How to Warm up and Cool Down Like a Weightlifting Pro

April 19, 2021
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Warming up - properly - is important for a weightlifter. It pumps blood faster throughout the body, which prepares muscles for training. Waking up muscles help reduce risks of injury, which can set weightlifters back for weeks. 

Cool downs on the other hand are preventative measures in weightlifting as it allows the body to recover from the stress of training. By gradually lowering the heart rate to its normal state through stretch exercises and post workout massage, weightlifters reduce the chances of experiencing DOMS and help speed up recovery.

What do weightlifters do to warm up and cool down?

If you are going to spend an hour deadlifting several hundred pounds and bench pressing half your weight, you need to be sure you prepare your body and help it recover afterwards. And we’re letting you in on how weightlifting pros do it. 

Warm Up Routines 

Weightlifters generally do two types of warm ups: general and focused warm up. Allow us to explain. 

A general warm up is - exactly that - a set of general exercises that will wake you up, increase blood flow to  your muscles and raise your body temperature. 

The focused warm up on the other hand further preps your mind and body for activity. These are warm up exercises that closely resemble the training you’re about to do.

General warm up: Use a massage gun

While some weightlifters prefer to do five to ten minute stretching exercises using foam rollers, many opt to use percussive therapy devices, a.k.a massage guns as part of their warm up. The percussive force from these devices promote blood flow, which is important in getting the muscles ready for a workout. 

Also, the modular design of a massage gun helps provide a more concentrated form of therapy, compared to foam rolling. So, if there’s a particular muscle group that you feel needs a little more attention, using a massage gun is more effective. Self massages also don’t require a lot of space to do, unlike foam rolling where you’d need to lay down on the floor to warm up your calves or lower back.


30 seconds on every muscle group

What to do

“Float” the massage gun on your target muscle groups to help prepare them for training. Start on the lower settings first and increase speed, depending on your fitness level.

General warm up: Perform joint circles

Remember - a general warm up doesn’t resemble the exercises you are going to do when you’re training. This type of warm up is composed of - you guessed it - general exercises that help with mobility.

The following joint circles are the go-to of pro weightlifters:

  • Elbow circles
  • Wrist circles
  • Neck circles
  • Arm circles
  • Hip circles
  • Knee circles
  • Good morning(s)
  • Air squats
  • Ankle circles


For every type of joint circle - ten in every direction.

For non-circular exercise/movement - ten reps for each exercise.

After completing the general warm up movements, it’s time to do focused warm up exercises. This further prepares the body and mind for training. Unlike general warm ups, the exercises done here resemble the workouts you will do during training. 

Think of it like shooting drills for basketball players. Same principle. A weightlifter's specific warm up usually involves basic barbell lifts and other dynamic movements like lifting an empty bar.

Focused warm up: Barbells

  • Front squat or Back squat
  • Press
  • Romanian Deadlifts (RDL) or Good morning(s)


Five to ten reps for every type of exercise.

What to do

You can also do squats, then presses, then on to the RDLs as one unbroken set. Do this as one long series for three sets, resting up to three minutes between sets.

Focused warm up: Snatch

  • Snatch grip (RDL)
  • Muscle snatch
  • Snatch grip (press)
  • Overhead squats
  • Power snatch


Do three to five reps for each movement. 

What to do

You can do the series three times, just make sure that you take a three-minute rest between each set. You can do this warm up before starting on snatch - focused parts of your weight training.

Focused warm up: Clean & Jerk

  • Rack stretches
  • Front squats
  • RDLs
  • Muscle clean then press
  • Clean grip overhead squats
  • Power clean and push press
  • Power clean and jerk
  • Clean & Jerk


Do three to five reps for each movement. 

What to do

You can do the series three times depending on your fitness level and need. Take a three-minute rest between each set. You can do this warm up before starting on clean & jerks - focused parts of your training.

Cool Down Routine

After your workout, your body needs help to get your heart rate back to normal, and this is what cool downs do. Abruptly stopping any physical activity can cause blood to pool in your lower extremities, dropping your blood pressure, causing you to get dizzy. 

Cool down: Go on the treadmill

After weight training, get on a treadmill for some cool down cardio.


3 to 5 minutes or longer if you completed an intense training session. 

What to do

Do not go for a jog or run. Go for a slow stride or walk on the treadmill until you feel your heart rate going back to normal.

Cool down: Hamstring towel stretches

Post workout stretching relaxes muscle tension from your training. While there’s not much research yet as to how static stretches help prevent injuries, stretching has been proven to reduce post workout soreness particularly in the calves, quads and hamstrings. 


Hold for 60 seconds for each leg, two reps

What to do

Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Avoid pressing your lower back or your neck on the floor. Take deep breaths and feel your body relax.

  • Put a towel behind one calf or knee.
  • Using the towel, pull up your leg towards your chest, making sure that you keep your leg slightly bent.
  • Hold the position for 60 seconds, then slowly lower your leg
  • Repeat twice
  • Switch to the other leg

Cool down: Rehydrate

After intense workouts, it is important to replenish your body’s water stores. But how much liquid do you actually do after weight training?

What to do

Try to weigh yourself before you start your training for the day. After your workout, weigh yourself again. Any weight you have lost is purely water weight. To rehydrate, you simply have to drink that weight difference in water. 


As a weightlifter, do you need to warm up before training? And do cool down cardio and stretches after lifting sessions? The answer is 100% YES.

What do you think of our warm up and cool down tips? Do you do your warm up routines differently? What other ways do you cool down after an intense training session? Sound off in the comments and let’s chat!