If you’re like most strength athletes, then you probably aren’t the biggest fan of warming up. You just want to get to the bar and start snatching, cleaning, deadlifting, squatting, etc. As a strength athlete myself, I can relate. Spending 15 minutes on a warm-up sounds boring. I just want to get to the bar and start lifting. So the question begs us, how can a strength athlete, specifically a Weightlifter, spend his or her time warming up effectively while not wasting time on things they don’t want to be doing.
Focus on the Characteristics of the Sport
What are the characteristics of Weightlifting? Weightlifting is a sagittal-plane sport, meaning all of the movement occurs up and down (vertically). Weightlifting is also a sport with a lot of squatting and overhead movement. Not much is going on side-to-side or rotationally. It would make sense then to not spend as much time focusing on warming up in those planks of motion. Weightlifting is also a sport with a lot of rapid acceleration and deceleration, so, it also makes sense to warm-up the tissues with those characteristics in mind. Therefore, if we can break it down a bit more, we’re looking to focus our attention on doing squatting and overhead movements, and then performing these movements at speeds specific to the sport.
Focus on the Sport
As a Weightlifter, focus on the sport as a means to warm-up. Too much time spent on the foam roller or wrapping yourself in bands can likely be a waste of time. The best way to get your body prepped for snatches or clean and jerks is by doing snatches and clean and jerks, or performing broken down movements that mimic those lifts. The best way to use the snatch or clean and jerk as a means to warm-up is by dissecting portions of the lifts out and focusing on those one at a time.
A simple warm-up progression can be as follows: small range of motion/slow movements—large range of motion/fast movements. In this way, you can start with low-skill tasks and build up to more high-skill tasks. A strict press would be an example of a lower-skill task and a snatch would be an example of a higher-skill task. This allows you to add a little more stimulus incrementally and you warm your body up in a way that’s effective for the snatch and clean and jerk.
Below are examples of a snatch, clean, and jerk warm-up that should progress from small, slow movements to large, fast movements. These are general guidelines and not something that is shown to be the only method that works. Many other exercises can fill in as substitutes as part of this warm-up.
Snatch OH Press / Push Press
Snatch Pull (AK, BK, Start)
Clean Pull (AK, BK, Start)
Hopefully these will be some good takeaways to start making your warm-up the most effective!