You must have heard that it is a bad idea to walk into the gym and do your first set. Wondering why? Let me tell you.
Working as a Platinum Trainer at one of India’s top health clubs has given me a lot of experience and knowledge, mostly due to sheer observation. Very often I watch busy looking clients rush into the club, wave at everyone, spend a mere minute doing some form of warm up. This involves swinging their upper and lower limbs and then, they march straight to the weights section followed by the so-called standard protocol 3 sets per exercise.
To most people who just come to relieve themself off work stress with a quick workout it won’t matter much. But to serious lifters, pre-workout warm-up should be a staple. But there is more to it than just psyching oneself up before entering the gym.
Let Us Talk About The CNS (Central Nervous System) And Its Role
To simply put it, every time we do a task the CNS sends signals through the efferent nerves connected to the motor unit in the muscle. This helps muscles control the contraction. The more the load is lifted, the more the motor units are recruited. However, to perform a challenging task with greater efficiency that particular action has to be performed multiple times, till the CNS is familiar with what is going on.
General dynamic mobility will not suffice for your first set; you need to perform a few prep sets before attempting the first set. And before you begin your prep set with really lightweights, complete a good warm-up routine. Follow the second and third prep set by increasing the poundage. After 5 to 6 reps, the CNS familiarizes with what is happening. Now your brain is more adapted to the joint action and the load, hence performing the set with greater efficiency is simpler.
Let’s say, your poundage for a 3 reps max is 150 kg and you can do it with ease. But if you were woken up at 3 a.m. and rushed to the power cage to do the same weight, what would happen? Not only would you be shocked and confused but also mentally incapable to lift that weight.
Why? Your CNS was not ready. Now, have 6 shots of espresso, freshen up, warm up and then perform the same set gradually. Tell me would you or would you not be able to do it? When it comes to efficiency and practice, this is how the central nervous system works. Hence to conclude apart from warm up drills and warm up sets, prep sets are very important for performance at the gym.