The Proper Warm Up Sequence

What eventually happened in my case is that I instinctively started experimenting with my warm up sets to try to find something better, and I ended up coming upon a sequence that I later realized was extremely close to what a lot of experts recommend.

What is that warm up sequence, you ask?

Well, for most of the people, most of the time, it should go something along the lines of this:

  1. Start off with 1 VERY light set of 10-15 reps. For this set you’d usually use just the bar (with no weight on it) or some VERY light dumbbells if it was a dumbbell exercise. If it’s a machine exercise, you’d put on some equally light and easy/insignificant amount of weight.
  2. The next set, do 8 reps using 55-60% of the actual weight you will be using during your actual work sets for this exercise. So, if your first work set was going to be with 200lbs, you’d use 110-120lbs for this set.
  3. The next set, do 5 reps using 70-75% of the actual weight you will be using during your actual work sets for this exercise. So again, if your first work set was going to be with 200lbs, you’d use 140-150lbs for this set.
  4. The set after that, do 3 reps using 80-85% of the actual weight you will be using during your actual work sets for this exercise. So once again, if your first work set was going to be with 200lbs, you’d use 160-170lbs for this set.
  5. And for your final warm up set, do just 1 rep using 90-95% of the actual weight you will be using during your actual work sets for this exercise. So, using the same example, if your first work set was going to be with 200lbs, you’d use 180-190lbs for this set.
  6. You’d then rest for whatever the prescribed amount of rest time is for that exercise, and then begin your first work set.

To make that even clearer, here’s a pretty chart…

The Proper Weight Training Warm Up Sequence
Set Weight Reps Rest
#1 Just the bar/very light dumbbells. 10-15 45-60 seconds
#2 55-60% of the weight you will be using for this exercise. 8 45-60 seconds
#3 70-75% of the weight you will be using for this exercise. 5 45-60 seconds
#4 80-85% of the weight you will be using for this exercise. 3 45-60 seconds
#5 90-95% of the weight you will be using for this exercise. 1 Full Amount

As you can see, you’d typically take about 45-60 seconds between each warm up set. There’s really no special set amount of time, but usually the time it takes to casually change the weight, catch your breath (if it needs to be caught) and get into position will last about 45-60 seconds anyway, so something similar to that would be perfectly sufficient.

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