Priming Exercises You Should do Before Lifting Weights

Nov 4, 2022 mindpump

Priming before your workout has to be one of the best things you can do to enhance your workout. I first learned about priming when working as a strength coach at a division I school. We ALWAYS had the athletes start up with a dynamic warm-up that was SPECIFIC to the areas they were hitting that day.

The problem with generic warm-ups is they aren’t addressing any issues that may come up during a workout. For example, if all you do is go for a 5 minute run on the treadmill, how is that preparing your joints and ligaments for a bench press or any upper body movement? What if you have tight shoulders or can’t retract your shoulder blades properly? You will be putting yourself at risk for greater injury if you don’t open up those weaker areas so that you can perform the movement properly.

The other thing to note is that priming your body before a workout is so individual to the person so giving you guys a workout is a little hard. What may be needed for one person might be ineffective for the other. Let’s take a squat for example. If one person has knees that cave in, then I may have them do monster walks with the resistance bands to help them cue pushing their knees out. If another person can’t figure their glutes, I’ll have them use floor bridges to get a strong contraction in the glutes and activate the hips. If a third person always rounds forward, I’d have them do wall presses to address pulling the shoulder blades back.

So as you can see, there is no one size fits all workout, and you need to figure out what YOUR weak areas are. Choose exercises that will help address those, so that when you get to the squat or whatever exercises you are about to do that day, you have grooved the proper patterns ahead of time.

What I can try to do is give some very general guidelines on a good priming workout before your big lifts. Think of the body as 3 different components: Lower body (hips and knees), Thoracic (spine mobility, trunk stabilization), and the Upper Body (shoulders, and scapula). If ALL areas are weak, find one exercise for each area and do 3 sets of 10-15 reps or 20 seconds for each movement.


Lower – Combat Stretch or 90/90 drill – 3×20 sec each side

Thoracic – Lizard with Rotation – 3×10 each side

Upper Body – Banded Rows – 3×15-20 (2 second squeeze at the end range)


Lower – SL toe touches – 3×10

Thoracic – Windmills – 3×10 each

Upper – Superman into Retraction – 3×12


Thoracic – Thread the Needle – 3×10 each side

Upper – Banded Rows, Wall Circles – 3×10-15

Overhead Press

Thoracic – Windmills – 3×10

Upper – Handcuffs to Rotation, Wall Presses 3×10-12

If you want a more detailed guide, or set workout that does all this work for you, check out our MAPS Prime program where we will test each area to see what areas need more focus.

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