Warming Up To Get The Most Out OF Your Strength Sessions

Warming up is essential for longevity in training and aiding with performance. By utilising a proper warmup protocol we can ensure better performance during our workouts and reduce the chance for injuries.
Our warm-ups should include a few key compenents and take between 10-20 minutes.

General Warm Up

The purpose of the general warm-up is to increase the heart rate of the body. By increasing the heart rate you will prepare the body to engage in the rest of the warm-up, reduce soft-tissue injury risk and improve performance in the rest of the workout. 

The goal during the general warm-up should be some low intensity exercise that will gradually increase the heart rate. A protocol of 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardio (biking, rowing, skiing) should be enough for most people.


After our general warm-up we will want to focus on mobility to aid in increasing our range of motion and improving blood flow to the required muscles. This includes using foam rollers and massage balls to apply gentle pressure to aid in myo-facial release.

During our mobility for our sessions we should keep in mind which muscles we require more range of motion on during the particular sessions.

  • For squats: quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, or calves.
  • For bench press: lats,upper back, pecs, triceps, or spinal erectors.
  • For deadlift: hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, or inner thigh.

Dynamic Stretches

The aim of the dynamic stretching is to once again increase the end range of motion for the joint. During our dynamic stretching we want to reach the end point of our joint range of motion and hold briefly for 2-5 seconds and release, this will be repeated 10-30 times depending on the stretch. 

It is important not to hold the stretch for too long (10-30+seconds) as static stretching before a workout has been shown to decrease performance.

  • For squats and deadlifts: Downward dog to inchworm, world’s greatest stretch, leg swings, knee hug to hamstring stretch, leg cradle to lateral lunge.
  • For bench press: Banded pull aparts, dowel pullover, cat to cows, couch stretch.

Muscle Activation

Muscle activation involves firing up the prime and stabilising muscles to help engage the correct muscles during the workout. The goal is to help activate these muscles but not pre-fatigue them.
Choose 1-2 muscle activation exercises for each of the main movements for the day and perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps with a light to medium resistance.
Make sure you are using a controlled tempo and with strict form to help activate the correct muscles.

  • For squats: glute maximus, glute medius, core.
    (Band squats, clamshells, monster walks)
  • For bench press: rotator cuff, upper back,  rear delt, serratus anterior
    (Band pull aparts, scapula pushup, wall slides)
  • For deadlift: trunk, glute medius, glutes.
    (Banded good mornings, monster walks, glute bridges)

Movement Specific/Barbell Warm Up

It is still crucial to warm-up with the barbell for our specific movements. These warm-ups will help ingrain correct movement patterns and can allow the lifter to feel if there are any other key issues that may need to be addressed.

Make sure to move the warm-up weights in the exact same way you would a heavier weight.

  1. 10 reps with the empty bar or bodyweight
  2. 5-8 reps with 30% of working weight
  3. 5-8 reps increasing weight by 15-20% until at 80% working weight.