Specific warming up

16.19 Most people casually skip over warmup sets. As a result they are neither physically nor mentally prepared for the hard work sets to follow, and as a result very often mess up those sets.

16.20 ^ere are at least four important reasons for warming up each exercise adequately:

a. To get liquids pumped into your joint spaces and get the joints, tendons and muscles "oiled." ^is can be done without wearing yourself out by doing excessive work.

b. To rehearse the form of each exercise. Take all warmup reps and sets very seriously. Do each rep carefully. Practice perfect exercise form. Only once you are sure you have the groove perfectly entrenched should you proceed to your work set(s). Add extra warmup work if you feel you would benefit from more groove rehearsal. ^is especially applies to the more complicated exercises, e.g., deadlift and squat.

c. To practice concentration and mentally rehearse for the hard sets to come.

d. To prime the muscles and body as a whole for heavy work.

16.21 On the heels of building up concentration during the warmup stage of a workout, is the sustaining of it throughout the session. Review Chapter 9, in the segment Focus and Mental Ferocity, to help you deliver the focus needed to train intensively enough to get terrific results.

16.22 When rehearsing the groove of each exercise prior to the work set(s), you probably cannot do a good job if you use very comfortable weights. You need 75% or more of your work set weight on the bar. ^is especially applies to low-rep work. Here you have no room for technique error if a work set is to be a success. Preparation must be 100%. For the exercises you use your biggest weights in, you need multiple warmup sets. ^e final one will be with up to 90% or so of your work set(s) poundage, but for just a few precision reps. It would be for only a single rep if you were doing very low reps in your work set(s).

16.23 If you do not warm up well enough, especially for low-rep work, you may find that your second work set (with the same weight as for the first work set) may actually feel no harder, if not a tad less difficult than that first set. ^is assumes that you rested well between the first and second work sets. Your body needs something fairly taxing in order to prime itself for the very demanding work set(s) to follow.

16.24 You may find that a warmup set with 90% or so of your work set weight will sometimes feel as heavy if not heavier than the first work set. ^is is part of the process of preparing yourself for your heaviest sets, so do not be too alarmed if your warmup sets feel heavier than you think they should. So long as your form is good, and you are feeling fine, all should be well.

16.25 Dropping too hurriedly into your heaviest sets, under the assumption that you are saving energy, can backfire. It can make the work sets harder than they would have been had you warmed up in a better way and spent more energy on it. Some individual experimentation and experience will help you to discover what you need to do to best prepare yourself for your work sets for each exercise. ^is will almost certainly vary among different exercises and rep counts.

16.26 How much warming up you need to do specific to a given exercise partly depends on the type of training you are doing. It is also influenced by any history of injury that necessitates more warming up for a specific area. Any muscle tightness that might be present would need to be eased by gentle but specific stretching, and maintained by stretching between sets.

16.27 If you are using very slow cadence reps you may not need to do any specific warming up unless you have a weak link that needs special care and warmup work. ^e general warming up and the early reps of the relatively lightweight work set will probably suffice, and you may not even need to do any general warming up unless it is cold.

16.28 If you are training with little or no rest between your work sets, and doing exercises back to back, you need to do all your warmup work prior to the workout proper, or else you will break the sustained intensity of the workout by having to do specific warmup sets prior to each work set. But this is not a practical way to train in a busy gym because it necessitates several pieces of gear being yours for a sustained period.

16.29 For more traditional training, each exercise is a unit in which warmup and work sets are completed before moving onto the warmup sets for the next exercise. Traditional training does not restrain poundages by having you move quickly between sets and exercises, or by reducing rep speed to a very slow cadence. Because the weights are heavier, more care needs to be given to ensure that sufficient warming up work is done.

16.30 ^e lower the reps you are performing, the more warmup sets you need. ^e higher the reps of the work sets, the fewer warmup sets you may need. But in either case you do not need to do lots of reps in each warmup set. About half a dozen deliberate and controlled reps for the first set followed by fewer for subsequent warmup sets will suffice.

16.31 For example, consider the same person and three different squat workouts: 250 x 20 (1 set of 20 reps), 320 x 6 x 3 (3 sets of 6 reps), 360 x 1 x 5 (5 singles). ^e three different workouts, with warmup sets could be:

16.32 If in doubt, always do more warmup work rather than less, especially if you have had an injury in the area being trained, but experiment with less warming up (especially in terms of fewer reps) and see how you get on. But never put yourself at risk. It is always better to do too much warmup work than not enough, even if it takes a few pounds or a rep or two off your work set(s).

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