Warm-up strategy for weigh-lifting

I was allways wondering is it better to warm-up for the lifting with (a) more reps and set with lower weights, or (b) to progresivly build-up weights and lower the reps (something like pyramidal method ). Here is an example for bench press (100kg 1RM):

(a) 30kg/12 40kg/12 50kg/10 (90kg/3 90kg/3 90kg/3) -> main sets
(b) 40kg/12 60kg/8 80kg/5 (90kg/3 90kg/3 90kg/3) -> main sets

Is this dependent on rep scheme? When I use higher rep bracket (>5RM) I use method a, but when I use maximal method (1-3RM) I use b warm-up type. I find that jumping right to the max is contraproductive, and actually I cannot lift „real max“, because I am not stimulated (muscle potentiation) for the „real deal“!
Opinions, thoughts?

More sets, less reps - especially as you get stronger.

With weight progression? Something like pyramidal loading? Can this mess with main sets, because it spreads volume over a intensity zones (60-70, … 80-90, +90 %1RM)? Can, you please post some example (on bench press of 1RM of 100kg)? Tnx!

I was always told to get to my “training” weight as soon as possible and not waste time pyramiding up, as it would only sap my strength. His thinking was to do maybe 3 warm-up sets with “very light weight”, adding arm circles and such. Then one “prep set” with a moderately heavy weight to get your nervous system ready. It looks like this exactly…
1x 15 reps- 95 lbs
side arm circles- forward, backwards- 10 reps
front arm circles- clock and counter clock-10 reps
1x 12 reps- 95 lbs (rest about one minute)
1x 5 reps- 135 lbs
arm circles again- this time 5 reps
1x 3 reps- 275 “Prep set” (2-3 min rest)
1x 3 reps- 320 lbs (3 minutes rest)
1x 2 reps- 345-370 lbs

I do loads of sets or 1-2 reps with a few complex lifts like: powerclean> squat> jerk> overhead squat at a low weight.

Or perhaps snatch first pull + shrug>snatch 2nd pull only (e.g. no catch)>hang snatch>overhead squat

Then i do a few deadlift shrugs with my work set weight just to get used to the feeling of the first pull. If i am doing Snatch I’ll also do a few drop snatches with a weight i can manage just to get used to that deep bottom position. I use quite a bit of rest in between all these warmups and will do a few dynamic stretches (claps, back slaps, rows with just the bar etc) in between each set.

I’m not an expert in these things (e.g. I don’t coach weightlifters) but i find this helps me to be ready to rock with the work sets.


Exactly! When performing your 1-5 rep max, you’ll keep the reps lower with more sets. For example: 62/3, 70/3, 80/3, 92/3, or
55/5, 65/3, 75/2, 82/1, 90/1, MAX/1-3. Hope this helps.

Agreed that this is good at the strength level you cite. Elite PLers generally do something like (as reported in PLUSA’s columns by many lifters) the above plus
750 max attempt

Since the body seems to need some adjustment to that kind of weight.

One thing oft-overlooked is the general warmup needed to attack big weights. Dan John suggests squatting first with at least light weight regardless of the rest of the w/o. So the body in that case is more warmed up for big weights. And I suggest replacing “warmed up” with “heated up” since it takes a higher level of, well, hotness to go after a 400 bench then it did to do 185 when that was your max.

I was going to ask this anyway – if a sprinter needs an hour to get hot, why not lifters? Do the weights get you ready to go faster than other warmups (IMO, hell yes)? How can you tell when you’re hot enough? Are we actually spending too little time warming up? There’s a tradeoff between needing to get ready and spending your energy envelope on that. How much is needed?

This is the exact scheme I used before summer! I used step method (increasing load but keeping reps: 50/5 70/5 90/5), when I camed to main set I stick with them 3-5 sets!

