Weightlifting Tips -- Warm Ups

The essential weightlifting tips concern warming-up correctly and performing reps correctly. We explain how to do both. It's critical to understand how to do them correctly.

Otherwise, you will be in danger of straining a muscle or spraining connective tissue. When executed well, resistance training is safe.

On this page, we amplify what we wrote in Exercising Safely (for strength) about specific warm-ups for strength training.

Please also read and follow the principles on that page. You will find the direct link to that page on our Sitemap/Index, listed at the bottom of the menu/navigation buttons.

Specific Warm Ups

In part 2 of these tips [the direct link to that page is given further down this page], we amplify what we wrote about doing a strength training rep perfectly. The most important weightlifting tips concern warming-up correctly and performing reps perfectly. We explain how to do both.

Please obtain your physician's approval before beginning to practice resistance training. Specific warm-ups ease the transition from your general warm-up to your routines or from one routine to the next.

Do a specific warm up at the beginning of every routine.

Unless you are a master trainer using very heavy weights, it is neither advisable nor necessary to do one before the beginning of every exercise. To review the terminology used on this page, see the main Strength Training page. You will find the direct page link listed on our site map/index.

There are no more important weightlifting tips than those concerning specific warm-ups. The purpose of a specific warm-up is to increase the amount of blood in the muscles and connective tissues that you'll be using while performing the exercises that make up your routine.

There is no one ideal way to perform specific warm ups that every trainee will like. Usually, trainees simply use a lighter weight than that used during work sets. Often, they simply perform a few more reps than will be performed during work sets. Beginning and intermediate trainees should avoid warming up casually or instinctively.

Paying attention to details is the way to become an expert.

Note that the problem with respect to warm-up sets is similar to the problem with respect to work sets. Both require balance.

With respect to warm-up sets, it's important to do sufficient work to get properly warmed-up without doing so much work and getting so tired that one's performance on work sets is undermined.

With respect to work sets, it's important to work intensely in order to stimulate overcompensation without doing so much work that one's form deteriorates, that one fails prematurely, or that one taxes one's recovery system too severely.

These similar problems yield similar solutions. Blocking blood flow to a muscle is called "occlusion." Occlusion causes strength increases by recruiting more muscle fibers within the target muscle. When occlusion ends, blood flow to the target muscle increases.

Because of its effectiveness, we recommend that intermediate trainees use occlusion training on work sets. [We explain how in part 2 of these tips. The page link is awaiting you near the bottom of this page.]

Since it is an intensity technique and since the neuromuscular systems of beginners are not ready to handle intensity techniques, we do not recommend that beginners use it on work sets.

However, we recommend that everyone try using occlusion training to ensure effective warm-ups. Again, of all these tips none are more important than obtaining an effective warm-up. [This specific way of using it we borrowed from Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson who write for "Ironman" magazine.] Here's how:

Let's imagine that you are going to do a routine that involves using a multijoint exercise such as, say, incline presses. Suppose that you are scheduled to use a 100 pound barbell on your first work set. What's the best way to warm up effectively?

Using a 60 pound barbell, do 5 full-range reps followed without pausing by 5 more reps through just the bottom two-thirds of the range of motion. Do not do any lock-outs on these partial reps ("power pulses").

After resting 1 minute, use an 80 pound barbell to do 3 full-range reps and then immediately do 3 more reps through just the bottom two-thirds of the range of motion. Rest 1 minute and begin your first work set.

Perform each rep of the warm up fairly slowly, no faster than 4 seconds up and 4 seconds down. As you warm up, focus your mind on thinking blood into your target muscle group (your chest in this example).

You should actually feel the blood flow increase in your pectoral muscles after this warm-up.

(If you don't feel the increased blood flow, perform the reps more slowly and concentrate harder. You may also increase the reps on the second warm-up set to 4 full-range reps and 4 partials.)

Warm up effectively

(1) Using about 60% of your work set weight, perform 5 full-range reps followed immediately by 5 partial-range reps.

(2) Rest one minute.

(3) Using about 80% of your work set weight, perform 3 full-range reps followed immediately by 3 partial-range reps. Rest one minute and begin the first work set of your routine.

With your chest muscles warmed-up and ready-to-fire, you are physically primed for your first work set of incline presses.

With a good general and specific warm-up under your belt, you are ready to attack your first work set!

You may finish your chest routine without any additional warm-ups.

If, later in your workout, you switch to a second routine such as one for back or triceps or calves, you should do a specific two set warm-up for that muscle group in a similar way.

Other pages on strength training or weightlifting tips

In this weightlifting, strength training section of our site, we have the following pages:

1. Workout Protein Shakes

2. Strength/Weight Training (main page)

3. Strength Training Orientation

4. Weightlifting Exercises

5. Weightlifting Program Beginners

6. Weightlifting Tips, Part 1 (this page)

7. Weightlifting Tips, Part 2

8. Exercising Safely

9. Weightlifting Routines (Intermediates)

You will find the direct links to those pages on our Sitemap/Index, situated at the bottom of the Menu/Navigation buttons.

Here are some of those links.

The first link below has more Tips and Work Set Reps, and the second link is about Protein Shakes.

Weight Lifting Tips

Protein Shakes

Alternatively, the link at the very bottom of this page leads to the STRENGTH TRAINING main page, which is the first page in this section of our website.

Recommended books for weightlifting tips

The books are available at some good bookstores, especially Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk usually in Kindle and paperback form, sometimes as hardbacks.

If you found the weightlifting tips useful, these books are very excellent further reading.


  • Jim Wendler, 5/3/1

On most pages of our website, we aim to recommend the best books available according to the topic of each page.

We endeavor to make the best suggestions based on experience and our many years of work and research in health and fitness.

This NHS (National Health Service) article has useful tips with photographs of warm ups before exercise.

NHS Tips about the importance of warm ups.

Good weightlifting tips for improving squat technique

A link to the external video, for those who might want to save it.

The page is now complete. We hope that you found our warm up tips useful and that they will help on your journey to health and strength.

Tips part 1