The goal of a warm-up is to prepare you for the upcoming physical task. It is comprised of both general warm-up and specific warm-up.
A general warm-up is doing any activity that is different than what you’re going to do for your workout. An example is doing 5 minutes of low intensity cardio before you start doing specific warm-ups for squats. In general, we don’t recommend doing any general warm-ups, provided you’re able to start your specific warm-up without any issues. While it is very popular to perform activities like foam rolling, stretching etc. The available scientific data suggests that these activities do not reduce risk of injury, pain, or improve performance in the workout. That being said, if you prefer to do 5 minutes of light general warm-ups like low intensity cardio or even stretching because you like the way it feels, then go for it.
A specific warm-up is doing the same activity (or very similar) as the upcoming activity and uses gradually increasing intensity. An example would be to perform a couple of sets of squats with the empty bar first. Progressively adding weight to the bar until you reach your target weight.
How to put this into practice
Our recommended warm-up is to perform multiple sets of the specific exercise with the empty bar until you feel prepared (mentally and physically) to start adding weight. Let’s look at an example on how to warm up for a working set of 5x100kg.
- Squat 3-5 sets of 5 reps with the empty bar
- Squat 1×5 with 40kg
- Squat 1×5 with 60kg
- Squat 1×3 with 85kg
- Start your first set of 1×5 with 100kg.
Brooks, Fahey “Exercise Physiology” (4th ed 2005)
Racinias, “Muscle Contraction and Temperature” (http://www.aspetar.com/muscle-temperature.aspx?lang=en)
Racinias, “Temperature and neuromuscular function” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (2010) (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01204.x)