I'm following a 3x5 weight lifting program based off of the Stronglifts and Starting Strength programs. I've been starting with warm-up sets of gradually increasing weight, as suggested by Stronglifts and Starting Strength. For example Starting Strength recommends the following warm-up for a 225 lbs work set of squats:

  • 5 reps at 45 lbs
  • 5 reps at 45 lbs (again)
  • 5 reps at 95 lbs
  • 3 reps at 135 lbs
  • 2 reps at 185 lbs

After warming up as above, a lifter would then do his 3 sets of 225 lbs x 5 reps.

I've been warming up in this style, but I find it really tedious and time consuming. Adding/removing plates after every set, and then double-checking to make sure I haven't made a mistake like putting more weight on one side than the other (I've done this more times than I care to admit)... it just really sucks my enthusiasm out of my workout. I'd like to get my 3-exercise workout (Squat/Bench Press/Barbell Row, or Squat/Overhead Press/Deadlift) down to a half hour or less, whereas with all the warm up sets it usually takes me more than an hour at present.

So my question is, is there an alternative way I could be warming up that's faster and less tedious? I don't want to increase my risk of injury by insufficiently warming up. But if there's a way to reduce the amount of patience needed for my workouts it'd be great. Just one idea I had - what if I just did like 15 fast reps with 1/3-1/2 of the work weight and then did my work sets? (That might be a terrible idea for all I know. I'm just speculating at what might work).

1 Answer 1


I nix the second set at 45 pounds, but do full sets of five for all my warm-ups. With deadlifts I take bigger jumps: 145x5, 215x5, 285x5, then my work set at 340x5.

Building up gradually is a great way to avoid injury. There's a limit to how much you can omit before you start rolling the dice. I'm not a big believer in the lasting efficacy of a half-hour Starting Strength workout.

  • 1
    Agreed. The warm-up sets are also a great opportunity to focus on form. The time it takes to switch plates around should be all the rest you need between warm-up sets, so it's not really wasting any time.
    – user3085
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 20:47
  • Completely agree. I also find that with some exercises I need a longer warm-up period than with others. Deads and squats take a while for me to get to the point where I'm ready to go heavy. Bench less so. Commented May 8, 2012 at 2:27
  • @RobertKaucher How do you know if you're ready to go heavy or not? What does that feel like? Commented May 8, 2012 at 3:06
  • @JoshuaCarmody For me, it's when I've found my groove, and I'm both mobile enough and tight enough, each in the right spots. Commented May 8, 2012 at 3:20
  • +1 to Dave's explanation. But to go into a little more detail, it is a feeling based on experience. I can feel the blood in my hamstrings and glutes and I know I can make the jump into heavier weights like 345 and 365. Commented May 8, 2012 at 13:01

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