T Nation

The No Warm Up Warm Up


I'm waiting for my personal trainers course to start, so I've really been pumping out articles. Getting the rough draft is easy, but all the little things add up, and I'm putting everything I have into them to make sure they get published.

I put this one together tonite, but realized I haven't actually completed it, and it's something I'm doing right now, so just not likely to be published. I thought you guys might like to have a look at it.

The No Warm Up Warm Up

You know what? I donâ??t like to stretch, I do as little as possible actually.

You see, Iâ??m a powerlifter and all I care about is squatting 600 in a belt. What Iâ??ve learned is that it isnâ??t just about being strong. You need to be TIGHT. How tight? I personally donâ??t want to max out or compete if I can do a bodyweight squat under my own power. In fact, if Iâ??m getting depth easily with 135 I still donâ??t feel ready, I prefer when I can only get to depth with 2 plates.

The best squatters I know would never stretch, or do dynamic drills, maybe a few hip swings, maybe, they did their warm ups with the bar, and that was it.

You see a tigher muscle will contract more forcefully than a looser muscle. Think of it as an elastic band, a thin band is a looser muscle, while a thicker band is the tighter muscle. As your muscles become tight you gain much more of a stretch reflex as you load your squat on the descent, and bigger stretch reflex means a bigger squat.

All I want in life is a big back squat. Therefore, being tight is something I need to embrace.

I used to do a big warm up that could last up to 30 minutes. At the time I was competing in strongman, and in that sport it pays to take care of little nagging injures and be mobile as you have to compete in a multitude of events.

I would foam roll most of my lower body, upper back, pecs, basically everything. Then I began a good dynamic warm up, along with whatever stretching I felt I needed to do. Iâ??d had a fairly serious lower back injury that took me around 6 months to recover from, and there was no way I was going to let that happen ever again.

Then one day, under the guidance of my friend Willie Albert, I began a squatting routine where I wasnâ??t allowed to foam roll or stretch. Everyone thought I would be injured in no time, but that didnâ??t happen. You see, stretching a muscle opens it up to injury . ( Iâ??m not going to get into the why, Iâ??m not seeking to have this article published, and the textbook Iâ??m reading to understand all this stuff is fairly difficult for me to understand)

So now, I see things in a different light. My warm ups would be just enough to be able to get into position with minimal pain, a few dynamic moves a quick hip stretch and go from there. But I miss not being able to get depth with the bar, and I still havenâ??t squatted 600.
Enter the No Stretch Warm Up... (well thereâ??s a bit of stretching)

I lost my great posture lately. Before I was so tight, it pulled me into great position and I had no choice but to stay that way as half the muscles in my body were spasming like a body cast. Now that theyâ??ve chilled out and Iâ??ve began benching 3 times a week, my great posture is simply average. My left shoulder is alarmingly roller forward and internally rotated. My Chiro thinks itâ??s from a pec tear I had 6ish months ago. My hips are fairky good, but my left glute isnâ??t firing very well, and itâ??s set me up in a compensation pattern that is just kill my right knee and at times my left TFL and IT band are so pained I canâ??t sleep.

So whatâ??s the plan?

I need to keep my hips loose, but still activate and strengthen my glutes. As well, I need to be able to get under the bar before I squat, and improve and fix my rolled forward shoulders.

So hereâ??s my warm up for a squat workout.

Hyperextensions 3x20
Machine rows 3x20
Pec and lat stretch
single leg hip thrust
10 bodyweight squats, 10 front squats, 10 high bar Olympic squats, 10 regular squats.

Seems pretty simple, but thereâ??s more to it than meets the eye.

Hyperextensions â?? everytime I hurt my back my chiropractor tells me to do a ton of these. Now my chiro is not your average guy, he takes care of the majority of powerlifters in Ottawa. Iâ??ve seen a friend go in to see him on crutches and walk out.

