There’s nothing quite like getting into a warm shower on a cold morning. You feel loose, you feel alive and, most importantly, you feel ready to tackle whatever life will throw at you next. The same thing goes for warming up before a workout. You may not think you have time for this important step, but skipping it means losing all the mental and physical benefits while risking injury.
Warm Up Exercises = Injury Prevention
You’re busy. We get it. You don’t have time to do a proper warm up routine, work out, then cool down. You’re lucky to fit exercise into your day at all! But study after study have shown that doing warm up exercises prevents injury and helps to create those long, lean and strong muscles that all of us are working for. So warm up exercises actually keep you safe and make your workout more effective than without!
Static vs. Dynamic
Have you ever watched someone “stretch” before a workout? The process of stretching and holding a position in an effort to warm up is called static stretching. While it has a place in a warm up routine to help reduce stiffness, using it as your sole method of warming up reduces the level of strength and intensity you have during your workout. Stretching cold muscles also increases your risk of injury.
On the other hand, dynamic warm up exercises incorporate movement that gradually increases from low intensity to moderate intensity. Think of a dynamic warm up like a slope that builds you up from nothing to the intensity you need to start your workout. This combination of warm up exercises has proven to be the secret sauce. They are safe, effective and can enhance your range of motion as well as boost your performance.
Warm Up Exercises = Better Performance
Researchers have not only found that dynamic warm up exercises improve your overall performance, they have found that re-warming up after extended breaks can help keep that performance level high. That is why elite soccer players come out of the tunnel after half time and appear to do an abbreviated version of their pre-game warm up routine. If your workout is interrupted by life, be sure to revisit some of your warm up exercises before jumping in again.
Now you know you need a dynamic warm up routine that incorporates static stretching as well as dynamic warm up exercises. But what exactly does that mean? Truthfully, a personal trainer is the best person to guide you through a warm up routine that will help you get ready for the workout you have in store. Not only can they take into account your time, physical limitations and access to equipment, they can also give you the best warm up exercises for whatever they have in store for you that day. If you are just starting out or just looking for a way to ramp up your routine, be sure to start your journey in the capable hands of a personal trainer.
That being said, these five moves are some of the best ways to warm up your body and get ready for what’s coming up next. Do them alone or in a three-round circuit for a total body warm up.
1. Best Warm Up Exercises: The Good Morning
The Good Morning is a favorite of the Crossit crowd, as it is one of the best ways to stretch hamstrings and hip flexors with gentle, controlled movement. While many people will do Good Mornings with an empty weight bar, it can just as easily be performed unweighted with a broomstick.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, the bar high across your shoulders and your hands holding the bar in place just outside of your shoulders. Lean forward, pushing your hips back while maintaining the lumbar curve in your spine. Bend your knees slightly until your chest is parallel with the floor, taking care to keep your knees in line with your toes and your heels down. Then, slowly stand up until your back is straight. Repeat for 8 reps.
2. Best Warm Up Exercises: Walk-Outs
Walk-outs are the slower, gentler cousin to the burpee. (Don’t worry. As much as we love burpees and believe they are the perfect total body workout, they are nowhere to be found in this list of warm up exercises.) This movement is ideal for engaging your core, stretching the hamstrings and getting your arms and shoulders ready to work.
Standing with your feet hip width apart, bend forward until your hands are touching the ground, bending your knees slightly. Gradually walk your hands forward until you are in a plank position. Hold for three counts, then walk the hands back toward your feet and stand up. Repeat for 8 reps.
3. Best Warm Up Exercises: Lunge, With a Twist
As long as we’re talking about warming up your lower body, lunges are a perfect dynamic movement that activates all the major muscles in your lower body – including your lower abdominal muscles and lower back. Adding a twist gives you a little extra lower back stretch without taking it too far.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and step forward, taking care that your knee does not extend in front of your toes. Bring your back knee down to graze the floor to complete the lunge. With your arms parallel to the floor and your elbows bend in front of you, gently twist your upper body toward the forward knee. Push off with your forward foot and bring your feet back together as you stand up. Repeat with the other leg coming forward and twisting your body in the opposite direction. Do 10 total lunges – 5 with each leg.
4. Best Warm Up Exercises: Bear Crawl
Fitness trends may come and go but the Bear Crawl remains. This exercise targets your upper body and core while forcing you to think about your movement and zero in on your form.
Starting on your hands and knees, press your weight into the palms of your hands and your toes, bringing your knees off the ground. Keep your back straight and your eyes on the ground as you move your left arm and right leg forward simultaneously, touching your right knee to your right elbow. Next, bring your right arm and left leg forward, touching your left knee to your left elbow. Repeat across the ground until you have moved both arms and legs 5 times each.Then, reverse the movement so you are going backwards for 5 movements on each side.
5. Best Warm Up Exercises: Jump Rope
There is a reason why jump rope is in every training montage in every sports movie ever made. It is a fantastic way to build get your heart rate going, build endurance and coordinate movement throughout your entire body. One minute is all you need to activate nearly every muscle of your body and get ready for what comes next.
If you are on your third round and want a bit of a challenge or need a little extra boost, try double-unders – bringing the rope around twice before your feet touch the ground.
Still unsure which warm up exercises are right for you? A personal trainer can help. Even though we often associate personal trainers with the gym, personal training can happen anywhere, at any time. Imagine finding warm up exercises you can do at home. Or warm up exercises you can do in the park. Or even warm up exercises you can do in your hotel room while you travel.
Regardless of where, how or with what equipment you perform them, warm up exercises as a part of a solid warm up routine will help you achieve your physical peaks and reach your fitness goals.