Mike Mentzer's Workout Video
What if you could get into the best shape of your life, training for only 20 minutes twice a week?
Mike Mentzer claimed that with High Intensity Training you could actually reach your full muscular potential in only one year!
Go to Mike Mentzer HIT DVD
One of the main contention points over high-intensity training, or HIT, is the idea that it can serve as your complete fitness solution, from cardio to muscle and everything in between. For real diehards of the original protocol, that idea even extends to warm-ups.
Regardless of how strongly HIT addresses various points of total fitness, warm-ups figure directly into your safety. The idea of NOT specifically warming up makes folks nervous.
So, can you safely skip warming up when you’re using high-intensity training?
Let’s look at the factors involved.
First, it’s important to understand where the idea of skipping warm-ups with HIT came form
Because HIT generally involves choosing a weight with which you can perform 8-12 reps in a slow, controlled fashion, you will be using well less than your maximum load. Since your muscles will be capable of exerting much more force than that reduced load calls for early in a set, you won’t be straining to complete those first few reps.
At the same time, blood will begin to flow to the trained area and warm up your muscle groups and nearby joints. By the time you get to the end of the set where you ARE training hard and when your form might break down, you will be fully “warmed.”
Similarly, because you begin each workout with large muscle groups and then move toward smaller ones, all but the first muscles trained will benefit from the systemic warm-up that your workout produces. By the time you’re doing biceps curls, then, there should be very little need for further warm-up.
That’s the theory.
While the basic argument of a self-warming workout makes sense when you read it, it has several drawbacks.
First, even though you will be using less weight than your absolute max, you WILL be using big loads (for you), at least eventually. Subjecting your spine, hips, and legs to, say a few hundred pounds on the squat with zero warm-up is an invitation to injury. That’s especially true as you get older.
Second, it’s not just your muscles that need to warm up in order to be your best during a workout. Your heart and lungs need to be coaxed out of their sedentary pre-workout state, and you can really feel the difference in your breathing during cold weather. If you jump right into a hard workout when the air is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less without gradually building up your heart and breathing rate, expect some tightness and shortness of breath. The synovial fluid that protects your joints also needs heat and time in order to function properly.
Third, a warm muscle contracts harder than a cold muscle, and that means more strength and mass over time.
When you weigh all of the evidence, the prudent course of action when it comes to warm-ups is to perform just enough to set you up for a safe and productive workout without wearing yourself out. Here are some tips to help out:
At this point, you can decide to dive into your workout or do another warm-up set or two depending on how you feel. When you move to a different bodypart, you won’t need such an extensive warm-up but can perform a couple of light sets to get in touch with the movement.
Of course, ever body is different, so you should talk to your trainer or doctor about what’s best for you.
In general, though, you should always warm up before working out, even if you are using HIT.