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So, you walk in the gym spend 1 minute on a foam roller, a few body weight squats, pausing at the bottom on a couple if your a bit tight, walk up to the squat bar and bang out a few reps at a lighter weight….. Everything feels good, so your good to go heavy yeah!!!

Well, to me this is the sign of a novice lifter, and MOST (i didn’t say all) advanced lifters and high performance athletes don’t do that. Even if sometimes it looks like they do!!!


Yeah, it will make more sense once it’s explained.

Everyone has their own warm up/ training prep routines (hopefully) and the one mentioned at the beginning of this post is definitely not what I would recommend as a coach but I have seen people with some crazy numbers warm up like this (again they are still the few). The difference being that they are looking at the purpose of the warm up sets and routine differently. An advance lifter understands that the body must be prepped if it is to complete the coming task with great success, in this instance I used the example of a squat.

Now, everyone has their own mechanical issues and whats best for me isn’t necessarily whats best for you, and an athlete should be working on correcting or maintaining good joint, tissue and mechanical health. However, across the board, if you are about to perform reps under heavy ass weight two things are true.

1 – Your nervous system is about to get f**ked up

2 – To get successful lifts at heavy weight your movement pattern needs to be shit hot, because if you botch it, you’re gonna end up underneath it!!

Top athletes use the light warm up sets to “wire in” a perfect movement pattern. An advanced lifter will stay disciplined and move with next to a perfect movement pattern, creating loads of tension and maximum muscle activation. They are practising the task of the working sets to come. This, in place with correct weight selection and rest periods on the way up to working weight, will maximise the athletes output on the working sets.

Like I said, even if the novice and advanced lifter are using the same preparation, the difference comes in the mentality of the lifter and the knowledge of the task in hand.

Here is some general advice for warming up, like I said before, all athletes are different and have different needs and issues, but if you think of your main working strength sets on your main exercise as the task, then apply common sense with the information just discussed.

Get blood to the muscles and the elevate the heart rate (this doesn’t mean run around the gym doing 10 press ups, burpees and sit ups every lap), it can be as simple as foam rolling and using relevant movement patterns to your main piece of power/strength work, this lets the body understand which systems are required of it.
In my opinion self myo facial release (foam rolling, muscle sticks, trigger point on a hockey ball) is a good idea, however, you don’t need to spend 45 minutes pre workout on this, if your issues are that bad, put some time a side to work on that in its own session. Keep it simple, treat any niggles, prep the muscles that are going to be used in the main movement.
Activate the nervous system by jumps, slams, strikes or throws, pick which ever is relevant to your main piece of work.
Use your warm up sets as discussed, being very mindful of perfect form and stretch off anything that is tight or preventing you from perfect form in your rest in between your warm up sets.
Select weight carefully and make sure you smash the set before working weight so you go in to your main task strong.

Warm up sets are PRACTISE for your main challenge in the work out. Set yourself up for success.

Work on niggles
Get some blood flow and activate weak muscle groups involved in the main lift
Prep your CNS
Lift with control and tension
Add speed and aggression as you climb close to working weight
Smash your Working sets

Get it done Grind Hard style!!! Visit a gym in Gateshead today.

Keep up the Grind guys,


Coach Chris McClarence

contact me here



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