwards and backwards. For the chest, put your arms out in front at shoulder height and then pull them back so that you form a T-shape. Then bring them forward again and repeat. Do this movement with controlled speed and repeat for four to six rounds of 20 seconds each, with about 20 seconds of rest in between.

Incline Barbell Presses:

To prepare for these exercises, use a resistance band to improve the rotation of your shoulder joints. Start by anchoring a band at elbow height while standing with your arms at you sides. For internal rotation, bend your arm at 90 degrees at your elbow, place a rolled up towel between your elbow and your body, and rotate your hand in towards your belly button. For external rotation, keep your arm bent in the same position, but start with the band pulling your hand across your body and then rotate your hand out to your side.


If you’re planning on doing squats, start by doing stationary running butt kicks. Do three to five rounds for 20 seconds each, with 20 seconds of rest in between. This will help to actively stretch the quads and improve circulation to your lower extremities. These areas need to be primed and ready before getting under the bar and squatting.


Before performing deadlifts, warm-up with stationary walking high-knee grabs. Do three to five rounds of 10 knee grabs on each leg, and rest for 30 seconds between each round. This will prepare the glutes, hips, and legs for the demands of the deadlift.


Another warm-up tactic to consider is what is known as “ramping-up.” Dr. John Rusin, contributor to, describes this as “doing a specific number of sets of an exercise, each set decreasing in reps but increasing in load, before hitting your work sets.”

Ramping-up should be done on top of a regular warm-up, and it will help prepare athletes as they increase weight. If done properly, athletes will get more out of their workout and protect their muscles from injury.

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