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I'm doing StrongLifts 5x5 for close to two months now. I'm happily making steady progress. All the excitement of lifting personal best weight every other day in gym got diluted last week.

I wanted to improve my number of pullups from 6 to 12, so I started a 30 day 'The Fighter Pullup By Pavel' last week. Because rest time between sets isn't mentioned in the program, I adopted Grease To The Groove method (spreading sets through out the day), as per Pavel's suggestion in one of his forums. After 2 days into the program, in one of the sets, I didn't do any warmup and got my shoulder-tricep area injured. Its painful but that is not what I am worried about the most, I'm giving it some rest and it will be cured.

What worries me is doing a simple pullup without warmup injured me. I'm currently Squatting 1.3 times and deadlifting 1.5 times my bodyweight. Do these numbers mean anything outside in realword? Because when I need to lift a heavy object or another person of comparable (or bit less) weights in gym, it is ridiculous to do incremental warmup sets before. It simply isn't possible. Does that mean I'll get injured?

One of the motivations for getting stronger is to lift my girl friend, who is of my current body weight. One cannot say that I need to warmup everytime before lifting her. Is warmup before lifting really necessary in real world outside the gym? How do these lifting numbers inside gym translate into real world? What is the safe weight I can lift outside gym without warmup ?

  • I think you should refine what you mean by "lifting". Picking up a shoe or doing near maximal lifts? You can obviously lift up some things without much concern, but the more muscle exertion you put out there the more you'll want those muscles and connective tissue to be ready. – Eric Nov 15 '15 at 6:28
  • @EricKaufman: By "lifting" I am referring to near maximal lifts. – claws Nov 15 '15 at 9:23
  • What was the injury? And it's unrelated to your direct question, but doing StrongLifts plus a pull-up program is a major sign of fuckarounditis. Better to pick a program and focus on it. – Dave Liepmann Nov 16 '15 at 13:04
  • @DaveLiepmann: 1. I don't know how to describe injury. But it hurts in the upper tricep & shoulder area, when I push my elblow back (as if I'm doing dumbell row). Injury doesn't seem to be major one, its been a week now and I think pain is reduced by large extent. It still pains but only lightly. I stopped doing pullups. 2. Should I stop doing fighter pullup program strongfirst.com/the-fighter-pullup-program-revisited I read that pullups/chinups are a useful assistance exercise. So I want to improve my pullups from 6 to 12. – claws Nov 17 '15 at 7:25
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The goal is to get strong enough that lifting your girlfriend is not a near-maximal effort. If she weighs as much as you do then this is entirely reasonable. Get to a 5RM of 1.5xBW squat and 2xBW deadlift and carrying your girlfriend 10 yards won't be a considerable effort.

In general, one should walk around able to do the things they want to do. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to warm up one's joints in the morning, so that you can enjoy full mobility throughout the day. This can be as complex as an hour of yoga practice or as simple as some arm circles, toe touches, and a squat. Personally I like Hindu push-ups, a 3rd-world squat, leg swings, and arm rotations. If you are stagnant (say, sitting or lying down) for a prolonged period of time during the day, it can help to repeat the morning's mobilization.

  • Yes sir! You said the same thing in response to my question on lifting my girlfriend. I am precisely working todwards the goals suggested by you. – claws Nov 17 '15 at 7:25
  • morning mobility exercises, that is all? Then can I safely lift say my near maximal load (keeping in mind, shape of the load)? – claws Nov 17 '15 at 11:57
  • @claws That's not what I said. A morning mobilization keeps you prepared for a larger variety of submaximal efforts. Getting stronger makes your submaximal efforts closer to what are now your maximal efforts. The only safe preparation for a maximal effort is proper warm-up funneling to that effort. – Dave Liepmann Nov 17 '15 at 12:09
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You will need warmups even when it's not a maximal effort. At age 38 I have had pain for days from lifting a 40-pound bike. I think learning how to warm up to prevent this was one of the most functional skills I learned in the weight room.

