Warm Up & CNS, How to Be Optimal?


I have question about warm ups. I see some coaches recommend including explosive movements in the warm up, like jumps and med ball slams etc, to “fire and wake up” CNS. How accurate is this?

My warm up is normally 5-10min incline walking, followed by dynamic opening movements mostly for thoracic spine, hips and ankles. Then first exercise. Is it enough for “wake up” CNS by just doing warm up sets explosive as possible, with control of course or should I add some explosive elements in general warm up to it be optimal?

It’s impossible to answer that question.

There is no such thing as the perfect warm-up as it depends on each individual.

Essentially, the purpose of the warm-up is to get you in the best state possible to give an optimal performance during you whole workout. “Whole” being bolded because if your warm-up routine is excessive, while it might give you a boost at the beginning of the session, it makes the end less effective due to central and peripheral fatigue.

My belief is that your should do the least amount of warming-up as possible to perform optimally and safely. In other words, only use the tools that YOU need.

For example,if you have no mobility issues, or if your workout actually doesn’t include exercises that are limited by your mobility, don’t do mobility work. I much prefer to include mobility work at a separate time if needed. BUT if you are overly tight and it might interfere with your capacity to get into the proper positions in your exercises, then include mobility work. But again, only what you truly need to perform that session.

A warm-up is there to improve your workout, it’s actually not where you should try to increase mobility. This is best done on its own as the amount and intensity of work needed to improve mobility actually represents a significant stress.

If you are someone who has a very hard time getting into their workout; if you start to perform well around the mid-point of the session, then yeah, activation work as part of your warm-up is a good idea. BUT if you are normally ready to go from the first work set of your first exercise, you don’t need activation work. BTW activation work works mostly by increasing adrenaline (which speeds up neurons). So while it can improve performance (if you come in with low adrenaline levels) it can also backfire from a recovery standpoint.

Some need stuff like self-myofascial release, others don’t.

Some need to pump blood in the muscles they will train with low-intensity pump work (with bands for example) some don’t.

Only use what you need.

And most of all, do not turn a warm-up into a workout.

Heck, I’ve done all of my best lifting with a warm-up consisting only of light sets (ramping up the weight gradually) on my first lift of the day.


Not to think I’m adding anything to what the man himself said, but I also find it varies by day.

A leg day is going to take a little more than an upper body day, because my hips are worse than my shoulders.

I definitely need more if I didn’t sleep or I’ve been traveling.

Some days I can just roll in and start with lighter sets of the first exercise and that’s enough.

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I like that you stressed how individual and goal based a warmup actually is .

People tend to go on automatic pilot when they perform their warmups, if they do any warmup at all. Some guys just go straight into their work sets (probably because they’re to amped up from the pre-workout drink already and anxious to get going. I used to be like that in the past).

I never liked the stretching or self-myofascial release work. Beside the fact that it’s boring to most, I found that it only works momentarily and does not produce long term results. It’s just not worth all the time, effort and consistency you need to put into it imo.

I actually am a big proponent of loaded stretching for increasing mobility because it hits several goals at the same time (more or less): improving mobility, driving hypertrophy and increasing neuromuscular efficiency, which makes the muscle stronger and contract harder. Especially the neurological adaptations are so beneficial for increasing mobility. I truly believe that the nervous system will allow more ROM in a muscle that has stronger, bigger tendons.

When you do ramp ups for warmup, do you like to use the same reps for every warmup set and are these reps equal to the workset reps you’re doing? For example, if your worksets are 4 x 5, would you also perform warmup sets of 5 reps each and just steadily increase the weight until you hit your workset weight? If so, what would you do differently for exercises that have a higher rep target, let’s say 10-12. Using the same methodology, that would already be 40 reps in before you even start your first workset.

I’m curious to know how you would approach this.

Thanks for reply!

I do upper/lower split 4 days a week and have office work, so I feel that I need and feel better after do some dynamic openings my thoracic spine, hips and ankles. Those are my problem areas and overall feel better after using a bit time for those before hitting first exercise.

I got overhead press, bench, squat and deadlift for main lift of the day always, so sometimes when im pressed on time and if skip those dynamic things, I do feel a bit stiff performance.

