Proper Warm Up Exercises for A Lean Body

The purpose of warm up exercises is to prepare your body for a tiring activity. it might be for resistance training, cardiovascular training or even endurance training. But for people who want to lose weight or get lean, are your warm up exercises preparing you to do your best and get results you want? This article discusses more.

A few years back as a beginner in working out, I see two types of people in the gym: the people who do cardio before resistance training and the people who stretch before doing resistance training. A beginner and a shy type as I was I followed both types of warm up over the years and I thought I felt fine until I discovered that in order to get a lean, sexy body, neither of them makes my resistance training very efficient.

Cardio as Warm Up?

Cardio as a warm up has been "the norm" for most people I see in gyms. Curious, I began reading articles and studies online and got the idea of:

If you want to progressively get better in your workouts and build muscle, in my opinion cardio is not the way to go. It warms up to a certain extent, but won't prepare the muscles for a beating and wearing down.

The commonly used cardio as a form of warm up exercise is steady state cardio, where you exert a consistent amount of effort for a period of time. If you are short on time, this is not an option. High Intensity Cardio is a different story. It can warm you up quick, but you will feel tired before you can lift, which is probably not a good idea,

Is Stretching a Good Warm Up Idea?

Another of the "norm" I see in most gyms without instructors are that people stretch the muscles they are going to use. Is this as effective as we think it is?

This concept is better explained by Rusty Moore in his post: Hate to Stretch? Don't Have Time to Stretch? I Have Good News! This article has studies that prove that:

  • Stretching to prevent injury is a myth; in fact it increases the risk for injuries.
  • If you want to get stronger, stretching is a no-no because it makes you weak.
  • Stretching 30 seconds a day will increase flexibility better than doing it often through out the day.

Side Note: I never liked stretching anyway; Painful and counterproductive as studies have proven.

Warm Up Exercises You Might Want to Try

If you are after a lean body, you must lift weights as efficiently as possible. Do the "lighter" version of the lifts you will be going to do. If you are doing chest and back for example, your warm ups can be half of the normal weight you can carry for a few sets. Body weights can also be considered.

Here are some pointers:

  • mind-muscle-link is important in every lift so even if you lift 50% of your normal lift, you have to condition or sort of pretend that you are lifting heavy. As an added bonus it increases strength over time.
  • Always do the full range of motion. Focus on contracting and flexing the muscle.
  • Do not aim for the "pump". Just because it is a lighter version of what you will be lifting doesn't mean you should move fast.

How Much Time Should Be Spent on Warm Up Exercises?

5-10 minutes of simultaneous "light" exercises should do the trick. Doing it in a circuit fashion can get your heart rate up as cardio would, and get the flexibility without really stretching the muscle.

Craig Ballantyne has an example in this video:

[I do this for any physical activity. I can change the intensity and exercise every now and then but the concept is the same.]

The Warm Up Circuit List by Craig Ballantyne

1) Prisoner Sumo Squat - 15-20 reps
2) Offset Pushups - 10 reps per side
3) Wall "Stick Up" Exercise - 5-10 reps
4) Standing Cross Crawls - 15-20 reps
5) Reverse Lunges - 5 reps per side

Rest 1-2 Minutes and then do all these exercises one more time

While there might be some exceptions for different sports and activities, warm up exercises should prepare your muscles to workout efficiently. I hope I shed some light to make your workouts time-efficient and get the results you want soon.

Go to Fitness Tips Home Page