We see it all the time at the gym. Someone will come in, get changed, and start right away trying to lift their max. And they most likely will succeed . . . for now. But what they don’t know is that one day they will come in, do their normal routine and suffer a debilitating injury that can put them out of commission for days, weeks or even forever.
Think of your body like your car. You wouldn’t think of backing it out of the driveway, putting it in drive and pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor would you? Most likely you first drive it around at a lower speed until you get to the highway where you can gradually increase your speed up to the limit or at a safe speed based on driving conditions at the time.
Start by first doing a few reps of some light cardio exercises to get the blood flowing, increase joint range of motion and activate muscle fibers. A circuit of jumping jacks, squats, lunges, rows and pushups is all you need. This warms up both the upper and lower body and increases your breathing rate, thus preparing your body for what is to come next.
Then Dynamic Stretching
Next move into some dynamic stretching by lifting a lighter amount of weight than what you use in your normal workout. Dynamic stretching lightly works the muscles about to be used through their range of motion. Warm-up the same muscles that you will work in your workout.
Begin by lifting half of your one-rep max (RM) for 6 to 8 repetitions. If you are not familiar with the term RM, it is the amount of weight you can lift once or for only one repetition. It is a standard used in the strength training community when lifting weights as to the percentage something is when measured against the RM. Follow that with 3 to 4 reps at 65% RM. Doing it this way you are warming up each muscle right before running it through your normal routine for that muscle group.
The Age Factor
Also age makes a difference as far as how long and how much weight you should be lifting during a warm-up. If older, instead of trying to lift 50% of your RM, start out doing a set using 25%. Then gradually increase the weight until you are at the 65% RM. Take it slow and if it takes you longer to warm-up, so what. Listen to your body and let it be your guide. All rushing does is increase your chances for an injury that could end working out for good.
Finish out your workout with some static stretching which is extending a muscle worked out to its maximum range of motion and holding it there for a count of 10 seconds or so. Warming up and cooling down will get you to your goal quicker with less chances of suffering an injury.