There is not an exercise plan out there that doesn’t require warming up for at least 5 minutes before starting the exercise regimen. Properly warming up not only gets the blood flowing to your muscles, but gets you mentally ready to exercise, and reduces the risk of injury to your muscles, joints, other soft tissue, or your heart.
Why Warm Up?
A warm-up is crucial because it:
- Increases blood to your muscles
- Gets your heart ready for increased physical activity
- Increases oxygen moving through the bloodstream
- Gradually raises your body temperature closer to that of your actual exercise
Complete at least 5 minutes of light exercise, or up to 10 minutes, especially in cold weather.
1. Cardio Warm Up
Walk, jog, or get on one of your favorite cardio machines for 5 minutes. Choosing a machine that works your whole body, like the elliptical or the rowing machine, will provide you with a good warm-up.
2. Bodyweight before Weight
If your workout entails lots of weight lifting, get your muscles ready by doing movements that mimic the movements that you’ll make during your lifting session. Some quick, half range (only lower body half of the way down) push ups, followed by squats, then jumping jacks may help to mimic the movements that you’ll be doing during your workout. This has the benefit of opening joint movement for the work ahead.
3. Track and Field Style
You’ve probably seen the local high school track team limbering up for a two hour practice. This warm up takes a hint from them to get your body’s muscles ready. Perform each exercise for about 30 yards or so.
Walking Lunges: Lunge forward and push up with your front heel. Switch legs for second lunge, then alternate.
Skips: Bring out your inner 4th grader and skip across your distance. Make the skips slow, bounding upward, bringing your knee to hip height.
Calf Walk: Walk slowly and lift up to your toes, warming through your calves and Achilles tendon.
Twisted Lunge: As you lunge forward with your right leg, twist at the waist, bringing your left elbow in front of your right shin. Stand up slowly and switch legs and elbow.
Grapevines: Stand sideways and cross feet right over left, then right behind left. On the way back to the starting line, reverse feet, left over right, then left behind right.
4. Stretch and Roll
A foam roller benefits your muscles and soft tissue the way deep sports massage does, and is the perfect first step before stretching. Picture stretching out pizza dough, that is what a foam roller does to your muscles, lengthening and stretching them, and working out knots. Start by laying on the foam roller, and roll back and forth over one body part at a time. Start with your lower legs, then hamstrings and quadriceps. Move to your glutes, then to your back. Maintain pressure on areas where you feel pain in the form of knots, or where your muscles are sore. If you don’t have a foam roller, some quick stretches can also get the job done.