You don't warm up for lifting your girlfriend by doing several sets with a nearby child, though. Simply warm up your upper body with some of these swimmer warmups (thanks John P), the lower body with these runner warmups, and the wrists with these wrist warmups.

The key is learning from your injuries. Which warmups you must do or you'll get hurt, and even better, what's wrong with your movement pattern that made you get hurt in the first place. If I pick up my bike while using my lower traps to keep my upper back tight, I don't get hurt. So I just make sure they're warmed up before I start any similar lift.

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Lets try to answer this question now differently. First it is impossible to make a proposal on a 'safe' weight as you may saw in one of the previous answeres someone had pain after moving a bike of 40 pounds ... (Im not sure if the age is really relevant to the pain though). However, we need to find out what it is, that we 'feel' is heavy to prepare the body with some kind of activity, not to injure ourself while doing what we aimed for. There are following factors that are important for the equation:

  • Genetics: Are we somewhow in a disadvantage? By that I mean if there are any bone structure discrepancies, fascial tissue weaknesses to be prone to hernia, body type etc.

  • Lifestyle: Are we doing manual labourer work? Are we somewhow involved in physical activities where we lift, move, push or drag things regurarily ex. Wheightlifting, Combat Sports etc.

This is defining our sense of what is heavy for each person individualy.

Now that we know who we are and what we can do, we need to set some realistic goals, 'I want to lift my Girl' is not verify specific as there is a big difference in lifting a living and a dead object, also what hight, what distance etc. The technique for the objects you want to lift also may vary so this leads us to a certain aknowledgement already. The strategy Im proposing is to raise your ability to lift a certain weight where you currently feel is heavy to be your starting warm-up weight - so that the actual warm-up is not needed. So how do we do this?

We need to selected the exercises that are transfering the most to every day movements, examples are: Deadlift, Front-, Zercher-Squats, Overhead press and flat bench press. For the assistance movements (movements that support and enhance the major exercises) I would suggest calisthenics aka bodyweight movements to achieve also a healthy muscular balance. Even incorporating Single limb exercises (like one arm snatches, windmills, bend press, pistols etc.) would be recommended to tax the even most hidden muscle and force the body to act as one unit.

Now the most Important part. You need to do the work, on a regular basis! The main movements need to be trained at least twice a week and increase the stress regurarily. Example: First session: 5 singles with 85% of max Second session: 6 singles with 85% of max ... till you reach 15 singles. After that I would suggest adding some weight and continue at 5reps again. The assistence exercise would be 4 to 5 sets asmrap. For the single limb exercises doing double and tripples would be enough or simply using prillipin table as reference.

What will happen is the following; Due to the new situation your body is facing, you will feel terrible :-) but that will be soon gone and you will notice an increase of your PRs pretty fast, but you need to be carefull and listen to your body as muscles get used to stress quicker then tendons and if you start feeling small soreness (not pain) on your wrists or elbow joints you should do a week where you just do the main exercises and no other exercise in the following maner. You start ramping with the bar and just do singles until you reach a weight where your form break down (take your time and do small weight jumps). Then call it a day.

After you have been patient and consistent a couple of month, you will have changed the sensibility of your golgi tendons and will have a different feeling about what is heavy and what not. You will be able to lift things without warm-up for that you needed a warm up before ... I m sure your girlfriend will notice a change in your body composition too.

  • What are "the big 4 + calisthenics "? – claws Nov 15 '15 at 9:24
  • big4= deadlift, bench press, squats, overhead press and calisthenics are bodyweight movements assisting or extendibg the big4 – mitro Nov 15 '15 at 11:51
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    but how does this answer the question if warm-ups are necessary before lifting in the real world? – user8119 Nov 17 '15 at 11:09
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    If I am used to lift heavy stuff on a regular basis the safe Limit of what you can lift without the need to warm up and not injure yourself will increaae – mitro Nov 17 '15 at 11:19

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