And yes, I also feel that my body is fully awake and focus 100% around mid workout, but I think its mainly just because I train in the morning, starting first working set roughly 1,5-2 hours after wake up, so I guess thats just the time body takes to be fully awake.

But maybe I could try some explosive movements and see if any benefit. Anyway, I want to keep warm up fast and efficient as possible, and current routine feels pretty good but sometimes does really feel that body is too “off” during main lift. Sometimes just grab barbell and start warming up feels good too, but almost every time that happens my sleep being excellent, so those days feel warm up can be minimum just with exercise itself.

I do warm up & ramp up pretty much like this, lets say in doing bench 3x5x120kg

Empty bar x 10-15
120kg working set

Sometimes I do one single around 5-10% heavier than working set weight, so could be after 2x110kg then 1x130kg followed by 120kg working sets. But anyway, reps decreasing when weight increasing during ramping up.

That’s also how I normally do my warmups. I just like to divert from standard protocol every now and then to experiment and find new, more efficient ways to warmup. I don’t like doing too many warmup sets because I feel it decreases my motivation on the actual work sets. I mostly do 3-4, maybe 5 warmup sets for heavy work, at the most and that feels ok.

Ever tried overcoming iso’s as a warmup? 2-4 sets of pressing a bar 6 seconds against pins before benching works wonders for breaking plateaus and it does not feel taxing at all (if used sparingly).

For preparatory work, I actually like doing Joe Bennet’s mobile meathead exercises. It’s basically improving mobility by contracting antagonists and it’s only 2-5 mins work total. It’s the only warmup protocol that allows me to be consistent with it because you choose your exercises based on the workout of that day and it’s pretty short in time, both of which are motivating for me to do the work.

My warmup in accordance with Dr Schoenfeld.

  1. Light cardio (for example jog, bike, crosstrainer, rowing machine) for 5-10 mins in RPE 5/10.

  2. On the first heavy (compound) excercise per muscle group: Warm up weight approx 50% of 1 RM for about 10-15 reps, followed by

  3. Warm up weight approx 70% of 1 RM for about 5-10 reps.

It feels good and reduces the number of warm up sets needed.

Hello Coach, I´m interested what are your thoughts on the “new” wenning warmups from Matt Wenning for NATURAL lifters?

He recommends 3 exercises for 4 sets of 25 reps for 3 rounds (lower body example: belt squat, reverse hyper, abs) before hitting the main lift like squat or bench press? In total 300 reps!

I would appreciate if you can share your thoughts please on these very high rep circuit style warmups for an upper lower split to potentiate and activate the muscles for the workout and to build gpp or work capacity as he says.

I would love to hear your opinion if you think its a good idea or just unnecessary junk volume for naturals, regardless beginner or advanced, when the goal is muscle growth, be healthy and athletic?

He claims that everyone, from the advanced elite powerlifter up to the soccer mom or average meathead can do these warmups because it´s all about the weight you use in the warmups!?

But I, as a natural type 2b and 3 (did two tests) ask myself if this is not too much volume and therefore I elevate cortisol unnecessary?

Obviously you should busting his balls because every coach has his own believes and methods, I just want your opinion and thoughts regarding these warmups for the general population and for different neurotypes, because I believe in what YOU say

I appreciate you, thanks

It’s honestly not my cup of tea. It is not something that I would recommend. BUT that doesn’t mean that it can’t work for some people.

I do not like criticizing other elite coaches, especially if they have a good track record,

I do not feel that being natural or not has anything to do with how effective that warm-up will be, even if that is plenty of reps. Naturals are not as fragile as that.

The three things that I PERSONALLY don’t like about it are:

  • That amount of reps, even if it is super light, can lead to overuse injuries in the long run. Recently, Dave Tate mentioned he actually aggravated his hip problem by doing too much hip warming up, because even though it is light, it’s still movement which can lead to damage over time.

  • I would personally get too pumped to train properly with that

  • I PERSONALLY don’t like high reps ad having to do those sets would actually put ME in a bad mindset

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Thanks for the reply, I appreciate your detailed response.