You should perform these five steps each and every time you weight train:
- Cardio warm-up (5-8 mins)--Systemic cardiovascular warm-up to holistically get your body ready for what's to come (e.g., bike, rower, treadmill, stairstepper, etc.)
- Joint rotations / dynamic stretching (1-2 sets)--Depending on whichever muscles you intend to work out for the day, be sure to warm-up the associated joint. For example, perform arm-and-shoulder rotations prior to working the chest and back muscles. Perform slow, careful bouncing single-leg deadlifts prior to working the hamstrings.
- Warm-up sets (1-2 sets)--These sets should be at about 50-65% of your working set load to ready your body for what's to come.
- Working sets--Be sure to perform each set using good posture.
- Static stretching (2-4 sets)--Hold each stretch for up to 30 seconds for the muscles that were worked during the workout to help enhance the recovery process. Be sure to exhale your breath while performing a static stretch.
In addition, consider performing sets of relatively high repetitions (e.g., >20 reps) of the same exercises the following day of your heavy workout day to facilitate the recovery process. If you have an existing injury, perform high reps during weight training to lessen further injury while also maintaining your strength level.
BOTTOM LINE: Having an injury should not preclude you from working out. Use common sense and "listen to your body" to guide you on workout intensity. Take time to warm-up prior to your work sets.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."