Warming up properly before you exercise is one of the most imperative aspects of your workout. Whether you are new to working out and need some guidance, or a seasoned veteran looking to switch up their routine, we’ll explain the importance of warming up your muscles and outline the top ten exercises to help you along.
Why You Need to Warm Up
You need to warm up to loosen your muscles before a workout. If you start a workout cold, without warming up, you increase your chances of getting hurt. Warm up stretches prevent common injuries such as muscle strains, pulls, or even tears. Although many of these injuries are not severe, they are bad enough to hinder your movement ability, cause discomfort, and keep you out of the gym until you can heal.
Good warmup exercises will also enhance the performance of your workout that follows. You’ll be able to achieve a greater range of motion, which activates more muscles and helps you perform better.
Keys to a Great Warm Up
To have a great warm up you need to complete multiple warmup workouts. Adding a variety of stretches to your routine ensures that all the muscles in your body will get warm. For example, only stretching your shoulders and arms is not sufficient before a lower body workout.
Don’t rush through your warm up. Dedicate at least 20 minutes of your time to stretching and warming up before each workout. If it helps, just think of it as part of your workout, rather than a pre-workout routine.
The Best Warm Up Exercises
There are hundreds of warmup exercises you can do, but we’ll cover the top ten best stretches before workout. These are great for people of all skill levels and can be done nearly anywhere with little to no equipment required.
Arm circles are a great way to warm up your shoulders. They should be incorporated into all of your warmup routines. Stand up straight and lift both arms up from your sides, forming a “T” shape with your body. Your arms should be parallel and perpendicular to the floor while creating a 90-degree angle with your torso.
Slowly make small circular motions with your arms. Breathe normally throughout the motion and continue the exercise for roughly 10 to 15 seconds. Pause and go back to the starting position. Next, make circular arm motions in the opposite direction for another 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the repetitions two additional times for a total of three sets.
Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and palms below your shoulders. Extend your right arm forward while extending your left leg back at the same time. Hold the pose for a second or two before returning to the starting position.
Repeat the same motion with your opposite leg and arm. Do this ten times on each side to complete one set. You can do two or three sets before moving to the next stretch.
To performing a standing chest expansion, stand with your feet hip-width apart and interlock your fingers behind your lower back. If you can’t reach, use a t-shirt or towel to make up the distance. Pull your hands away from your tailbone and open our chest up and out.
The intensity increases the more you can draw your hands away from your body. Hold this position for ten seconds and repeat it up to three times.
The camel drill is also known as the cat-camel. It’s one of the most popular pre workout stretches and warmup exercises in yoga classes. Performing a camel drill helps mobilize your spine and stretch the muscles in your back, which releases tension in your body. Start on your hands and knees on the ground with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips.
Slowly round your back in an upward while raising your head towards the ceiling and push your hips back, driving your stomach towards the ground. Pause briefly, then exhale and begin to arch your back in the opposite direction and let your head and chin bow towards your chest. Repeat the motion ten times before moving on to another exercise.
If you are looking for good warm up exercises for your hips and glutes, the glute bridge is one of your best options. Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your feet in a position where you can just barely touch your heels with your fingertips while laying on your back.
Lift your glutes off the ground by driving up with your heels and upper back. Push your hips towards the ceiling as high as you can while squeezing your glute muscles. Keep your stomach tight to avoid hyper-extending your back. Hold the position at the top for a couple of seconds and the return to the starting position. Repeat the repetition ten times for two or three sets.
Lay on your right side on the floor. Bring your knees up to form a 90-degree angle with your torso. Put both arms straight in front of you with your palms together at shoulder height. With your right arm remaining on the floor, rotate your left arm away to the opposite side of your body, so your left shoulder blade and arm touch the floor.
Repeat five times on your right side before switching to your left. Side-lying rotations loosen the muscles in your middle and upper back.
Half-Kneeling Groin Mobilization
Start on one knee with one leg up forming a 90-degree angle off to your side. Slowly sink your hips towards the up leg so that you feel a stretch in your groin. Repeat the motion for about 10 to 15 seconds before switching legs.
Another variation of this stretch involves keeping one leg fully extended off to your side, rather than bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your hands on the ground in front of you to remain balanced while you shift your weight and stretch your groin.
Start in a pushup position and lift your hips and raise your rear end towards the ceiling into the downward dog yoga position. Step your right leg forward next to your right hand. Keep your chest up, head down, and bring your left knee towards the floor. Next, raise your right hand and make a small arm circle with your hand towards the ceiling.
Return to the downward dog position and repeat the motions with your left leg and left arm.
Jump rope is one of our favorite warmup exercises to get your heart rate up and blood flowing. There are multiple variations to a jump rope routine depending on your coordination and ability level. For beginners, try basic jump rope motions. Start with your hands by your hips with the rope behind your heels.
Swing the rope forward over your head and jump as the rope comes towards your feet. Start slow and pick up the pace as you become more comfortable. Use your wrists the swing the rope instead of your arms. Keep your chest lifted and don’t forcefully drive your feet into the ground to avoid injury. You can jump rope for two to five minutes as a warm up.
Walking Spiderman with Reach and Hip Lift
The walking Spiderman with reach and hip lift is a workout warm up for your groin, hip flexors, glutes, lower back, and hamstrings. Lunge one leg forward and bring your opposite knee towards the ground. Place both hands on the ground next to your forward foot for additional support to get a full range of motion from your lunge.
Rotate your torso and bring your outside hand towards the ceiling while keeping the other hand on the ground next to your forward foot. Allow your head to look up, so your raised arm becomes perpendicular to the floor. Bring your hand back down and step forward with your other foot, repeating the motion on your opposite side. Do this for three sets of five repetitions.
While warming up is something you do before a workout, the cooling down process takes place at the end of your exercise routine. It helps your body gradually transition back towards a state of rest. During high-intensity training, it’s common for people to get dizzy as they recover from a strenuous workout.
Spend three to seven minutes after your workout to walk, jog, or stretch while your heart rate returns to a normal resting rate. Cooling down helps prevent injuries and reduces muscle soreness.
Common Warm Up Mistakes
Rushing is the biggest mistake people make during their warm up routine. They get so focused on getting towards their actual workout that they cut corners hurry through their stretches. If you rush through your warm-up, it defeats the entire purpose. You won’t get an adequate stretch, and you are susceptible to injury during your workout.
Another major fault is improper form. Make sure you know how to properly perform each movement or you put yourself at risk to get hurt. If you don’t know how to do something, avoid it until you get proper instructions on the form.