A proper, progressive warm-up is essential to both preventing injury and enabling you to get the most out of your time spent training. This is particularly important when beginning a new training program or coming back after a long layoff. Unfortunately, in the rush to dive into sets and reps, warming up is a phase of training that is very often overlooked.

Many lifters think that one or two light sets will suffice. But a good warm-up not only prepares body systems, tissues and muscle, but it also unlocks full range of motion, excites the nervous system and incorporates specific movement prep. It can also help to give you a head start on post-workout recovery and minimize your risk of injury. Check out these six keys to warming up properly.