I want to warm up the specific muscle group we are going to be working by performing small sets with lighter weight to prepare our muscles for the coming workload…
First off, I don’t consider walking for 10 minutes on a treadmill as a warm up. It might get the heart pumping and the blood circulating a bit faster but it isn’t going to get your chest ready for a workout.
I don’t like to perform many warm up sets with clients. I find that it tires them out even before we hit our first working set. This means that we can’t handle as much weight and therefore don’t stimulate as much of a growth response.
Most of my clients will perform a few minutes (5-10) of cardio of some sort prior to our session. From there I will usually have people perform the first warm up set of the movement we are doing with about 50% of the working weight for 5-10 reps. The second warm up set will be performed with approximately 75% of the working weight for 3-5 reps. The third and final warm up set will be performed with approximately 90% of the working weight and will only be 1-2 reps.
This approach will get the blood pumping to the muscles being worked as well as develop your co-ordination for the exercise you are about to perform. By performing the last warm up set near your working weight, you can get a good barometer of your level of strength that day. You may feel strong and want to raise your intended working weight or your last warm up weight might have been a struggle and you may want to lower your working weight to stay in the proper rep range.
If you are lifting a heavy weight (for example you are squatting 405lbs), then you would perform more warm up sets starting with a lower percentage of the working weight. I would, however, follow the same amount of reps per warm up set. So by the third warm up set, I would just continue to perform 1-2 reps per set leading up to your working weight. This way you will not tire yourself out with millions of reps performed prior to your working set.
I will generally just perform one warm up like this per muscle group. So if you were working chest, you would follow this warm up for your first exercise and when you move on to your second just perform a couple reps at a weight 75% of what you expect to lift. From there, you can determine if you need a couple more reps to get the co-ordination down.