But back to why he recommends these so much. Well, I feel the majority of low back injuries are from tight hips. We also know people with overly tight hips have weak hamstrings and glutes. So the hyperextension works the posterior chain, and will actually loosen up the hips as well as warm up your low back.

The added hamstring work wonâ??t hurt your squat, and if it does, youâ??ll eventually adjust.

Machine rows- I do a ton of benching, and this sometimes makes it difficult to get the bar in a rack position. I do these for 2 reasons, they help to counterbalance my bench, and maintain and regain my posture. The second reason is after Iâ??m done, I get a bit of a back pump, and I can easily get under the bar.

Pec and lat stretch (hip stretch only on bench days)- I feel the lat stretch is very important for the shoulders, and goes a long way to keep them healthy. When the lats are overly tight, and most of us have tight lats, they impinge and pull the shoulders down. It pays to loosen these up, and you wonâ??t have a giraffe neck, which I suffered from for a time.

The pec stretch simply helps me to get under the bar, as soon as I can I will drop this and not stretch my pecs at all besides dumbbell flys.

The rear foot elevated hip stretch is there on bench days to just help you arch, and not get a creaky back.

single leg hip thrusts - these will activate your glute, as well as strengthen them. I do them single leg as I have an imbalance, and I need to iron that out.

The bodyweight squats just get my pulse up the rest of the way after the warm up, and grease my knees to get ready for the upcoming practice.

Now the kicker, is I train 6 days a week, so Iâ??m doing this warm up almost everyday. You want to train your body to always be in good posture, and you want to keep it there, my hope is that my upper back will spasm like a cast again and keep my shoulders pinned back. Iâ??m slowly building this up to 100 reps of hyperextensions and rows, then Iâ??ll stay there and let my body maintain. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but your body will adapt to it Bulgarian style and before you know it youâ??ll see monster improvements.

What I feel this will do is maintain and rebuild my posture, and through good posture can I be assured that I wonâ??t become injured through my lack of stretching in my quest to be as tight as possible.

Now I really donâ??t recommend this complete lack of mobility work unless youâ??re fairly experienced and more than ready to deal with a fair bit of pain. I havenâ??t had a pain free squat practice in about 32 weeks and Iâ??m good with that, but I get exhausted from it constantly and my gf hates how Iâ??m always wrecked.

I would add in a good dynamic warm up such as this:

It would go a long way to keep you healthy, but Iâ??d also add in the above guidelines.

As far as assistance work goes, just because you worked your glutes/hams and back in your warm up doesnâ??t mean your done, you need to hammer these areas in your assistance and keep working on your posture muscles constantly.

Thatâ??s about it, let me know what you think and please comment, Iâ??ll reply to each one.


sorry for the weird script, everytime I add in a ' it happens.


I'd like to see some research on how a tighter muscle can contract harder.


I'll try to get something together for you man, it's something I've learned, then promptly forgot, but kept the lessson.

Back to my textbook.


this is a pretty good article on why no stretching is key, though he doesn't feel you can change posture through exercise, I beg to differ as I've done it and have the pics to back it up.



I def agree with your thoughts on tightness.

But have you read about how stretching a muscle too much simply decreases power output? Yes, you want that stretch reflex, but I wouldn't blatantly recommend everyone be tight, though I hope you aren't getting at that.

Just throwing that out there for consideration.


Hey man, I really appreciate the comment, and I'm honestly very interested in getting other peoples thoughts on the matter.

I believe this article comments on how stretching too often decreases power output a bit.

I wouldn't recommend everyone be tight for prolonged periods either... but my squat hasn't felt the same since I stopped squatting everday, and I miss it. Even so, I feel the warm up will keep me posturally correct to minimize injury risk, as I feel all injuries can be traced back to poor posture.

My big plan before I compete is to do my 6 day a week routine for 4 weeks before I compete, then let myself get back to normal. I feel I can improve up to 4 weeks, but after that performance seems to stagnant.

Thanks for the reply man


Are you using MS Word? Copy from word and paste into Notepad before you paste it here, and you won't have that problem.


