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The warm up- everyone knows they should do one, and yet most people skip. One big problem with warming up is that the name – “warming up”- is vague and usually lends itself to a series of hasty absentminded movements and stretches. What should actually be accomplished with a warm up? What’s the best way accomplish do it? In a new video, powerlifter Ben Pollack describes why and how to warm up.
Ben describes his workout in four phases. The first is what most people thing of as a warm up- general movement. He recommends some sort of cardiovascular machine, like a stair-stepper, stationary bike, or prowler. The goal is to increase heart rate, warm up tissues, and prime the joints.
The second type of work is dynamic stretching. Pollack warns against static stretching before a workout, they actually inhibit the nervous system’s connection to the target muscle group. Pollack recommends that lifters focus on their problem areas. He does walking lunges and leg swings. Again, one needs to be mindful and make sure that stress is not placed in the joint, all tension should be processed through the muscle in safe ranges of motion.
Next comes an aspect that should be especially critical to bodybuilders: muscle activation. This step is highly personalized. Everyone knows their problem muscle groups. Pollack has trouble engaging his rear delts, so he starts off with some band pull-aparts.
He also activates his glute medius with some banded sidesteps. For these activations, do low resistance high rep. Bands are especially effective at activation because they offer accommodating resistance which keeps tension on the muscle at all times. Machines can also be excellent tools for isolation work.
The final step is progressing in the movement that is being trained. For bodybuilding workouts, with many movements a lower weight, progressing up in weight can be done through working sets. But for powerlifters, how one approaches a maximum lift is important.
He prefers to take smaller and smaller jumps up in weight as he approaches his max. the exact percentages carry for every lift. Thanks to Ben for this phenomenal and refreshingly clear approach to the vexing task of the warm up.