The warm-up is an activity that prepares the body to perform more demanding activities. In this case I am referring to the bodies of accomplished, highly proficient weightlifters who have mastered excellent technique and are not in need of any technical reinforcement. Many of them may have prior injuries that will require some additional warming-up of specific areas in the body, but that is an additional topic.
The function of the warm-up becomes increasing the temperature of the body. Keeping in mind that elevated temperature increases the speed of chemical reactions and decreases the viscosity of the tissues of the skeletomuscular system, the warm-up should be conducted in such a manner that it achieves the elevated temperature while minimizing caloric expenditure.
The warm-up should also minimize the stiffness and soreness in the joints that may be triggered by the previous training or trainings. In a well established training program, much of these problems will be taken care of by appropriate restorative measures after the previous workout.
Light calisthenics are also effective at increasing global circulation and generating a temperature increase. The amount of calisthenics should be regulated according to the individual.
Performing shadow lifts, lifts with broomsticks, and then empty bars and then proceeding to light weights is also an effective means of increasing global circulation.
In modern training programs this warm-up should not take much more than five minutes. In fact I’ve been in a number of world championship and Olympic Games training halls and watched with great interest as the top lifters on the planet began their training sessions. The very best lifters spent very little time in the warm-up. Some jumping jacks, some stretches with a broomstick, some lifts with an empty bar and then weight was added to the bar until the functional training threshold was reached.
The functional training threshold weight should be 80% of maximum of the classical snatch and clean and jerk. Studies have shown that 80% weights have the greatest effect at developing both strength and speed characteristics. Increasing the weight beyond 80% will have a greater influence on strength, while decreasing the weight will have a greater influence on speed. To achieve maximum explosiveness in performance, a variety of intensities above and below 80% must be employed in training.
The warm-up should be an activity that increases body temperature with the least amount of caloric expenditure in order that energy can be employed to beneficially train the body. Furthermore in order to include lighter intensities in the training program, the power snatch and power clean and jerk offer opportunities to increase the speed components of the training regimen.
By Bob Takano—Member, USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame