Welcome to the gym! I hope you enjoy your work out! Hopefully you won’t be waddling out the door after leg day or walking sideways through the door later because you did some bench.

What is your plan today? How much time do you have to spend here?

More importantly, before grabbing a weight, sitting on a bench, or finding that perfect bar, how much time are you going to spend warming up your body? What exactly are you going to do to your muscles to prepare them to move those weights? When you finish your work out what are you going to do after you put the weights and toys away?

I’m Hot Enough and Ready to Lift

Regardless of the workout you are about to perform, your muscles need to be stretched and activated. Active, static stretching – stretches that you perform on your own – such as reaching for your toes or pulling your knee towards your chest, help prepare various muscles for exercises. These same stretches are beneficial post exercise to undo repetitive motions from workout exercises, such as the repeated hip extension during a squat.

If you plan to have a more active workout, incorporating various planes of motion, then dynamic warm-up exercises are required. While squats and deadlifts primarily work in the sagittal plane, the work on the LPHC is demanding, so dynamic movements, such as clamshells can help open the hips and ready them for lifting.

The most important aspect of your warm up? Warm up the muscles you are actually going to use during the workout. Don’t just walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes if you plan to lift some dumbbells over your head. Don’t do push ups if you plan on squatting in a rack.

But I Just Wanna Lift Already

The weights aren’t going anywhere. If you are in a rush and can’t incorporate a warm up to your program, then change the program. Remove a set or entire exercise. Your body needs to be prepared for weights. Do some basic static stretching first and then walk over to your favorite bench or platform. I am guessing since you love to lift, then you know how heavy you can go. So – take your 1 rep max bro and cut it in half. Warm up for 10 reps at that weight, add a plate, and do 10 more. Warm up complete.

Post Lifting

Don’t just drop the weights and walk away. Sit for a couple of minutes, then re-rack your weights and put your shit away. Then stretch again.

Do chest bro? Grab the edge of a door and stretch your pecs. Did you work those legs? Lay down and pull your knee straight to your chest for 30 seconds. Release and then pull your knee across your chest to stretch your butt – also 30 seconds. Finally, hop on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes and walk a slow pace.

Hopefully you can incorporate some warm ups and cool downs, because really bro – that waddle post leg day isn’t really sexy. And that sideways walk through the door or down a hallway after chest – please – fix it. Seriously – fix it. You are more appealing when flexible than as a fixed object.

Keli Hay is a certified personal trainer using her weight loss success to help others.

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