Warming up properly will not only help prevent injury, but will also maximize the effectiveness of your workouts.
Read on to discover the best warm up exercises, joint mobilization, dynamic stretches and even some static stretches that will give you a better workout and prevent aches and pains afterward.
Basic Warm Up Exercises
It is advisable to spend between 5 and 10 minutes warming up. If your workout is particularly intense, then you may wish to extend your warm up exercises, or even warm up between each exercise.
The best way to start your warm up routine is to undertake some gentle full-body cardio. The idea is to start moving your muscles and mobilizing your joints and allow them to perform better.
Gentle cardio will raise your heart rate, improving blood flow throughout your body. This will ensure your muscles get lots of blood and become easier to stretch. (Think of your muscles as taffy. If you stretch cold taffy, it snaps. If you stretch warm taffy, it stretches looooong.)
Here are some good warm up exercises to get you started:
- Jumping Rope
- Rowing machine
- Elliptical trainer or treadmill for walking or jogging; not running
- Mixing jumping jacks, high knees and heel flicks
Mobilizing Your Joints
When you have reached 50-60% of your max heart rate, the muscles should be good to go and it's time get your joints moving properly. This will help to avoid injury to your joints and tendons.
The fact is that you may spend most of your day sitting, hunched over, or holding your body in some contorted pose to enable you to complete the job in hand. This is likely to leave you with stiff shoulders, neck, and hips.
These parts of the body need to be mobilized to prepare them for your workout.
It’s generally best to start at your feet and work upwards:
Stand about 2 inches from the wall and bend your knee towards the wall. Keep your heel on the ground as you attempt to touch the wall with your knee.
If you can do this move back an inch and try again.
Another good exercise is to stand or sit, whichever is more comfortable. Lift one foot in the air and slowly rotate it in a clockwise direction 10 times. Then go anti-clockwise.
Repeat with the other ankle.
These are essential for almost every move you’ll make. Improving mobility and ensuring the hips are aligned correctly is essential.
Kneel down and push one foot out in front of you. Keep your back straight while rolling your hips. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
You can also lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips into the air and squeeze your glutes; hold for 10 seconds and repeat between 5 and 10 times.
Put your hands out in front of you with your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor (Basically an air squat). Repeat 10 times.
You can use the back of a chair or even the wall for support if you have difficulty.
Shoulder joints are vitally important for overall posture and strength.
Using a resistance band, one end in each hand, push your arms out in front of you. Then pull your arms apart as far as you can without bending them.
Ideally, you should hold them out for 2 seconds and then repeat 10 – 15 times.
You can also simply roll your shoulders slowly in a circle. This can be done while sitting or standing.
Once you’ve managed to warm your muscles up and mobilize your joints, you’ll be ready to finish your warm up exercises with some dynamic stretches.
The initial warm up exercise will have ensured the blood is pumping and your body is moving correctly. You’ll now need to stretch your muscles to ensure you can achieve peak performance while reducing the chance of injury.
The key is to move quickly through the warm up exercises, allowing your muscles to extend and contract.
The idea is to mimic the movements you're about to make in your workout, but without the load.
Here are a few dynamic stretches for you to try:
- Side Lunge
Stand straight and take a big step to the left. At the same time bend your left knee placing your weight on your left foot. Immediately return to the starting position and then repeat for 30 seconds before switching feet.
- High Kick
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then lift your right leg into the air in a kicking motion while keeping it straight.
At the same time, put your left arm out in front of you and attempt to reach your right toe.
Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
- T Push Up
Start with your toes on the floor and your hands, holding yourself in a plank position. Lower yourself down, as if doing a push-up.
Then propel yourself upwards; as you reach the original plank position, lift one arm straight into the air, creating a ‘T’ with your body.
Return to the push-up position and repeat with the other arm.
You should aim for between 5 – 10 reps for each arm.
Finishing With Static Stretches
We also recommend that you end all workouts with a static stretch.
Adopt a stretch position and hold it for at least 30 seconds to make sure the muscle fibers are smoothed and lactic acid is ejected from the area.
Warm up exercises are dynamic to prepare your muscles and reduce the likelihood of injury.
Warm Ups, Stretches, and Mobility Routine Playlist
Warm up exercises do more than just prepare your body for the workout routine. They allow you to perform better, improve results, and allow you to reap the positive effects of your workout.
Just remember, that you don’t need to struggle with this or any part of your workout routine. The Fit Father Project team are here to help you succeed.
If you don't have a structured workout just yet, check out our 24-minute workout and get started today!
Your new friend & health coach,
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on warm up exercises.