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Warm Up Program For A Heavy Squat

The 1 repetition maximum (1RM) back squat test is commonly used to quantify lower extremity strength, assess strength imbalances, and evaluate training programs in athletes (Terzis 2009). Studies have suggested that a warm-up routine before the back squat test is ideal. We are not sure what type of warm up exercises will completely prepare us for the max lift. It is safe to say that a dynamic warm up before lift is more effective static stretching before executing 1RM tests. Most who use static stretching before exercise think they are increasing flexibility and warming up their bodies, but the majority of studies have shown that this increases the risk of injury.

It is safe to say that a good warm-up can give you a better chance of preventing training injuries, a good warm up program can result in more weight lifted. The more weight you can lift safely during any one training session the better your strength training gains. The general warm up is important but it is the specific exercise warm up that, when done wrong, can leave weight on the rack (Terzis 2009)..

If I Shouldn’t Stretch Before Exercise, What Dynamic Warm Up Should I Do?

When we use a dynamic warm-up routine before an exercise that uses maximal force and power, we need to make sure we are fully warm up so we can enhance an athlete’s performance. Dynamic warm-up exercises emphasize progressive, whole-body, continuous movement (Terzis 2009). These exercises can be performed by using running drills that include forward, lateral, and change of direction movement (running forward/backwards, skipping, high knees, karaoke’s, and shuffles). Other dynamic warm-up exercises are squats, lunges, burpees, jumping jacks and ball slams. What we do with our athletes is give them a warm up that simulates the movements that they will be doing during their program.

Is Plyometrics Effective as a Warm Up?

Another warm-up routine has been recognized in the fitness world for enhancing strength and power performance is plyometric exercises. Using a plyometric warm-up routine can be performed very quickly in a small area. Studies have found that a warm-up routine using a low-volume set of high-intensity plyometric exercises enhances the performance of trained male athletes executing a 1RM back squat.

Terzis (2009) used a preactivity protocol involving plyometrics to prepare athletes for a dynamic lower-body exercise. Five consecutive drop jumps from a 40-cm-high box were reported to enhance squat underhand shot put throwing performance. This result may be attributed to the phenomenon of postactivation potentiation (PAP). PAP takes advantage of the contractile history of a muscle to influence the mechanical performance of subsequent muscle contractions. Prior resistance training experience appears to play a strong role in an individual’s responsiveness to a protocol using PAP.
It is important to know that dynamic movement and plyometrics can go hand in hand for a complete warm-up. When we work with parents and athletes the dynamic warm up consists of 5-10 minutes of low-intensity aerobic activity followed by 8-12 minutes of sport-specific movements. It could also be changed for every resistance training sessions. Five minutes of an overall body warm-up where the temperature, breathing, and pulse are elevated accompanied by a slight sweat will automatically lead to the torso area warm-up and lastly, the movement-specific warm-up (Terzis 2009). This can all be done in less than 10 minutes, even in cold weather. A dynamic warm-up routine would be ideal for anybody who are looking to execute a 1RM back squat test because this type of routine can be completed in about 15 minutes.


1. Terzis G, Spengos K, Karampatosos G, Manta P, and Georgiadis G. Acute effect of drop jumping on throwing performance. J Strength Cond Res 23: 2592-2597, 2009.

Written by Chris Barber, CPT