Start With The Bar By Matt Shiver

A big pet peeve of mine is when I see someone walk into the gym, go straight for the barbell, and then they load their first working set on there with no warm-up. Come on! You are never too strong for the barbell. Why not get a few excellent reps with a barbell before loading the movement pattern?

This is one of my favorite lessons that I learned from Chris Moore in his podcasts. The man could squat over 900 pounds and he would always start with the barbell for the first few sets. More PERFECT practice reps are always going to give you better returns.

The barbell may be less than 10% of your first working set, but that doesn’t mean you should not do it. You need to practice the movement pattern first before loading it. If your form looks like garbage without weight and then it magically becomes better with weight, there is so compromise going on somewhere in the body. You are relying of the external load to create stability for your system, instead of being able to generate it naturally.

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It is even more important to start with the bar if you are doing weightlifting movements. These movements are so fast and explosive, you want to be able to move fast with a barbell before adding weight. If you walk into a back room at a national weightlifting event, you will see almost every lifter begin with the barbell. They spend some time with an empty barbell at the end ranges of motion of the snatch and clean and jerk. You will see some tempo work being done with the barbell. All off this is before a kilo has been loaded to the barbell.

So, don’t think that you are better than these lifters who are putting up national and world records. Take a lesson from them and warm-up with the barbell.

Your warm-up should consist of a few minutes to get the heart rate up, some movement prep based on your limitations, and then bar work. Don’t skip bar work!

I typically do 2-3 sets with the barbell to warm up the shoulders and hips for my weightlifting movements. If I am squatting I will do 1 set. Here is how I attack my bar work for each movement:

Squat Bar Warmup

Done at a slow and controlled tempo, no bouncing
3-5 reps with normal stance
3-5 reps with wide stance
3-5 reps with narrow stance
3-5 reps with one foot in front of another (uneven)
3-5 reps the other foot in front
*I also will change my toeing out as I warm up if I notice my hips are feeling tight

Snatch Bar Warmup

Snatch
Set 1
3-5 RDLs
3-5 Muscle Snatches
3-5 Power Snatches
3-5 Overhead squats

Set 2
3-5 Full Snatches

Set 3 – Optional based on how the first 2 sets are feeling
3-5 Full Snatches

Clean and Jerk Bar Warmup

3-5 RDLs
3-5 Power Cleans
3-5 Front Squat
3-5 Strict Press
3-5 Split Jerk

Deadlift Bar Warmup

Deadlift
5-10 RDLs with barbell only

Bench Press Bar Warmup

1 set of 10 with focus on staying tight in the pause

If you don’t normally warm up with the bar, give this a try! Let me know how it goes!

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