Working out is great for both the mind and the body, especially if done regularly. Aside from the usual weight loss and strength conditioning, it brings to the body, regular exercise can also make you feel happier and more relaxed, as the brain produces several happy hormones when your body enters physical activity. It can also help improve your brain’s health, memory, and even your skin.
As advantageous as working out is, there is one facet of it that often lacks attention – warming up. A lot of people tend to ignore warm-ups because they do not understand what it is for, and therefore think it’s just a waste of time that could be used working out instead. However, warming-up is equally as important as the rest of the work-out session, and skipping it will not only lead to a less than stellar workout performance, it can also lead to injuries.
To make sure that your muscles are ready for action, never forget to warm up before doing physical exercises. In this article, Matt, a local personal fitness trainer at Rec Xpress Clayton shared a few warm-up stretches that you can try before starting your gym workout:
Leg Cradle to Side Lunge
Start off by lifting your right leg so that all of your weight lies on your left leg as you keep standing up. Grab your right knee with your right hand in an embracing motion, and at the same time hold your right ankle with your left hand, just above the shoe line. Slowly cradle your right leg towards your chest, and your resulting figure should resemble the number four. Stay in this position for eight counts, and then do the same thing for your other side, replacing your right with your left leg.
This stretching exercise improves the flexibility of your hip and thigh muscles while helping your knees and ankles gain enhanced mobility through better blood flow. Use this warm-up exercise for workouts involving your lower body parts, like doing squats or powerlifting.
Back Lunge to Groin
From a standing position, take a step backward with your right foot and point your foot towards the ground, mimicking a reverse lunge. Then, bend your knees until your butt is lowered to the ground, keeping your back straight the entire time. Next, put both of your hands on the ground next to your left foot, inside the space it occupies, and straighten your right leg out. Use your left elbow to gently touch the instep of your left leg. Hold this position for five seconds, and then slowly stand back up. Practice this with at least three repetitions on each side.
Back lunges help prepare the lower back muscles for increased pressure, and the knees, ankles, and hips are also warmed-up for improved movement. This is ideal if your work-out session will cover lunges or weights that will pull on your back.
Quad Pull With Tilt
This is a little similar to the leg cradle stretch earlier. Start in a standing position, then use your right hand to take your right foot behind you by holding it just above the shoe. While still holding your foot, slowly lean forward and try to pull your right knee higher in the air as you do, and make sure you do not lose balance. Stay in this position for five seconds, then release your right foot and go back to your original standing position. Repeat this for five sets, and then change into your left foot with your left hand. You can also try alternating between your feet if you want to change things up a little.
Quad pulls are good for exercises that strain the quads and hamstrings, building enough resistance to get the muscles ready for activity. The tilting action helps your body gain a sense of balance which is also important in activities that require you to lift heavy objects.
Hip Bridge with Reach
This time, you will need to lie flat on your back on a smooth surface. While lying, bend your legs but keep your feet flat on the surface. Lift your hips up by pushing through your heels, building yourself a hip bridge. Lift as high as you can and once you are at the top of your bridge, use your right hand to try and reach the ground next to your left shoulder without falling down. Return to the lying position with your hips lowered to the ground after taking attempts. Do this for a maximum of five repetitions, alternating sides for each try.
The stretching exercise gets the blood flowing through your upper back, warming up the muscles for more action. Your lats, oblique muscles and hip flexors should be well-awakened after a few attempts, allowing better flexibility in the ensuing workout. Doing the bridge also helps prepare your glutes for lower body activities, while reaching in this position will improve shoulder strength and movement for upper body activities.
Warm-ups are important, but they are only done to prepare your body for the next activities in your workout program. Make sure you do not overexert yourself as you warm-up and pace your energy levels accordingly.