A proper warm-up is just as essential as the workout itself. According to Mayo Clinic, warming up before a workout can lead to less sore muscles and fewer injuries. You can read their summary here. To put together your own warm-up routine, check out the nine moves listed below.
Jumping jacks are a classic exercise move. They are a sure way to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.
Most people learn jumping jacks in elementary school, but for anyone who was sick that day, here is how they’re done. Starting from a standing position with hands at your side, jump about one foot off of the ground. While in the air, bring your arms up above your head, and your legs out to roughly twice hip-width apart. Jump again from that position and return to the simple standing position. Repeat for thirty seconds or longer.
This move is a dynamic stretch. It starts from a traditional lunge position with your arms raised straight above your head. Stay in that position. Reach straight down to the floor. Without moving your hands off the floor, straighten your bent leg. This will stretch your hamstrings. Only straighten as much as you feel comfortable with. Warm-ups are not the correct time to aggressively stretch or try to increase your range of motion. Return to the lunge and switch legs.
Side reaches help to gently stretch out the core muscles while elevating your heart rate. To do a side reach, place your feet wide. They should be double hip width but not uncomfortable. Turn your body to the left side, bending your left leg slightly. Simultaneously straighten the right leg and reach with the right hand up above your head. The goal is to create a diagonal line with the side of your body. Immediately repeat with the other side. Alternate sides for thirty seconds to a minute.
Any form of a lunge will work in a warm-up, but one of the best forms is a lateral lunge. There are many varieties of the lateral lunge. The basic lateral lunge starts with feet hip-width apart. Take a large step out to the side and shift your weight to that leg. Don’t allow your knee to go past your toes. Push out of that step and back into standing position. Repeat on the other side. Alternate sides for thirty seconds to a minute.
A few years ago, everyone was talking about the plank challenge. Now no one is talking about them. But just because they’re no longer in vogue, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing them. They are a powerful way to fire up the whole body. That’s what makes them such a great warm-up move.
There are a couple of different plank styles. The most common form involves simply taking the top form of a pushup and holding it. Occasionally, people move from their hands to their forearms as well. While warming-up, you might consider “walking” into your plank form. This involves placing your hands on the floor and walking with your hands, with both arms and legs straight, from a “V” shape to the plank form.
Knee lifts are a simple move to do but are great in a warm-up. Your feet should be placed slightly wider apart than shoulder width. Keep both hands resting gently on the back of your head. Alternating sides, lift one leg directly towards your armpit and back to your standing position. Keep in mind, that if you have trouble with your balance, you will want to be cautious performing this move. Keeping a wall or stable piece of furniture like a couch nearby can help mitigate the risks.
This move sounds more intimidating than it is. It is one of the best ways to stretch and activate the hip flexors. Like the previous move on this list, use caution if you have issues with balance. Start from a comfortable standing position. It should mimic the foot placement of the previous move on this list. Like before, place both hands gently on the back of your head. The goal is to keep them there. Start with whichever knee you prefer. Bend and lift the leg to make a circular motion by crossing the body, then arching up and around to the outside. End the movement by returning to your basic standing position. Repeat with the other leg. Switch legs repeatedly for one minute, or as long as you’d like.
Squats really fire up the leg and core muscles. If done correctly, they also increase the heart rate. There are many different types of squats you can do, and all of them are useful. For warm-ups, all you need is a basic squat.
To use squats as part of a warm-up, start with shallow squats. Without pausing, slowly increase the depth of the squats until you are at full depth. In addition, you can also at an arm raise to the end of your squats to work the arms. This will also further increase your heart rate.
A proper warm-up should do three main things. It should warm up the muscles and get the blood flowing, slightly elevate heart rate, and gently stretch the muscles. Have fun with it. Mix and match your moves. Just make sure you accomplish those three things in your warm-up and you’ll be ready to complete the best workout of your life.