T Nation

How Important are Warm-up Sets?


I read a lot about the importance of these but I've never done them and have always had good gains without any injuries. Are they just a precaution or will they actually improve gains?


Precaution to properly warm your muscles up before attempting heavy(ire) weight to avoid injuries. If say you are doing chest and bis the first two exercises (eg. bench, preacher curl)in that day I would warm up 2-3 sets then get into my work sets. Any other exercise for the bis and chest after that I would just get into heavy weight work sets.

Hope I made myself clear..


Warm up sets should also allow you to lift heavier. Very important IMO.

Edit: Not to mention once you start using really heavy weights it becomes dangerous. I'd hate to put 400 pounds on the bar and do anything with it before warming up. When you're only benching 1 plate per side I guess it's not as dangerous.


Warm-up sets are very important, IMO. If I can avoid getting injured, I will. Thanks.

But really, you need to prepare your joints and stuff for heavy lifting. Do you think your hammies would be ready to squat 405 after sitting down for three hours? No.

Okay, the example is a little extreme, but warm-up sets should never be neglected.


What do you consider to be 'good gains'?

How heavy do you lift? Not your intensity as a percentage of your 1RM. How much actual weight are you moving on various movements?

I also find it hard to believe that you just walk into the gym and just throw your working weight on and go nuts. Unless you pyramid up over 6 sets but only 3 or 4 or working sets. I guess that's not warming up in the traditional sense but it accomplishes the same thing if you start light enough, compared to the weight for the working sets.

And if you pyramid weight but only do 4 total sets I think you are short changing yourself because you will be using unnecessarily light weight on the first two sets when you could have done a warm up then start with higher weight. This will allow you to move more poundage over the course of the workout.



He may be just starting out and young. From my own athletic experience (not so much with lifting, but actual sports) warm-up gets more important as you age.


His profile says he's been lifting for 3 years. After lifting for 3 years you should be lifting heavy enough weight to REQUIRE warm up sets.


Training age. Not physical age. Yes.

You better believe a 20 year old guy benching 350+ or squatting 500+ will have to warm up with more dillegence than a 30 year old man benching 185 squatting 225.

Yes tendons are more supple at younger ages but that becomes irrelevant when big weights are being used.


I'm 27 and have been lifting nearly 5 years.

I go straight into 5 reps of 230 (yeah, lol, I'm not into bodybuilding and have extremely long arms) with no trouble at all. When I tried warmup sets I couldn't lift as much because my muscles were already fatigued. Did I not wait long enough or did I go too heavy on warm up? Also, I try to keep my workouts at an hour. This is damn near impossible if I'm doing for example all upper body groups even without warmups. How in the hell do you fit warmups and heavy lifts into an hour?


Warm up:135x10

That 230 will feel much easier and will turn into 250 REAL fast if you'd warm up. I don't know anyone who walks in and hits his working weight. To me it just doesn't make any sense.

By the way, how many sets of 230 are you doing?


I lift heavier weight when I'm properly warmed up. And I don't warm up on every single exercise. Just the heavy compound movements. Here's an example how I warm up for bench press:

10 pushups (feet up)

then work sets

235 feels lighter than 225. 255 feels a little heavier than 235 but not much. I actually get stronger as I get more warmed up. Theres no way in hell I could just lay on the bench and get 255 up for 6 reps.

Now I'm already warmed up for my next exerises: Incline bench, close grip bench, pec deck, and whatever tricep excerise I feel like throwing in. So the workout doesn't go over an hour.

I don't bother warming up for stuff like curls, rear delt raises or most isolation exercises.


I'm pretty curious to know how you were warming up if it inhibited your performance. Sounds like you wore yourself out instead of warmed yourself up.

What exactly do your workouts look like? I'd like to know what you're doing in one session that you can't fit it into one hour. Sounds to me like you're doing too much.

Give us a bit more info.


I'm cutting atm, so usually 3, then I drop the weight to 180 for a few sets of incline. 8-10 sets is my norm for bulking.


I think that's what I'm looking for. Warming up for every exercise seems a bit monotonous and time consuming. In the past I think my problem was warming up to failure (yes, I'm a moron).


Yeah, warming up before each exercise certainly isn't necessary.

Normally I warm up every time I going to use a completely different movement plane or include different joints. Once my shoulder joints are warm from incline pressing I don't need to warm up for flat pressing and flyes. If I were to do some non-pressing tricep stuff after a chest workout I'd have to warm up my elbows before doing heavy extensions.

I like to warm up with a low rep range, light weight. If I am going to do working sets of incline DB press with 100, 115, 120 I'll warm up with 30,40,50,60 about 4 or 5 reps each with little to no rest in between. If I still dont feel warm I'll do a little bit more. You should never feel close to being fatigued after a warmup.


Hmm. Just curious. If your "not into bodybuilding" as you said in a previous post, what is this talk of bulking and cutting? Was that statement to cover some feelings of inadequacy on your numbers?

Not trying to bash here, just curious what your goals are. You've been training 5 years and are at 230 for a bench. How have you been trying to progress in your lifts? And how?


If you aren't into bodybuilding, have you thought to go to the strength forum and ask how they warm up?


To be honest it hasn't been 5 years consecutively and I've only had a good grasp on how to lift for about 2 years. I strive for funtional strength that can be converted to power, mainly for martial arts and baseball. I bulk because I know I need mass to minimize limitations on my strength program. I cut so I can stay lean and quick on my feet. I also don't want too much mass because my lady, and most ladies, aren't that turned on by it. But seriously, I don't know if it's my genes or terribly long limbs or what, people ask me if I use steroids often. I am very large.


Hm, perhaps I should've checked that out, too, I was envisioning a 19 year old twig struggling to push up 135 still.



According to Tate, most guys have no clue how to warm-up properly: "They'll do a few arm swings and then load the bench with 135. They'll do a few reps, put on an extra 50 pounds, and then do a few more. Then they may start to work with 225. It's a huge mistake."

Worse than that, though, are the "platers."

"These geniuses jump from 135 pounds to 225 pounds, and then all the way up to 315 pounds in less than five minutes. That's a great way to tear a muscle."

So before you load the bar with your max weight and start pressing, take this tip from Tate into consideration:

"Don't leave the weight and jump up until you're absolutely ready to. There've been times at Westside where we used the bar for eight sets. These are world-record holders who aren't ready to go to 95 pounds."


Use common sense and do warm up sets!