How to warm up before squats


Squats are arguably the most important exercises you'll do as part of your training regime. Equally, they are some of the most difficult to master.  This compound movement is ideal for strength building as well as muscle gain. 

We've talked before about how to squat. 

But what about before you head over to the squat rack?


Why warm up 

Many of us know that it's important to warm up. But why? And if you're not sure about the details on why you're doing something, you're not equipped with the knowledge to be able to get the most out of your workout. 

Our advice? Get the foundations right and then build from there. After all, if you start out right, you've got a much better chance of optimising your workout for maximum strength and muscle gains.   


How to warm up 

If you know why you're doing something, you're much more likely to do it right.  So, what are we actually aiming to do when we warm up?  Warming up is about preparing the muscles to do a workout.

This includes: 

  • Raising your heart rate to increase the blood flow to your muscles. This helps to make the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles more readily available so that they are able to work to their full potential. 
  • Raising your core body temperature – this is about warming up your muscles – quite literally – so that they're more pliable. Once you are physically warm, you're able to move onto doing some dynamic stretches which will help further prepare your body. 
  • Dynamic stretches are designed to improve your range of motion without stressing your body. And even though they're called stretches, you're not looking to increase your flexibility. It's the next step in preparing your body for the physical stress of your workout. Dynamic stretches are quick, repetitive movements such as lunges with an upper body twist, forward leg swings with a toe touch or knee to chest grabs. 
  • Dilating your blood vessels – this will just help you work out more easily as your heart is able to pump your blood round your body more easily. 
  • Starting to sweat – warming up should involve working up a sweat. This means your body is ready to cool down when you start to get too hot. 
  • Ease yourself in. Sharp, sudden movements or doing anything that might shock your body could open you up to injury. Even though you're always looking to mix things up, it's really important to make sure your body is in the right state to be worked hard first. That's regardless of whether you're about to squat, deadlift or perform a crushing session of supersets. 
  • Hormone secretion –  When you start warming up, specific hormones are secreted. These help to provide your body with additional carbohydrates and fatty acids. They're vital for helping you to optimise your workout.    


Squat warm up 


It's important to warm up - no matter what exercises you're doing at the gym. And warming up before squats is particularly important: 

  • Squats involve lots of different muscle groups. So, it's important to have warmed up your whole body before you start adding weights. 
  • Squats require a good amount of flexibility. Squatting without warming up first could put you at risk of injury, as well as shortening your squat trajectory. 
  • Squats put a lot of pressure on your knees and hips. Warming up is a good way of preparing your joints to take the strain. 
  • Warming up is a great way of 'testing' your body to check you haven't developed any niggles or injuries. This is always best done when you're not already loaded with weights at the squat rack.   


Good warm up exercises

Whether you’re at home with your squat rack, or at the gym, warming up should be a key part of every workout you do.

Remember your goal is to get everything ready for your weightlifting regime. It’s a good idea to make sure you warm up for around 20 minutes.

However, as long as you feel warm, your weight rate is up and you have done your dynamic stretches, you might want to spend less time on your warm up routine to make sure you don’t expend too much energy before strength training.



Get your heart rate up:

Start off with a jog – either on the treadmill or outside, up and down the road. Then you can move onto high knees, jumping jacks, wall runs and step ups. Skipping is also great for getting your heart rate up.  


Dynamic stretches:


These are great for getting everything loosened up. Common dynamic stretches include:

  • knees to chest
  • forward leg swings with toe touch
  • butt kicks on the spot
  • lunges with upper body twist
  • hip and shoulder rotations
  • spotty dogs
  • calf raises (calf raises will also help loosen up your toe joints).

Once you feel even warmer, you might want to finish off with a few burpees, tuck jumps, squat jumps and sprints.


Loosen up your joints:

Squats require a good amount of flexibility – especially in your joints. Doing joint rotations regularly is really important for joint health. Foam rollers can also help with joint flexibility. Use on your ankles, glutes, hips and behind your knees to help increase your range of motion before doing any squats.


Open up your hips:

Breaking at the hips is an important part of doing squats. Make sure your hip joints feel ready and warmed up before you start loading on the weights. This includes hip flexor stretches - low lunges, hold and increase the stretch when you’re ready by pushing your hips further forward. You also need to stretch your inner thighs. Sit in a crossed leg position but with your heels touching and lean forward, and isolate each leg by doing low, side lunge stretches. You might also want to do some Yoga stretches such as child’s pose and the cobra to loosen up your back.  



Before you load up your weights, make sure you do some practice squats and build up to a heavier weight load. You can start off without any weights to just get a feel for them. This is a good opportunity to concentrate on aligning your centre of gravity, and getting that fluid motion right. Then move onto squats with just the bar. When you feel ready, move onto your weights and build from there.


And there you have it! Remember - when you warm up, don't push yourself too hard. Your joints and muscles won’t be ready for deep stretches, so these are best saved for after your workout. Also remember to eat properly a couple of hours before your workout routine. Trying to follow your training regime on an empty stomach will mean you won’t be at your peak.

So be prepared, eat well, drink plenty of water and warm up properly before you work out.