I’m resting between sets of bench presses, and I notice a guy come in and drop his gym bag next to the squat rack. He throws three plates onto each side of the bar, warms up with a quick check of his nose hairs in the mirror, and then settles in for his lift. What luck: I am present for the setting of a new land speed record, 0-300 in about ten seconds flat.
My high school band teacher always insisted that the proper way to warm up is not to pick out the highest note you can play and blow it as long and loudly as you can. Likewise, a warm up in the gym needs to be a thoughtful process that maximizes strength while minimizing the risk of injury.
The specifics aren’t critical; you’ve warmed up adequately when you’re ready to hit your first heavy set at full weight. My father, in his home gym, first picks up all the ping pong balls so inconsiderately left on the floor by his kids the night before. At the club, I warm up with a 5 minute stroll on the treadmill, combined with three progressively heavier sets of the first lift I plan to perform.
And what happened with Minuteman over at the squat rack? No, he didn’t tear a quad muscle or rip apart his knee. In fact, he didn’t squat deep enough to do much of anything at all.