It can be tempting to dive right into the bulk of your workout, especially if you’re short on time or feeling energized from a pre-workout supplement. Many experts warn working cold muscles decreases your performance and increases the chances of hurting yourself.
No matter what your preferred form of exercise is or whether you’re working out in a gym, at home, or in the great outdoors, warming up should be the first thing you do.
A warm-up routine helps get your blood pumping to muscles, loosens joints, and primes your body so it’s ready for the work you’re about to do.
The best warm-up exercises mimic the movements and work you’ll be doing in your workout. For example, if you’re a runner, progressing from a fast walk to a slow jog can help warm your body up before breaking into a full-speed run.
Most types of exercise can benefit from low-intensity dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches include a full range of movement and prepare both your muscle and joints to move. Static stretches are the kind you reach and hold. Static stretches should be saved for cooling down and relieving muscle tension at the end of your workout.
Here are 5 simple and effective warm-up exercises to get you ready to sweat.
Arm Circles - Simple arm circles loosen shoulders and prepare the biceps and triceps.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and raise arms so they’re parallel with the ground. Circle your arms forward for 10-count, starting with small circles and making them progressively bigger. Then repeat circling backward.
Squats - Squats get the lower body ready for exercise and help loosen hips, knees, and ankles.
Stand with feet just wider than hip-width apart. Hold your hands out in front of you or place them on your hips. Engage your abs, bend at the knees, and push your buttocks behind you, as if you were sitting down. Lower as far as comfortable for your range of motion and pause. Return to standing and repeat.
Lunges - Lunges prepare the lower body and glutes and increase the range of motion in the hips.
From a standing position, step one foot forward until you’re in a split stance. One leg should be in front of you and the other should be behind you. Bend your knees and lower as far as your range of motion allows and pause. Push off the front leg to return to standing. Switch legs and repeat.
Jumping Jacks - These work your entire body and get your blood pumping.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides. Keep a small bend in your knees and jump, spreading your legs and raising your arms overhead. Return to starting position and repeat. You can increase the pace for more of a challenge.
Walk Outs - Also called inchworms, this move gets all major muscle groups firing and engages your core.
From a standing position, bend at the hips until hands reach the floor. Walk your hands forward and keep your legs straight until you’re in a high plank position. Pause in plank, then reverse and walk your hands back to your feet and return upright. Repeat.
Perform each of the warm-up movements for 30 seconds, with the option to repeat the circuit, and you have yourself a solid warm-up routine that can be done in just a few minutes.
This warm-up is equipment-free and can be done anywhere to warm up your muscles, reduce stiffness, and increase your range of motion. When your body is properly warmed up, you’ll benefit from enhanced performance and endurance that can take your workout to the next level.