You use warm up routine to prepare yourself for an upcoming strength training session. There are multiple different types of warm up, including the general warm up, the mobility warm up, and the specific warm up.
Mobility training can be further subdivided into static and dynamic stretching and foam rolling.
A general warm up usually consists of a relaxed steady-state cardio session before you begin strength training. You should do this for 5-10 minutes before each training session, so that you can start working up a sweat.
You can, for example, go on a treadmill, cross trainer, bike, or rowing machine for a few minutes.
The general warm up leads to a better overall training performance. You thus reduce the risk of injury and increase your range of motion. Your strength training performance increases. In addition, the general warm up can bring a mental advantage to the training session.
Static stretching allows you to increase your range of motion when your muscles are too stiff and this stiffness becomes the limiting factor in an exercise. In static stretching, you move one or more joints so that your muscles are stretched and slightly sore. You hold this stretched position for about 30 seconds and repeat the process 2-3 times.
An example of static stretching is stretching your ankle to increase the range of motion during squats.
However, static stretching does not prevent injuries and can even lower your performance in training. Therefore, you should usually avoid static stretching immediately before a training session.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is a different story. Here you can increase your range of motion without any negative effects on your training performance.
To stretch your muscles dynamically, move your muscles in a controlled manner through their full range of motion without holding them in one position for long. For example, if you circle your arms forward or backward with a maximum arc, you are dynamically stretching your shoulder muscles.
With foam rolling, you lie down on the foam roller with the muscles you want to be massaged and slowly roll out the muscles in a controlled manner. Like dynamic stretching, foam rolling can increase your range of motion without decreasing your exercise performance.
However, you only need mobility training after the general warm up if you cannot use the full range of motion for the target muscles in every exercise. Much more important than mobility training is the specific warm up.
With the specific warm up, you warm up as specifically as possible for an upcoming exercise. You do a few light warm-up sets of a particular exercise before the more strenuous working sets, usually with slightly lower reps. For instance, you might do three warm-up sets of 10x50, 8x105, and 6x160 to prepare for a 10x195 set on the bench press. Generally, the heavier and more complex an exercise is, the more warm-up sets you should do.
The purpose of the specific warm up is to get you used to the motions of the exercise and thus increase your neuromuscular efficiency. Through the specific warm up you internalize the movement pattern of an exercise, get used to the weight and thus increase your performance and prevent injuries.
Use the warm up set calculator in the Alpha Progression App to see the weight for a specific warm up.