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3 Steps To Warm Up For The Perfect Workout

Warming up for a workout is more important than you might think.

If you want to improve your performance and have an awesome workout, the fastest way to do so is to learn how to warm up before lifting. 

This article will cover 3 simple tips for warming up for the perfect workout.

In This Article

how to warm up before lifting - sprinter

1. Start With A Full-body Warm-up

This is an opportunity to move blood to the muscles in your body, allowing for improved movement during training. 

It’s been shown that implementing an adequate warm-up before strength training can reduce injuries. 

Also, it’s a chance for you to slowly get into the right headspace for your training session. 

Learning how to warm up before lifting properly and consistently gives you a chance to clear your mind of your daily stressors. Take a few moments to reflect and focus on yourself for the next 45-90 minutes. 

Below are examples of my preferred general warm-up methods: 

  • 3-5 minutes of rowing via a rowing machine
  • 3-5 minutes of plyometric exercise work (ex: jumping jacks, skaters & bodyweight squats)
  • 5-10 minutes walking at a brisk pace while listening to one of my favorite podcasts (entrepreneurs on fire)
Note from Ant: These are my preferred methods because I enjoy them and NOT because they’re inherently better than other forms (ex: running, jogging, or anything else). Do what you enjoy because that will increase your chances of sticking with it over the long haul. 

2. Increase Mobility With Foam Rolling

There will be some days when you won’t feel your best. A particular muscle(ss) may feel tight or maybe a bit achy from a previous workout. 

This is a normal part of the process.

To perform and feel at your best sometimes, adding other forms of SMR therapy, like foam rolling, can be helpful. 

What Is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling (aka self-myofascial release/SMR) is a manual massage therapy using firm or dense objects such as foam rollers, golf balls, or tennis balls. 

This form of self-myofascial release can be done on your own without any assistance from others. 

how to foam roll calves

The fascia around your muscle is a thin layer where fascial adhesions can build up over time from lack of physical activity or can occur due to trauma (ex: injury, surgery, etc.). 

So, when these adhesions occur in your body’s soft tissue, it can lead to limited mobility and decreased strength in those areas. 

How To Use a Foam Roller Properly

Here are a few essential tips to benefit from foam rolling while avoiding injuring yourself:

  1. Center the foam roller over the muscle that’s stiff
  2. Apply light pressure (at first) by shifting a portion of your body weight
  3. Roll slowly and at a consistent tempo in both directions
  4. Focus on your breathing if the muscle is very sore
  5. Repeat for 2 to 3 sets & adjust pressure as needed

Depending on the muscle(s) you are attempting to foam roll, the process will be the same, but the positioning may vary. 

Foam Rolling Benefits

3. Finish Warming Up With A Movement-Specific Routine

Understanding how to warm up before lifting is crucial to creating good training habits and preventing future injury. 

A movement-specific warm-up, aka a dynamic warm-up, is a simple and effective way to practice the exercise movement patterns for the day. 

So, let’s say you’re workout for the day is a lower body-focused workout. Your main exercises might be barbell squats and barbell Romanian deadlifts.

Below is an example of how to warm up before lifting using a movement-specific exercise.

Main Lift → Barbell Squat

barbell back squat

Dynamic Warm-upDumbbell Goblet Squat Using Lightweight

dumbbell goblet squat dynamic warm up

The goal of a dynamic warm-up (in my opinion) is to check in with your body to see how everything is feeling/working regarding the specific muscles you plan to train. 

Additionally, it’s also a chance to engage further & activate those specific muscles before you move into your working set weight. 

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Warm Up Before Lifting

Here are some frequently asked questions we’ve compiled around how to warm up before lifting based on others like you! 

Should I Foam Roll Before Or After a Workout?

Whichever you prefer. Before. After. Or both! Realistically, the deciding factor will come down to your priorities and timing. 

I prefer to foam roll before a workout because it allows me to do two things:

  1. It gives me several minutes to get into the right headspace before lifting
  2. Help me perform a body scan to see if anything, in particular, feels “off.”

However, it’s been widely shown that foam rolling after a workout can reduce the time you experience D.O.M.S. while improving overall recovery post-workout. 

how to foam roll back

Does Warming Up Help You Lift More Weight? 

No. Warming up before will not magically help you increase your numbers and lift bigger weights. 

With that being said, foam rolling before a workout can improve your range of motion within a given muscle. 

So, by improving your mobility and range of motion, you can effectively train more efficiently, which could lead to better long-term results if done consistently. 

Final Thoughts

Now, you can confidently go about your day-to-day with an understanding of what a proper pre-workout warm-up looks and feels like. 

In this post, we covered…

  1. Why perform a general full-body warm-up (and why it can enhance your workout)
  2. The general benefits of foam rolling on recovery & performance
  3. How to warm up before lifting using dynamic movements (before your workout)

Now go out and apply one of the concepts you learned today in your next workout & compare how you felt before, during, and after a previous workout. 

As always, I’m here to give you practical and sustainable training strategies that can be used and replicated anytime. 

Stay strong my friend!

author avatar
Ant Mancini Founder, BS, CPT
I'm Ant, and I've worked in the health and fitness industry since 2010. I've successfully trained & helped hundreds of people get stronger, feel & move better. I love coaching others to their strongest self, and I'm pumped you're here.
Strength Daily does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.