Warm-ups are an important part of any fitness regime.
The problem is, people just don’t do them enough. Sometimes, we’re so excited about setting off on our next workout session or run that we just race ahead without doing the appropriate warm-ups.
However, you should never ignore warm-ups. Not only can they help you prepare your body for any physical activity by increasing your blood flow, stretching your muscles and loosening your joints, but they can also prevent injury and boost your performance.
To get the most out of your fitness regime, you should always do a warm-up first. Below we’ve listed four different workout warm-ups to help you be the best you can be.
Why you should do dynamic warm-ups
Just doing some regular, static stretching is not going to get you anywhere. In fact, static stretching can actually overextend your muscles, hinder your performance rather than boost it, and even increase your risk of injury.
What you really want to get doing are dynamic warm-ups and stretches.
A dynamic warm-up means moving around and getting your muscles loose, active and ready to work out. Dynamic warm-ups also improve your blood circulation (which will boost your performance) and even “switches on” your central nervous system.
Dynamic warm-ups may make you sweat a little, but they won’t leave you feeling tired. It’s a simple change to your routine that will help you get the most out of your work out. You can also boost your performance by feeding your muscles the right food before and after your workout (check out this article on BeWellBuzz for some advice).
Here are some of the best dynamic warm-ups and stretches you can do before your workout.
Jumping jacks are the perfect dynamic warm-up to do before you workout to prevent injury and boost your performance. Jumping jacks have many benefits; they simultaneously work out lots of different muscles groups and get your limbs nice and loose, as well as increasing your heart rate and pumping oxygen-rich blood around your body.
If you’ve forgotten how to do jumping jacks since your days in school, here’s a quick reminder:
- Begin by standing straight with your feet at shoulder-width apart, turning slight out
- Jump up — spreading your feet past your hips and stretching your arms up into the air above your head (nearly touching)
- Jump back into the standing position you were in before, lowering your arms and bringing your feet back together
- Repeat (this is one rep)
Time: 1 minute
Muscles targeted: glutes, quads, shoulders, abdominal muscles, heart
Downward dog walk-out
The downward dog is a popular yoga position — and for good reason! It stretches the muscles all over your body, from your shoulders to your hamstrings, to your calves and your hands. It also strengthens your core and releases tension from your spine.
That’s why a more dynamic version of this yoga pose makes for a great workout warm-up.
The downward dog walk-out is a great, low-intensity warm-up and it’s very simple to do:
- Start in a high press-up/plank position with your abs engaged. Your shoulders should be over your wrists
- From here, walk your hands back towards your feet. Make sure your hips are pushed upwards and keep your legs as straight as possible (you should be able to feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calves)
- When your hands get to your feet, stand up
- Bend at the hips and reach your hands to the floor
- Walk your hands back down to the press-up position
- Repeat (this is one rep)
Time: 2 minutes
Muscles targeted: hamstrings, calves, core, heart
Jump rope is a really easy way to get your heart pumping and your body warmed up and ready for action!
You only really need a few minutes of using the jump rope at a moderate tempo to get your body limbered up for your workout.
In fact, if you’re really short on time then you can even use the jump rope as a substitute for your actual workout — it’s great for burning fat and strengthening your muscles. You just need to speed up to a brisk tempo and elongate your session to around 5 minutes.
Jump rope is simple:
- Hold the rope at hip level, keeping your feet close together and your knees slightly bent
- Rotate your wrists to swing the rope around in a wide arch
- As the rope swings towards your feet, jump over. This could be with both feet at the same time, on one foot, alternating feet — however you want!
Time: 2-5 minutes — whatever you can manage!
Muscles targeted: heart, legs, core, shoulders, arms
Squats are a strong warm-up to do before your workout — especially if you’re doing any kind of strength training. This is because they mimic the motions you’re going to do in your actual workout.
Regardless of the type of workout you’re doing, squats target and strengthen all sorts of muscles in your body — you’ll really be able to feel it in your hamstrings, quads, and glutes when you’re doing them!
Squats can be challenging but they’ll pay off:
- Stand straight with your feet at shoulder-width apart, turning slight out (you can choose what you want to do with your hands, whether it’s holding them to your chest, holding weights or simply down by your side)
- From standing, lower yourself down into a squat by bending your hips and knees, keeping your chest elevated and looking straight ahead
- Use your heels to push yourself back into a standing position
- Repeat (this is one rep)
You can also vary this warm-up by doing jumping squats, which are more challenging.
Instead of lowering down into a squat from standing, jump up into the air and then come back down into a squat position.
Time: 4 minutes
Muscles targeted: hamstrings, quads, glutes, lower back, core
These four different workout warm-ups will get your body loose and your heart rate up, preventing injury and boosting your performance.
Of course, there are many different warm-ups you can do, but if you’re not sure where to start, these are some strong basics to act as an overall warm-up. You may want to get more specific to your sport or activity with other warm-ups, by working through your workout exercises but at a lower intensity.
Just remember — don’t forget to cool down afterward too!