Warm-up more, way more! How should bodybuilders warm-up?

This article will take you 4 minutes to read. Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!

When going to the gym, warming-up is usually something neglected. In some cases, it’s not that it is neglected but it is simply not done enough. In this article we are going to discuss the true value of warming up and how it shouldn’t be underestimated. The long term benefits are very important and we want to offer a different perception of warming up: it is not only a physical but also a mental preparation.

Warming-up: two sides of it

Warm-up comes down to more than just warming up physically before you start your session. Warming up mentally prepares your mindset through a sort of meditation and visualization process. Most people we can see who have suffered injuries in the past have said it comes in the moments you least expect it. You are tired after work, you walk into the gym on autopilot and jump straight to heavyweights.

warming up mentally and physically in bodybuilding

How to warm-up mentally

When you start preparing yourself mentally for a gym session and become actively aware of the risk of injury, you actually minimize the chances of sustaining an injury.

warming up mentally in bodybuilding

You are ready, you get pumped, and you are focused on the heavy sets you are about to do. Just like when you focus yourself before attempting a PB – everyone likes to close their eyes and take a minute to prepare.

So why not apply this on a larger scale, doing this before a session?

Easing into your working sets

Some people who are benching or squatting very high numbers will jump from an empty bar to 60kg then 100kg straight away. It feels light to them so it seems like there is no prospect of injuring themselves.

It isn’t enough. Dedicating more time to an incremental warm-up is the best approach. The problem with that is that your warm-up can take 15 to 20 minutes, and if your sessions are between an hour and 1hour 30mins, this is quite a large proportion of time to spend on warming up.

warm up step by step

However in the long term, even if you do not train long hours, it can only be more beneficial and safer. If for example you hurt yourself due to not warming up properly, you will have to take much more time out of training to recover.

Warming up this way is a top-approach. Really directing your attention to the heavy sets you are about to do. Having an efficient warm-up will strike a balance between preventing injury and optimizing your time in the gym. 

An example in practice

This is an example of warming-up for benching. Imagine you are working your way up to a single 150kg repetition.

3 x empty bar, 20 reps

(Lateral raises with 2kg plates)

1 x 40kg bar, 15 reps

(Lateral raises with 2kg plates)

1 x 60kg bar, 8 reps

 (Lateral raises with 2kg plates)

1 x 80kg bar, 3 reps

(Lateral raises with 2kg plates)

1 x 90kg, 1 rep

(Lateral raises with 2kg plates)

1 x 100, 1 rep

…and so on, increasing each rep by 10kg all the way up to 150kg. If you are in a hurry you can cut out some of the smaller increases. As long as you do the light but long sets which is what matters the most.

Here is why adding weight gradually is so important:

You are not tiring yourself out because you are only doing 1 rep from 100kg onwards. And you are assessing your mental and physical state with each increase. By following a strict structure consistently, it offers a clear picture of your progress. If you would like to learn more about this, check out the article “Stick to your bodybuilding routine to avoid stagnation! Here’s why”.

Get the feel of it!

By warming up this way every time, you know what 100kg for 1 rep should feel like and then 110kg and so on. If one day, when you do your single 130kg rep on your way to 150kg and it feels tougher than usual, you can tell that you won’t be at your best.

Based on this assessment you will not push yourself to go as heavy as usual, therefore avoiding risks. If your warm-up takes you from 0 to 60kg, then 60kg to 100kg, to 150kg, it is harder to judge how you are feeling on your way up to 150kg!

warm up and focus

Try it for yourself!

There are a lot of people lifting extremely heavy weights but complaining about pain. In our opinion, this is in part because they warm up too fast and in the long term, it causes issues. A lot of people like to say not getting injured could be lucky genes.

In reality, there is a chance a good 15 minutes warm-up before each session will help you staying injury-free.


So next time you’re tempted to skip a decent warm-up, try to think about the long term benefits!

Here is a sum-up of the main key benefits of taking the time with a gradual warm-up as explained in this article:

  • Getting focused to perform well
  • Getting your muscle physically prepared for your heavy lifts
  • Being able to tell how you feel that day by following the same warm-up routine each time
  • Avoid injuries in the very long-term

You might also be interested by our article “How many reps to build muscle naturally?”

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments and we will make sure to answer!