A warm body is a flexible body. So, before you embark on your workout, it’s vital you perform a set of dynamic moves to raise your body temperature and prepare your muscles for exercise. Learn how to properly warm up your body for exercise with our top tips and pre-workout warm up routine…
Whether you run, ride or hit the gym, warming up is an essential component of your workout. And yet, prepping the body to exercise is often overlooked and seen as a less important or time-consuming stage of a workout. If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to get your priorities in order because skipping the warm-up could be hindering your performance and holding you back from your next PB!
Benefits of warming up before exercise
A thorough warm-up before exercising gets your cardiovascular system firing on all cylinders by increasing your pulse rate and core temperature so more oxygen can be pumped to the muscles to make them work more effectively. It also prepares your muscles and joints for the physical exertion that’s to come.
Furthermore, warming up will help you to avoid injury when exercising and work within your full range of motion for every single exercise. Plus, it gets your mind focused and motivated for the workout ahead so you can be quicker, stronger and more alert in both body and brain during the main event to maximise your overall training results.
So, now we all know the benefits of warming up our bodies before a workout – but do you know how to warm up properly for exercise? Let’s take a closer look…
How to warm up for exercise
Maybe you do warm up before every sweat session, but are you doing it the right way? During cold weather especially, muscle and connective tissue is less pliable, meaning it’s crucial to ensure your body is prepared for physical activity. Read on to learn how to warm up for exercise safely and effectively.
What should a warm up consist of?
Every warm-up you do should consist of two components: a ‘pulse raiser’ to increase your heart rate gradually, and ‘dynamic stretching’ to enhance your flexibility and range of movement. Whatever your fitness level, your warm-up should last between eight to 10 minutes – sometimes longer if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day or the weather is colder.
Start by raising your pulse for five minutes – you could do a brisk walk or jog, or use cardio equipment like exercise bikes or rowing machines if you’re at the gym. Whatever you choose, the key is to start out slowly, and steadily build your speed and effort over time until you feel warmer, a bit out of breath, and ready to progress into your workout.
After your pulse raiser, you should perform some dynamic stretches to prepare your body for the movements you’ll be doing in the workouts, again starting off with smaller movements and making them bigger as you work through the reps.
Dynamic or static stretching for a warm up?
The key thing to bear in mind is that you must focus on dynamic movements rather than static stretches during a warm up. Dynamic moves will raise your core body temperature while also taking your body through movement patterns that will prepare your joints, tendons and muscles for exercise.
A good dynamic routine will really improve your performance if you do it correctly. On the other hand, as static stretches are stationary, they will not prepare your body for movement before a work out.
How long should a warm up last?
Devote around 10 minutes to warming up before starting your workout, including a 5 minute pulse raiser followed by 5 minutes of dynamic stretching.
10-minute warm-up routine
First, to get your heart and lungs mobilised, spend five minutes doing a brisk walk or using a cardio machine at the gym, followed by some jumping jacks. Then, move into our comprehensive whole-body warm-up routine. Start off gently and increase intensity as you build the reps. Keep going for around 10 minutes in total, or until you feel sufficiently warmed up.
PULSE RAISER (5 minutes)
Spend 5 minutes doing a brisk walk, jogging up and down the stairs, or using a cardio machine at the gym (such as the rower or exercise bike). Then, move onto the jumping jacks to warm your body up and raise your pulse even further.
Jumping jacks x10
Stand with your feet together, hands by your sides and knees slightly bent. Engage your abdominals and keep your eyes looking forwards. Simultaneously jump and separate your legs, swinging your arms upward and touching them overhead.
Lunge to flye x10 (each side)
Stand with your arms down in front of your body, palms in. Step forward with your left leg, bend both knees and perform a lunge, spreading your arms wide, palms forwards. Keep your eyes front and back straight throughout. Step back into a standing position and repeat on the right. Do 20 reps, 10 reps on each side.
Side lunge with twist x10
Stand with arms extended at shoulder height and hands clasped. Step into aside lunge with your left leg, and rotate your torso and arms in the same direction. Keep your eyes on your hands. Return to the start and repeat on the other side. Do 10 reps on each side.
Alternating split deadlift x10 (each side)
Stand with your arms by your sides, then step forward with your left leg. Keeping a slight bend in both knees, lean over your leading leg and extend your arms down making sure to lean from your hips and keep your spine straight. Return to the start and repeat on the right side. Do 20 reps, 10 on each side.
Squat to reach x10
With your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, arms down by your sides and back straight, perform a simple squat. Hold, then power up through your feet, straighten your legs and raise your arms above your head, keeping your eyes forward. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times.
Crossover touch and reach x10 (each side)
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width, hands by your sides. Bend forward from the hips and twist your torso while reaching for your right foot with your left hand. Meanwhile, extend your right arm up and look at your hand. Return to the centre and repeat on the other side. Do 10 reps on each side.
Repeat the circuit until you feel sufficiently warmed up (aim for around 10 minutes in total).
How to motivate yourself to warm up for exercise
If the idea of completing a full warm up before your workout makes you groan, try these motivational tips…
- Listening to music that triggers positive vibes can really help get you in the training zone. Start each session with your ‘power song’ (a favourite tune that always lifts your mood) to help you leave your worries behind you and get you buzzing with energy.
- Wear layers during your warm-up to help retain the body heat you create through movement. As you get hotter, take the layers off slowly to avoid a big drop in body temperature.
- Repeat your own personal mantras to yourself such as ‘I am strong and fit’ or ‘I will complete every rep today’ to focus your mind on what you want to achieve in the workout ahead.