The 5 minute Squat Warmup For Longevity and Resiliency

Why Warm Up Before Squats?

Do you want to know how to warm up before squats? Then you came to the right place. This is the warm-up I have all my clients do whether they are bodybuilders, powerlifters, weightlifters, or crossfitters. All my clients start with this warm-up, but it may get adapted if needed based on their goals.

Key Components of a Good Squat Warm-Up

Importance of Full Range of Motion

When squatting, especially if you are squatting ATG, you take your ankles, knees, and hips to their end range of motion. As a result, your squat warm-up should do the same and be specific to the squat movement.

What Not to Do in a Squat Warm-Up

Avoid Static Stretching

Generally, you should avoid static stretching unless you have a specific tight area limiting your squat. Research has shown that when you static stretch for over 45 seconds, peak strength and power decrease. This defeats the purpose of the warm-up! I generally only recommend static stretching for very specific scenarios. If you have to stretch before you squat, then you likely need more mobility work. Stretching is just masking the problem.

Breaking Down the Squat Warm-Up

I like to break up my squat warm-up into three stages: break a sweat, load through my joints’ full range of motion, and squat-specific exercises.

Stage 1: Breaking a Sweat

Breaking a sweat with your squat warm-up means getting your heart rate up. It could be walking to the gym, doing a couple of minutes on the incline treadmill, or biking. Getting your heart rate up releases adrenaline and endorphins. It also generally just loosens your body. You only need a couple of minutes of this. It shouldn’t be fatiguing or get in the way of your squat warm-up.

Stage 2: Full Range of Motion Exercises

Incorporating full range of motion of the ankle, hips, and knees into your squat warm-up is considered mobility. Your body’s ability to actively go through its full range of motion is important.

Bodyweight 3-2-1 Squat

Set up in your normal squat stance and descend into the bottom over 3 seconds. In the hole, hold for 2 seconds. On the way up, pause halfway up and hold for 1 second, then finish the rep. Hence the name 3-2-1 pause squat. This is great as it is very specific to a squat and focuses on muscle activation at the most difficult parts of the lift: the hole and sticking point.

Deep Lunge

With one leg, take a wide step so you are in a split stance. Put around 80% of your weight on your front leg. Slowly descend into a deep lunge. The front leg will reach its full knee and ankle flexion and dorsiflexion, respectively. Both of these occur during a deep squat. The back gets an awesome stretch of the hip flexors.

Open and Close the Gate

The purpose of this exercise is to actively rotate the hips through their full range of motion. Grab the squat rack for stability. Lift one leg up with a bent knee as far as you can. Open the gate by rotating your leg out to the side and back down. Perform in the opposite direction to close the gate.

If you are liking the guide so far I created as easy to follow checklist you take with you to the gym so you don’t forget what to do. Check it out here.

Stage 3: Squatting

Warming Up for Heavy Squats (Less than 6 Rep Sets)

The most important part of your squat warm-up is squatting. If you were only going to do one exercise as a warm-up, it would be this. How you warm up depends on how heavy you are lifting.

I always recommend doing a set of 10-15 reps with the bar. Follow this with 5 reps at 50% of your working weight, 3 reps at 75%, and 1 rep at 90%. Following this pattern ensures you are warmed up but doesn’t fatigue you. By doing too many warm-up sets and reps, you risk limiting your working weight capacity. This rep scheme prevents that.

Warming Up for Lighter Squats (More than 6 Reps)

When squatting lighter (more than 6 reps), it is important to adjust your squat warm-up. I still recommend doing a set or two of 10-15 reps with the bar. From there, do 10 reps with 50% of your working weight for the day, 5 reps with 75% of your working weight, and 3 reps with 90% of your working weight for the day.

Final Thoughts

This is the most efficient squat warm-up and is what I start most of my clients with. This warm-up shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes, and you will be ready to squat. If I am really pinched for time, I will skip the break-a-sweat step and focus on the last two steps. Give this a try if you are really pressed for time.

P.S.: Get the free squat guide here.

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