Your warm-up kills your workout… and wins

By | 2 August, 2022
Christian Thibaudeau

Many well-known trainers have their own warm-up routines: Wenning’s warm-up, DeFranco’s warm-up, etc. What is the Thibaudeau warm-up?

That does not exist. Just do what is necessary. My philosophy is to do as little “stuff” as possible to work properly and safely during the session.

And that depends on what you’re going to train and your current physical condition. You won’t need the same thing when you wake up stiff and sore after a tear as you need to feel nice and limber before your arm session.

Anything that doesn’t directly contribute to improving the next workout is a waste of time, energy, resilience, and neural drive. In fact, warming up for too long can significantly reduce the “effective work” you can do by causing core fatigue.

Central fatigue has nothing to do with how you feel. It simply refers to a weakening of the central arousal impulse sent to the muscles. As central fatigue accumulates, the arousal drive weakens and becomes less effective in recruiting and activating high-threshold motor units, and thus fast-twitch muscle fibers. This results in less growth stimulation and less potential for strength, power and speed.

Any physical activity can (and does) cause central fatigue. This is especially true for activities of significant duration, those that cause discomfort, and those with a high level of sensory input, as is the case with most myofascial exercises, mobility exercises, and peripheral activation exercises. Additionally, core activation exercises like jumping jacks and throws can cause core fatigue due to their explosive nature.

I’m not saying warming up will completely destroy your session. But EXCESSIVE heating output has an absolutely negative effect.

I was “raised” to do 5 minutes of light exercise (treadmill, stationary bike, etc.) and then start with the first exercise and gradually increase the weight until I had my first working set. Sometimes I would do up to 5-7 of these warm-up sets; other times it would be 2-3 depending on how the movement feels. And that’s what most lifters have done.

If I felt constrained in areas that would negatively impact my core practice, I would do some mobility work for that region. If I didn’t feel restricted, I wouldn’t do it.

If you’ve had some muscle soreness, you can do a small amount of self-myofascial release. But I would prefer to change my training plan: Myofascial Release simply has a pain-relieving effect. It decreases the pain signal but doesn’t solve the problem. So you could end up training a muscle that shouldn’t be trained for a few days. Crushing an injured body part can make the situation worse.

When I was feeling lethargic and lazy, I would do some jumping jacks or medicine ball throws to gain strength. But if I was motivated from the start, I wouldn’t do it.

Do you see what I’m getting at with this? Always try to do as little work as possible to prepare for your workout.


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