Have you ever watched tennis players before the game starts?

What you probably don’t see before they get on the court is their general warm up phase. It will likely include a light jog and various large movements of all parts of the body, not fast and not intense. This raises the temperature of the blood which means it flows faster to the working muscle leading to lubrication of the appropriate moving joints.

What we then see when they get on the court and before the call of the umpire to start the match is the specific warm up phase. They go through all the strokes that they will be performing in the game in slow and deliberate form and then with each passing minute slightly upping the ante.

What they are trying to do is arrive at the beginning of the match ready for maximum action. The point I am getting to is that your workout should be prepared for in a similar fashion.

Try this next time you are in the gym about to do a progressive strength workout.

  1. Jump on the rower or cross trainer or treadmill. Go for about 3-5 minutes aiming to get a light sweat on the body by the end.
  2. Go through a whole body routine like reduced range squats, push ups, lunges, bent over rows, rotations, crunches and back extensions – all the major movements of any strength workout. Do this for 2-3 minutes with 20 seconds on each movement and going continuously. Aim to increase range of movement with the completion of each circuit.
  3. Do warm up sets of each exercise in your routine then perform 1-2 working sets of each exercise with a good rest in between. A ‘working’ set is the one that counts. You are aiming for maximum effort in the repetition range your trainer has specified. What this means is that you are REALLY struggling on the last rep of that set – i.e. loss of form. The trick is to maintain good form all the way through until you can’t but don’t go so far you hurt yourself. This usually happens when form is lost and there is a disregard for that fact. We as trainers can help you understand where the safe limits are. It is the way you get progress.

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