Avoid injury and get ready for your workout with these warm-ups
A balanced warm-up routine can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your workout. Warming up helps prevent injury and gets your muscles ready to perform at their optimum, while raising your heart-rate helps boost your cardio effectiveness and weight-loss. A good warm-up should include a mix of mobility drills, pulse-raisers and flexibility.
This excerpt from LA Fitness takes us through some useful warm-ups to get any workout going.
Rotations and dynamic stretches prepare the joints for exercise. You’ll improve range of movement and reduce the risk of strain or injury.
Neck rolls – the first step to maintaining good posture throughout your workout. Slowly roll your neck clockwise for 30-60 seconds, then change direction. If you’re prone to stiffness, repeat this exercise regularly.
Leg swings – side-to-side and front-to-back – are the easiest way to prepare hip joints for exercise. Perform 10 in each direction, ensuring that the hip initiates movement.
Trunk twists – facing forward with feet hip-width apart, twist the upper body to one side. Keep your hands on your hips to ensure the pelvis remains stationary throughout 10 rotations per side.
Usually performed on a cardio machine, these exercises warm your muscles, protecting them from shock during the main workout. Improved circulation and oxygenation helps all of your muscles perform better – including your heart.
Jogging – jogging is an easy way to raise your heart rate without fatiguing.
Cycling – it takes a certain level of cycling endurance to warm up on an exercise bike – if you feel the burn in your legs before reaching your target heart rate, switch machines!
Swimming – begin with a slow front crawl to engage all the major muscle groups.
Rowing – this is one of the best pulse raisers to prepare for any kind of workout. The rower engages your full body, and it’s easy to gradually increase your speed throughout the warm up.
These exercises keep the muscles warm, preparing them for exercise by introducing movements that will be repeated throughout the main workout, reducing the risk of strain.
Squat stands – with hands raised above your head, squat until thighs are parallel to the ground before returning to full height.
Walking lunges – ideal for runners, these improve range of motion and blood flow to the legs.
Arm circles – simple but effective, small or large circles mobilise your shoulder joints and warm the surrounding muscles.
Bronwen Bartlett is a freelance writer, children’s book author, virtual agency director and performing bellydancer from South Africa. When she isn’t bent over a keyboard, frantically crafting articles and stories, or touting the benefits of moving away from traditional offices into virtual spaces, she can usually be found hiking a mountain with her partner and their dogs, or trying to master rib-cage isolation patterns. You can follow her personal blog or her company blog. Her first published children’s book, Callum and the Tiger, can be found on Amazon.