Did you realize you could make or break your entire workout routine for the day before even getting started? The way you warm up can decide the effectiveness and of results of your routine.
The most important functions of a warm-up are to increase neural activity, get the nerves kicking, increase body temperature and especially warm-up the joints. Plus, properly prepping your body can really cut the risk of unnecessary aches and injuries from training.
Like every other activity that is worth doing well, take time to do your warm-ups correctly. Some people are so enthusiastic about what they term "the real workout" they neglect a full warm-up, maybe doing a few half-hearted stretches and a couple jumping jacks before heading straight for the weight benches. That’s a recipe for failure and maybe even injury.
Here are a few dynamic warm-ups that will transform your workout and improve your results.
High kicks are great for loosening up the body for activities that require vigorous lower body movement. They warm up your hamstrings in particular and improve the range of motion in the abductor muscles, the pelvic area and hips. You can either do high kicks stationary or while walking.
Here’s how they’re done:
- Kick out your left leg keeping it as straight as possible particularly at the knee.
- The aim should be to touch the palm of your outstretched right hand.
- Alternate the leg and hand after each rep. Aim for two sets of 10 reps.
Hip Stretch with a Twist
If you spend most of the day sitting at a desk, the hip stretch with a twist is what you need. It will help stretch your core and relieve tension in the mid back, upper back area, hips and groin.
How to do it:
- Start on all fours and bring your right knee up to your right hand.
- Now take your left hand and twist to your left, stretching the fingers of your left hand toward the ceiling.
- Return to the starting position on all fours and repeat on the other side.
- Aim for two sets of 10 reps.
Knees to Chest
This warm-up simulates the peak of a running stride by bringing your knee toward your chest before returning your foot to the ground.
- Bring your knee up to your chest by hugging your shin while stepping on your toes with your opposite foot.
- Aim for two sets of 10 reps.
Lunges with Twists
This aptly-named dynamic warm-up exercise is just what its name describes: a lunge followed by a twist to activate and warm up both the upper and lower body areas. The forward lunge activates the pelvic muscles, hips and glutes while the twist loosens up the muscles and ligaments of the mid- and upper back and core. When doing a forward lunge, ensure your knees are in line with your toes to reduce the risk of injury.
T pushups are the perfect exercises for warming up the upper body, including the entire core, shoulders and pectoral area.
- Start in the classic pushup pose, and lower yourself just like in the classic pushup movement.
- As you push back up, stretch one arm toward the ceiling while balancing on the other arm and your feet.
- Remain in the position for about two seconds and bring your arm back down for one rep.
- Repeat the sequence with the other arm. Aim for two sets of 10 reps.