Dynamic Warm-Up for Weightlifting

Olympic weightlifting is a very explosive sport that requires strength, mobility, timing, confidence, and precision. Often, we only read about training programs, exercise variations, and recovery modalities; skipping over some of the most important steps to set an athlete up for success, EVERY TRAINING SESSION.

In this article we will offer weightlifting coaches and athletes a dynamic warm up guide to help improve movement and readiness for training. In addition, we have offered empty barbell warm ups and other flexibility routines to further enhance exercise readiness.

Benefits of an Olympic Weightlifting Warm Up

In a previous article we discussed the benefits of performing a dynamic warm up prior to lifting weights and fitness training. Below, we will recap some of the benefits and discuss how they relate to the sport of Olympic weightlifting.

Mental Preparation

A sound warm up can be a great strategy to increase mental preparation prior to a strenuous training session or competition. Coaches can use this as a way to ritualize every training process to help athletes find routine both in the gym and competition. Additionally, athletes can use the warm up as a way to self access any muscle tightness or problem areas that should be addressed in more focused segments (corrective work).

Neurological Activation

Warm up movements (all sections below) can progressively elevate an athlete’s awareness and focus necessary for more complex weightlifting training. In addition, coaches can use the empty barbell warm ups at the end of this article to enhance timing and speed necessary for the Olympic lifts.

Flexibility and Mobility

Increasing mobility leading into a training session and competition may be acute, however the impact on that training session can lead to better movement in deeper knee and hip angles, shoulder range of motion, and more; all of which can impact an athletes movement under heavy barbells.

Injury Resilience

Lastly, injury resilience is key in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Every athlete will come across acute and nagging injuries time to time, and it is important to prevent these with sound warm up strategies (as well as recovery).

Sample Dynamic Warm Up for Weightlifting

In the below sections we will lay out a potential warm up progression that Olympic weightlifters and coaches can use on a daily basis. Note, that the below sections include a dynamic warm up specific to weightlifting, as well as other optional components, such as; steady state warm ups, static stretching, empty barbell skill work, and plyometrics.

Low-Intensity Exercise

Starting a training session with some low-intensity cardiovascular exercise like rowing, biking, or even some higher intensity jogging and/or jumping rope is a good way to increase the core body temperature and enhance blood flow. This can be done for a few minutes to increase perspiration rates as well, which can be a good sign of readiness for training.

Static Stretching and Foam Rolling

In a recent article we discussed why static stretching may be helpful before training sessions (and why some suggest it might not be), however many high level athletes will find themselves stretching both before and after training. If a coach and athlete decides to statically stretch prior to training, they should do so after a light warm up and making sure not to stretch too aggressively.

Weightlifting Specific Dynamic Warm Up

The below video demonstrates a sample dynamic warm up for Olympic weightlifters. The dynamic warm up includes a joint by joint movement breakdown to increased mobility and movement specific to the sport needs of weightlifting (for the snatch, clean, jerk, and squatting). For best results, perform the below dynamic warm up in a timely manner. The total time should take about five (5) minutes.

  • Ankle Rolls x10/direction/leg
  • Knee and Hip Circles x10/direction/leg
  • Active Side and Forward Bends x10/direction
  • Shoulder Circles/Dislocates x 20
  • Elbow, and Wrist Circles x10/direction/arm
  • Neck Circles x10/direction
  • Bodyweight Squat x20
  • Thoracic Extension in Squat x20
  • Cossack Squat x20
  • Glute Bridge/Raise x20
  • Scapular Push Ups x20
  • Side Planks x1 min/side

Empty Barbell Weightlifting Warm Up

The below video demonstrates how to warm up for the snatch with an empty barbell. This barbell series can be done with large groups and beginners. The below empty barbell routine can be done one or two times before each snatch session, or simply with athletes looking to develop technique and timing of the lifts.

  • Behind the Neck Snatch Press x5
  • Overhead Squat x5
  • Snatch Balance x5
  • Snatch Grip High Pull x5
  • Snatch Pull Under x5
  • Muscle Snatch x5

Plyometrics

Plyometrics training has been discussed in previous articles, each outlining the benefits plyometrics can have on force and power output and athleticism in Olympic weightlifting. Simply integrating bounding jumps, depth drops, and squat jumps within a warm up block can further prepare an athlete for the demands of a weightlifting session.

More Olympic Weightlifting Articles and Guides

Take a look at some of our top Olympic weightlifting training guides!

Featured Image: @J2Fit on Instagram

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.