Warming-Up for Strength & Muscle

The purpose of the warm-up has been muddied and confused. If general fitness is the goal, then doing mobility circuits and some foam rolling before you work out is fine. But if the goal is to build high levels of strength and muscle, then a warm-up like that can be excessive and even counterproductive.

Although mobility circuits may make you feel good, research shows that dynamic movement drills (resembling the movement planned for that day) aimed at increasing tissue temperature is the deciding factor in increasing performance. This just means we need to move through a complete range of motion with some resistance or load repeatedly to warm up and prepare the body for lifting.

We don't need to work on achieving new levels of mobility. Warming up the posterior chain for heavy pulls can be as simple as spending a minute or two unlocking and extending the hips with a resistance band pulling on you.

Posterior Chain Warm-Up

Attach the band to something behind you, step through it, pull it all the way up, and do 40-60 slow controlled movements where you just touch your end-range of flexion.

Other methods to get all the tissues in the body warm are medicine ball slams and loaded carries or pushes. Here's a favorite warm-up circuit that takes about 30 seconds and will get you ready for a hard lift:

30 Second Dynamic Warm-Up

The modified Hindu press-up done at the start helps warm the entire upper body and also touches the limits of thoracic extension, while the kneeling medicine ball slams prepare you for any overhead movements. The plate push can be done on any mat or towel that will slide on your gym floor. It's used to make sure the hips, trunk, and the rest of the lower body are prepped for the intensity of training.

As for the foam roller and long list of mobility drills, save them for after. The workout will reveal where you need to focus those efforts anyway.

Related:  PR in 2 Weeks, Guaranteed

Related:  Foam Rolling Facts and Fiction