Upper Body Warm-Up Exercises

Upper Body Warm-Up for the Bench Press

The Mathias Method Strength System emphasizes the importance of a proper warm-up before you begin any strength training routine or workout program. This is to help decrease pain, prevent injury, and fully prepare your body for the workout ahead. This page will go over our Upper Body Warm-Up Exercises for the Bench Press.

Get our complete How To Warm-Up Properly for Strength Training Guide today! And learn why you should NOT do cardio to warm-up before a weight training workout!


Upper Body Warm-Up Exercises for the Bench Press

Bench Press Warm-Up Routine

First, do a complete full body dynamic warm-up routine before you start these Bench Press Warm-Up Exercises.

Then, the next part of the Mathias Method Strength System’s warm-up includes these workout specific warm-up exercises. These are done after your full body dynamic warm-up stretches, and before your muscle activation techniques.

This Upper Body Warm-Up Routine will include a few full range-of-motion exercises and mobility stretches for the chest, back, arms and shoulders. Together these will help prevent injury and increase strength as you teach your body how to move properly for strength.

When you are done with these upper body warm-up exercises, move onto our dumbbell shoulder warm-up exercises for the Bench Press.

For all of our specific workout based warm-up routines, you can check out our How To Warm-Up Properly Guide.

More Warm-Up Routines

See all of our Mobility Stretches or Strength Training Exercises.


Upper Body Warm-Up Exercises

Note: Yes, many of these exercises will seem and look “dorky”. However, they ALL have a purpose!

Arm Circles

Reps: x 10 each direction

Purpose: Improve Shoulder Mobility and Function.

  • With your glutes flexed, core braced and spine neutral, simply circle your arms slowly through their full range of motion in each direction.
  • Do this under control at a slow-moderate pace.
  • Keep your head in line with your torso and do not flex or extend your thoracic (upper) spine.

Horizontal Hug & Open

Reps: x 10 total

Purpose: Improve Scapular Protraction and Retraction Function and Mobility, Pectoral Function, Thoracic Spine Flexion, and Extension Mobility.IMG_2368IMG_2369

  • With your palms facing down, cross your arms in front of your body and wrap them as far around your torso as you can allowing your thoracic (upper) spine to flex forward as needed.
  • Then, reverse the motion externally rotating your hands so that your palms face up as you extend your arms horizontally to your sides and try to pull them together behind you, allowing your thoracic spine to extend backward.
  • Let your scapula protract forward as you hug and retract back to open your chest.
  • Pause at the end of each motion and switch the crossing of your arms in front each time.

Shoulder Flexion-Extension

Reps: x 10 total

Purpose: Improve Shoulder Function, and teach proper shoulder movement.

  • With your glutes flexed, core braced and arms extended, raise your hands over and behind your head as far as you can with palms facing each other.
  • Then lower your extended arms under control and internally rotate your hands to palms facing backward as you extend behind your torso.
  • Do not allow your spine to flex or extend as you go through the full range of motion.
  • Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down as you extend behind your hips.

Single Arm Swings

Reps: x 10 each way

Purpose: Shoulder Joint Synovial Fluid Lubrication and Improve Shoulder Function.

  • With your one arm slightly flexed, circle it at a fast pace through its full range of motion each direction.
  • Be sure to cross your arm in front of your body as you swing it.
  • Go fast, but maintain control of the motion.
  • After going each direction, repeat with the other arm.

Scapular Rotations

Reps: x 10 each direction

Purpose: Improve Scapular Function and Mobility.

  • With your arms flexed about 90 degrees, circle your shoulders forward and backward through their full range of motion in both directions.
  • Ensure that your scapula is moving up and down with the motion and can move freely.

Chest Stretch

Reps: x 10-30 seconds

upper body warm up chest stretch

Purpose: Improve Pectoral and Shoulder Function and Mobility.

  • With your arms extended out horizontally, grasp a stable object with each hand.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and down as you push your chest forward until you feel a slight stretch in your chest.
  • Breathe calmly as you relax into the stretch before starting to move through the tension under control.
  • Maintain tension in your back as you pull your shoulders back actively.

Lat Stretch- Overhand

Reps: x 10-30 seconds

Purpose: Improve Shoulder Flexion and Latimus Dorsi Function and Mobility.

  • Grasp a stable object, near your head height, with an overhand grip (palms down).
  • While maintaining a neutral spine and hips square, extend the same side leg behind you as you lean forward until you feel a stretch in your lat.
  • With your arm and leg fully extended keep a forward torso lean as you attempt to push your head through, in front of your arm.
  • Work through the tension in this position by internally and externally rotating your torso.

Note: If you can flex your arm beyond your ear, then this movement is not necessary.


Doorway Pec Minor Stretch

Reps: x 10-30 seconds

Purpose: Improve Breathing Function, Scapular Elevation, and Depression Function.

  • Standing in a doorway, flex your arms 90 degrees and place the inside of your forearms against the outer frame with your elbows shoulder height.
  • With one foot, step through the doorway until you feel a stretch in your anterior chest.
  • Take deep breaths and relax into the motion to increase the effectiveness of this stretch.
  • By leaning your torso forward you can increase the stretch towards the external rotation of your shoulder.
  • This stretch may also be done one arm at a time against any stable object.

Scapular Protraction Stretch

Reps: x 10-30 seconds

Purpose: Improve Scapular Function and Mobility.

  • With one hand, grasp a stable object at shoulder height with an overhand grip.
  • Step the same side foot back and lean away from your hand.
  • Both internally and externally rotate your entire torso, to and away from your hand allowing for your scapula to stay protracted forward.

After completing these upper body warm-up exercises for the bench press, do our Dumbbell Shoulder Warm-Up Exercises. Then you will be fully warmed up and ready to Bench BIG!


All Warm-Up Routines

See all of our Mobility Stretches or Strength Training Exercises.

For all of our specific workout based warm-up routines, you can check out our How To Warm-Up Properly Guide.

how to warm-up properly for strength training book

Bench Press Warm-Up Exercises

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