By Brandy Dishaw
List of the Best Warm-Up Exercises
Forget toe touches and side bends. Get loose and limber for your workout with a dynamic warm-up. The ultimate warm-up routine will help activate your muscles from head-to-toe, and prepare your body for the demands of a challenging workout.
Take a close look at how you warm-up, because there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong. Static stretches are traditional warm-up exercises, but these movements are faulty. During static movement, a position that targets a joint or muscle is held for 30 to 60 seconds in attempt to increase flexibility. According to Peak Fitness, this type of stretching can actually damage your muscles and tendons.
Don’t stretch to warm up. The ultimate warm-up routine will activate your muscles from head to toe.
Dynamic stretches force the body to maintain constant movement through a series of challenging and repetitive motions. Before a workout, a brief dynamic warm-up can help increase your core temperature, improve your range of motion, and prep the body for the intensity of your upcoming workout. A dynamic warm-up is mentally efficient too, helping to get your mind into powerful and invigorating movement by stimulating your circulation quickly and elevating the blood flow to your brain.
Whether you’re warming up for an intensive bodybuilding routine, or for a Zumba class, a good warm up will protect you from injury.
We like these fun warm-ups from Bodybuilding.com:
1 KEEP IT DYNAMIC
Start with dynamic movements.
After that, move right into 3 sets of 15-yard linear skips. Follow that up with 3 sets of 15-yard Carioca to finish it off. Your body is now primed for workout performance!
2 JUMP AROUND
Fitness author and expert Jennifer Nicole Lee says:
5 consecutive minutes of jumping rope at a mild to brisk tempo is all you need.
When you long for a good workout but are short on time, a little jump rope session will get your heart rate and body temperature up, putting you smack-dab in the fat-burning zone.
If you can’t do the full 5 minutes at first, start with what you can do, and then build from there.
3 ALICIA MARIE’S FUNCTIONAL BALANCE CHALLENGE
Try doing one warm-up set of a balance exercise that mimics the actual training exercises you’ll be doing.
Always try a warm-up set that uses the muscles you plan to work in a stabilizing way!
4 BACK TO THE JACKS—an Oldie But Goodie
George Mitropetros, trainer of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena star Nick Tarabay, has got a fun throwback warm-up that works the whole body – jumping jacks! Wait, those things we used to do as kids? You got it.
They work your legs, core, and heart at the same time. Depending on your access to equipment and goals, do a 5-to-10 minute warm-up followed by light stretching of the body parts on that day’s training log. Consider foam-rolling the specific areas to maximize their performance potential.
Remember, warm-ups are not intended to be part of the workout.
Break a brief sweat but don’t work so hard that you build up lactic acid; save your energy for the actual workout. Your tempo should be quick and to the point.
This promotes blood flow and readies your heart for more work. Imagine your body as a hot rod ready to do a quarter-mile drag at full power, but in order to fulfill that potential, you need to warm up those slicks and make them nice and sticky!
6 SWING INTO ACTION
Using swinging movements is a great way to loosen up your muscles and joints so they are primed for handling heavy resistance.
Your muscles and joints are like rubber bands – they’ll snap when cold, but if warmed up, they’ll be resilient, responsive and flexible.
So for all you would-be “swingers,” check out these exercises to prepare for a great workout.
- Arm Circles: 1 set of 10 reps, forwards, 1 set of 10 reps, backwards
- Front to Back Leg Swings: 1 set of 10 reps, each leg
- Cross-Body Leg Swings: 1 set of 10 reps, each leg)
- Arm Swings: 1 set of 10 reps
- Standing Gate-Openers While Walking: 2 sets of 15 yards
- Straight Leg March: 2 sets of 15 yards
What’s important when it comes to warm ups is to get the heart rate elevated so the body and muscles warm up before you place demands on muscles, tendons and ligaments. Failure to warm-up before exercise, lifting, sprinting and even stretching, can lead to injuries.
Want More Great Warm-Up Exercises?
For more, check out the rest of this super article from Bodybuilding.com. They have the world’s best library of exercise images and videos! for even more warm-up exercises designed to get your blood flowing and your muscles ready to work.
Tempted to skip your warm-up? Don’t. The pre-workout warm-up is an essential element in any good exercise routine. Not only can these stretches prepare your body for an intense run, game, or cardio session, they can also reduce your risk of injury. Also, don’t forget a cool down after your workout, it’s just as important.
Now that’s when you stretch. When your workout is done, the stretching begins.
Brandy Dishaw is a freelance writer, editor, wife, and mother, with an interest in health and fitness. While writing is her main passion, she also dabbles in photography. She enjoys staying up-to-date on the latest exercise and fitness trends, and frequents the local gym to stay in tip-top shape.