This is very simmilar method I use now! 2-3x40kg/12-15 1x75kg/5 3x90kg/3
This method allows greater work in one intensity zone, thus better adaptation, right?
I see that there is different approaches here… maybe it is dependend on general warm-up and strength level! My general warm-up for the gym is verey thourough, about 30mins! Sometimes people asks me “You spent a lot of time warming up!”
Basically it consists of:

  1. General warm-up
  • Running in place, arm circles, hip cirlces, jumping jacks, butt-kicks, skips etc (easy fascion)
  • Joint rotations (head circles, shoulders, hips etc ) - You can call it dynamic flexib but here we call it vezbe oblikovanja
  • easy static strecthing
  • core work (isometrics), couple of push-ups
  1. Specific warm-up
  • Only with the bar x 5reps: arm curls+press, squat, good-morning, lunges (normal, crossed, wide), overhad squat, rowing, DL, maybe some jumping etc

On each stage 2-3 sets of >10reps with <50% weight plus one for facilitation, and then main sets! This is general pattern and sometimes I change it for particular exercise etc…

i am just jogging 5 min, a short stretching and then i would do ONE set for arm-up, 20 reps, little or nearly no weight - just for the movement.
And then: Start as fast as you can to train hard. Warm up isnt so imortant, cause you wont get a muscle-injury by lifting(even not in the snatch). BUT: focus on stretching after workout-that very very important.

I disagree. The warm-up is extremely important. To me, that’s enough said. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!

of course it isnt unimportant, but you cant compare it to your stretching after workout.
And: have you ever injured in your strenght program?
I think: if you are doing 2 or 3 sets for warm up; you wont have the power to train effecienty, cause you are too tired.

You’re absolutely right. Don’t compare the two. They’re completely unrelated. Preparation for the workout is still very important. If the athlete can’t handle a good warm-up, they’re not a very good athlete. This is one of the reasons that work capacity is so important. It’s be nice to say, we don’t do warm-ups because we feel they drain our fast-twitch fibers and power. We want to show up to the track or gym, blaze a few sprints or lifts, and leave. In reality, it doesn’t work this way. A good warm-up is critical.

No, but I have seen many, many athletes/lifters injured in their strength training.

My opinion is that warm-up is more important that stretching after! After all, after the stretch you go under the shower, but after the warm-up you go under the bar…
Actually, I slightly injured my wrist while doing clean!
You warm-up method seems like Metzner method… but worse! He suggested doing thourough general warm-up and then jumping into the main SET (not sets)! And you are even avoiding warm-up… no offense!
Actually, I think that stretching after is overrated! If you use full ROM exercises in the lifts, then there is a streching! Maybe putting some emphasis on hip flexors and hams but thats it…

I must notice that there are two approches to warm-up sets here at the site (somethink like a and b type I posted in first message)

1. Doing 2-3 sets of easy weight with 10-15 reps, and then jumping to main weight.
Example (for 100kg 1RM bench): 40kg/15 50kg/10 3x90kg/3
For: Greater warm-up of the muscles involved in lift, because of larger work done (with easy weight). Doing exercise volume in just one intensity zone (in this example 90+%), thus greater adaptation! Can be used when general warm-up is lacking!
Against: Jumping to main set. Psychological under warm-up. There is no muscular potentiation/facilitation. You may think that you can lift main set easily, but it is contrary… it is maybe harder!
Usage: It can be used with begginers, who lift 8RM and easyer weight. For people with mediocre strength

2. Doing a lot of sets with small number of reps. Weight is progresivly increased till main weight. Example (for 100kg 1RM bench press): 50kg/5 60kg/3 70kg/2 80kg/1 3x90kg/3
For:Muscle potentiation/facilitation. Psychological warm-up. Easyer lo lift main-weights
Against:There is volume spread over all intensity zones - something like pyramidal method. Muscles are maybe un-apropriate warmed up, so there is a need for thourough general warm-up
Usage:Can be used with people with great strength and who perform great general warm-up. Usage when lifting greater load than 5RM

Conclusion: Pick the method that most suits you, yor strength level, genral warm-up routine etc.
But I am going to make a hybrid or combination of the two, which takes all the good stuf from the them! It could be called duxx warm-up method® :slight_smile: :cool: or middle-ground method hehe
Example for 100kg 1RM bench:
2x40kg/15 50kg/3 65kg/2 80kg/1 3x90kg/3

Use 2-3 sets with 50% 1RM weight with more than 10 reps. Then use couple of sets with small rep range (max 3) and progresivly increase weight till the main sets. The weight increase should not exceed 20% 1RM (or maybe even less).

I love this quote!!

Really or sarcastic? Thanks SK! :cool: