How Do I Warmup Prior to Lifting Weights?

By Nick Mazzone, PT, DPT, CSCS

The warmup phase is easily one of the most forgotten components of an exercise program these days. Would you intentionally leave it out if I told you that it could lead to increased performance and results during your workout?

Traditionally, people have used static stretching (long holds in a position that lengthens a muscle) before workouts to help decrease their risk of injury, however there is no evidence that this is the case. Static stretching before exercise has actually been shown to decrease maximal force production, jump height, and sprint speed while increasing reaction time and impairing balance (Perrier et. al).

Rather than static, long holds in the lengthened position of a muscle, dynamic movement involves actively moving through a joint’s range of motion without holding at the end point. A study by Perrier et. al found that dynamic movement including skipping, shuffling, and calisthenics of increasing intensity that were chosen based on the movements that would be performed during training led to improved athletic performance versus static stretching and no stretching at all.

Dynamic movements that mimic the exercises you will be performing help to prepare the central nervous system for physical activity. By activating specific muscles prior to exercising, we are facilitating proper muscle activation patterns and therefore, “priming” the nervous system.

Suggestions for a proper warmup routine

·      15-20 minutes of dynamic movement

·      Must make an effort to mimic the activities that will be performed in the exercise  program

·      Must include enough intensity to elevate heart rate

·      Should not approach more than 30% of your maximal effort to prevent muscle fatigue

Example of warmup routine prior to squatting or deadlifting

·      Bridging with a resistance band 3 sets of 15-20 reps

·      Marching with a resistance band 3 sets of 15-20 reps

·      Body weight squatting with a resistance band 3 sets of 15-20 reps

·      Lateral Band Stepping with resistance band 3 sets of 10 steps in each direction

Example of warmup routine prior to overhead pressing or bench pressing

·      Banded shoulder external rotation with retraction 3 sets of 12-15 reps

·      Wall Angels 3 sets of 10-15 reps

·      Overhead Arm Raise at Wall 3 sets of 10-15 reps

·      Banded Wall Climbs 3 sets of 8-12 reps


For a preview of upper and lower body warmup routines, check out these videos:

For more information or any questions, give us a call at 718-258-3300 or contact us today!


Perrier, E. T., Pavol, M. J., & Hoffman, M. A. (2011). The Acute Effects of a Warm-Up Including Static or Dynamic Stretching on Countermovement Jump Height, Reaction Time, and Flexibility. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,25(7), 1925-1931. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181e73959

Warmup picture retrieved from


Nick Mazzone received his doctorate in Physical Therapy from Stony Brook University. He has a strong background in strength and conditioning and aims to bridge the gap between strength training and physical therapy. Nick believes that a lifestyle centered around physical fitness and mental well-being are vital to one’s successes and happiness. For this reason, he educates his patients on pain science and helps empower them and motivate them to reach their goals every day. You can find him at Evolve Physical Therapy in Mill Basin, Brooklyn.