Time and time again, we are asked about whether there is a need to warmup before lifting weights. The truth is, warming up has many benefits. It can reduce the discomfort you may experience from exercising cold, improve joint mobility and improve physiological function of muscle. These benefits are especially helpful when lifting heavier weights. Today the team at Colchester Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic are taking a closer look at the concept of warming up before exercise. We are seeking to determine if it is necessary and what the best methods are based on research. 

The Best Way to Warm Up Before Lifting Weights 

As with anything related to fitness, there is a lot of conflicting information online about the necessity of performing a warmup before lifting weights. Moreover, there is a great deal of debate as to how you should be warming up. There is rarely a definitive answer to the latter, and how you decide to warmup will depend on you and your routine. There may be specific areas of muscle stiffness that relate to you , which may not be the case for the person next to you or your gym buddy. 
Still, taking the time to warmup before a heavy session is important. A well executed warmup will prime your muscles, nervous system and, most importantly, mind for the workout ahead. It also triggers blood flow around your body: warming you up and augmenting physiological function of muscle. A warm up before weight lifting is also important if you suffer from degenerative changes in your joints like Osteoarthritis, as it decreases the viscosity of synovial fluid (fluid produced in a joint to lubricate it) allowing for better mobility. There are significant benefits to be gained from strength training if you have Osteoarthritis but seek your physio’s advice before you get started (see our blog
Whilst some people may now be rushing to Google ‘’stretches to do before lifting weights’’, there are a wealth of options available to you beyond stretching. If you are looking to create a routine, you may wish to consider the following: 


Introducing some light cardio into your warmup routine is excellent for increasing core body temperature and circulation. Whether you decide to perform a light jog, opt for a few minutes on the rowing machine or decide to skip, it will all pay dividends. It is worth highlighting that you are not trying to set any PRs here. You are taking it easy and coaxing your body into the workout ahead. For the best way to warm up before lifting weights, we would certainly recommend light cardio. 

Foam rolling 

Recent evidence would suggest foam rolling does little to improve flexibility. However, many people will state they feel that they benefit from this type of exercise. It is likely that any benefit gained from foam rolling is neuro-modulatory and rather than gains in mobility, what is more likely to be happening is desensitisation of soft tissue that is put under tension during exercise which may otherwise have caused you discomfort had you not used a roller. The movement that you engage in when using a roller may also be helpful in warming up body temperature. 


When considering a warmup before lifting weights, stretching often is viewed to have a negative impact on muscle power. However, this depends on the type of stretch you do. Whilst static stretching for more than 60 seconds is said to reduce power output, and thus negatively impact weight lifting performance, there are a number of dynamic stretches which can be introduced. These will help to prepare muscles, ligaments and soft tissues for the workout ahead and unlock mobility. These dynamic stretches can be as simple as practising the exercise that you intend doing with a lighter resistance or just your body weight. We encourage you to pick a handful of stretches and focus on the joints that are going to be incorporated in the exercises of the day. For example if you are having a leg day, try some light body weight squats or walking lunges to warm up before you start lifting. 

Colchester Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic 

We hope you enjoyed our article on the benefits of performing a warmup before lifting weights. Here at Colchester Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic, we are experts in injury prevention with a wealth of clients and success stories. A well thought out warmup and good technique will reduce your risk of injury and enhance the enjoyment you get from your workout. Still, sometimes injury does occur. If you are struggling and require support, reach out to us today. We offer a range of services aimed at athletes of varying levels. Whether you are a professional or just an enthusiast, we can help. 
Get in touch with the team here at Colchester Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic for honest advice and recommendations! 


Craig Fowlie 

Craig is a highly specialized physiotherapist with post graduate qualifications in Acupuncture and Sports and Exercise Medicine. 
He has worked with Professional Rugby sides in New Zealand and has assisted Great Britain Table Tennis at the World Team Championships and Olympic Qualifiers in Qatar and Germany. He is a consultant for the Governments Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and has published and presented research in the Journal of Physiotherapy and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Annual Conference. 
Outside of work he enjoys participating socially in triathlon and running. 
Tagged as: strength, weight lifting
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