I like being flexible :frowning:


Thanks man


nothing wrong with being flecible man, I just do things a little differently based on my experiences so far

I have great flexibility for the squat, bench and deadlift, but I can't do kickboxing anymore... and I don't want to. I'm an athlete practicing my sport, and I want my range of motion to be very specific.

When you've done a very high volume high intensity program, ie squatting 6 days a week for 12 weeks, you'll find if you bend over or squat down to pick something up, your body almost pushes you back up... that's the kind of posture I want to reinforce into my lifting. I don't want to be totally wrecked the way I was before... but I was very quad dominant before, ie the brutal patellar pain.

I'm hoping that by bringing my posterior chain up with a vengeance, that I'll be able to get through these programs without the wild knee pain.

When Willie Albert squatted everyday for 6 weeks he told me his knees never hurt, other stuff hurt, but never his knees. Compare my 525 squat and 585 pull to Willies 550 squat and 725 pull and besides our body types being different, Willie is just hamstring dominant. I seek to become more like that through my warm up as well, while reinforcing proper posture so my hips don't get overly tight.

Make sense?


Yes very much.


Still think that the stiffness is good, for with all things considered and the person is functional, but that article is full of shit. The entire thing is cherry picking.

If you want to see for yourself you can even look up the studies. Some he cited actually summarized the opposite of what he said. Maybe he was hoping there were too many citations and no one would read through them?

2 examples. 1 study said that there was no strength gains from end range hamstring work. Not only did they not test the torque at end range (picture in study showed test protocols for peak torque testing with a bent knee...), they used 30 degree hamstring curls from lockout as the hamstring strengthening exercise.

2nd one that was beyond poorly cited was on the calve muscle, and the summary even said that peak torque changes were nill for all stretching groups and the control, even the ones that stretched for 8 min straight.

Last thing. The majority of these studies cited the calves, which attach to one of the largest tendons in the body, versus say the pecs, hamstrings, quads or anything else really.

Point is, that was a god-awful study, I'd look for better sources for your stuff so people can take you seriously, bc I think you probably have plenty to offer for us, you move some pretty big weights.

[sorry for the slight rant on that study lol]


Menno published a bullshit article talking out his ass? You don't say. Pretty glad T-Nat hasn't brought him back lately. That guy is awful.


Hey man, thanks for pointing out the flaws in my thinking, I appreciate it.

It's really hard to have personal beliefs based on bits and pieces here and there, and then try to present them, I admire T-Nation authors in a big way.

I also hear they get shit on constantly, so I've gotta keep my head.

I don't think you're shitting on me, just giving me some really good feedback so I can get better.

Sincerely, thank.

p.s. my 4 other articles are quite a bit better than this... I hope.


I really didn't like how he said you couldn't change your posture, and the best way to change it was to move to that posture all day long... which is true.... just short sighted.


Been reading your posts and really liking the info and knowledge you've shared and presented.

I have definitely changed my posture, but it takes time -at least as long as it takes to learn how to squat...in other words, a never-ending process.

And I also agree with you that exercises done with bad posture will (again, over time) inevitably lead to injury.

I was skipping rope the other day and doing doulble unders with better form and equal or better quickness as I had a decade ago Totally freaked myself out, in a good way. And at age 50, it's not because my reflexes have gotten better!


Soft tissue work is far more important than static stretching IMO. If I dont get my pvc pipe rolling I feel like crap.


Don't forget the lax ball for the shoulders and hips :slight_smile:


Hey man, congrats on the improved posture.

And thank you very much for the positive feedback, it's sincerely appreciated.


I rolled everything out for a long time myself and felt great, then my friend got me to squat 6 days a week and never let me stretch or foam roll... it was horrible, but my squat has never felt better or more grooved.

I'm really not sure if this experiment will work, I may wind up starting some dynamic moves.

I really like the foam roller on the lats, and releasing the lats can really improve shoulders.

thanks for the comments.