Warming up before working out gets your body ready for the intensity of the exercises you will be performing. It reduces the strain on your body and your risk of sustaining an injury while working out.
Warm-ups are beneficial for any exercise, from strength training to cardio routines. You don’t have to spend much time warming up before exercising. A five to ten-minute warmup session is typically enough to loosen your muscles and get your blood pumping. Other benefits of warming up include:
- It improves your performance since warmed up muscles perform more effectively, allowing you to get more out of your workouts;
- It increases oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, giving them the nourishment they need to power through workouts and to repair damaged tissues after workouts;
- Warm-up exercises help to relax muscles before intense workouts, reducing the risk of injury;
- Warmed up muscles have a broader range of motion than “cold” muscles, allowing you to get more out of your workouts; and
- Warming up muscles before intense exercise leads to less stiffness and pain during recovery.
There are two main types of warm-up exercises you can choose to use: dynamic warmups or static stretching.
- Dynamic Warmups: These exercises are designed to be done at the start of your exercise routine. They prepare your body for more intense exercises to follow. It involves performing motions that mimic the motions performed during the main part of your workout. Examples of dynamic warmups include riding a bike for a few minutes, jogging, or movement-based stretches like lunges. Dynamic warmups help to ready your body for more challenging exercises, and they also help to improve your coordination, mobility, and strength.
- Static Stretching: Static stretching can be used as a form of warm-up, but research shows they are most effective for cooling down at the end of a workout. It involves holding positions that stretch your muscle and connective tissues, giving you a wider range of motion. This can help reduce the soreness that tends to follow after a workout. Examples of static stretches include hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and triceps stretches.
Five Excellent Warm-Up Exercises For Your Fitness Routine
Warm-up sessions should last anywhere between five to ten minutes. The more intense the workout you have planned, the more time you should spend warming up your muscles.
Your warm-up routine should be customized based on the makeup of your main workout. For example, athletes should focus on sport-specific warm-up exercises that mimic movements used in their craft. General warm-ups can be combined to give you a full-body warm-up.
Some simple warm-up exercises you can incorporate into your fitness routine include:
Squats are an excellent warm-up for your lower body as they engage most of the muscles there, like your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. You can start the exercise by going halfway down to warm your muscles and slowly transition into full squats. Here’s how you perform a squat:
- Keep your feet hip-width apart and your toes facing in front of you while standing. A wider stance forces your glutes to do most of the work, while a narrower stance engages more of your inner quads.
- Tighten your core, keep your back straight, and drop your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be directly over your toes.
- Return to the starting position while exhaling to complete a rep.
2) Side Lunges
Here’s another exercise that engages most of the muscles in your lower body. As with squats, you can ease yourself into the exercise by only going halfway down, then transitioning to full lunges. You can make the warm-up more challenging by adding dumbbells.
To perform the exercise:
- Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Press your left foot into the ground while you step forward to the right with your right foot.
- Lower your body while bending your right leg and keeping your left leg straight.
- Pause for a second when your right knee is directly over your toes. Lift yourself and return your right foot to the starting position. Perform a lunge on your left side to complete a rep.
Push-ups are arguably the most effective bodyweight exercise you can perform, and they can be used as a warm-up. It works most of the muscles in your upper body and also engages your glutes and core. You can make the exercise easier by starting from your knees if you find it too challenging at first.
Here’s how you perform a push-up:
- Get into a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor and your hands kept about shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be directly over your hands. Keep your feet together behind you, tighten your abs, and keep your back flat.
- Gradually lower yourself to the floor by bending at your elbows. Keep your back and torso tight as you lower yourself to the ground. It’s okay if your elbows flare out as you perform the exercise.
- Return to the starting position once your chest or chin almost touches the floor by straightening your arms. Keep your elbows slightly bent at the top to avoid hyperextending them.
Planks are an effective way to strengthen your back, and the exercise also serves as an excellent warm-up for your core. It also helps to improve your posture and balance. Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Start in the pushup position, keeping your toes and palms firmly planted on the floor.
- Tighten your core muscles and keep your back straight as you hold the position.
- Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds to complete a rep.
5) Jogging Leg Lifts
Here’s a way to get more out of your jogs when warming up. Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Start by jogging at a slow pace.
- Periodically lift your knees to your chest for about 30 seconds as you jog, then continue jogging normally.
- Rest for about a minute and repeat the high lifts.
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