Your warm-up is almost as important as your cool down. With the proper exercises, it can prevent injuries, improve your endurance and ensure your body can make the most of your workout. But, what makes a great warm-up isn’t what you learned in gym class in grade school. Update your pre-workout routine with these quick tips.
Get Moving Right Away
Health professionals recommend avoiding static moves, where you hold a stretch, to active, or dynamic, exercises which involve movement. According to Greatist.com, the switch to dynamic warm-ups was made about 10 years ago, and professional athletes have been relying on this technique ever since. Why? This form of stretching, or warming up, activates your muscles, improves your range of motion and increases body awareness.
Incorporate these exercises into your next warm-up session:
- Jump rope
- “Skiing” in place
- Jumping jacks
- Hip figure eights
- Light lunges
Get the Timing Right
Not only should your warm-up be done immediately before your workout-so your body doesn’t go into cool-down mode, but the time you take to do the exercises is key to reaping to the benefits. Remember:
A warm-up should be short and sweet, but not too short. Aim for 5 to 10 minutes, no longer than that. If exercising in winter weather, aim for 10 minutes to prepare your body for the cold temperatures.
- Each exercise should last 30 to 45 seconds.
- Stay even; if you stretch one leg, don’t forget to stretch the other.
- Start with low intensity exercises like hip figure eights and move to higher intensity ones like skiing in place or jumping jacks.
Cue the Tunes
Warming-up doesn’t just prep your body for a workout, but should get your mind ready, as well. To get in the zone, turn on your favorite workout playlist and jump right in. Set it up so the slow, but steady songs play during your warm-up and the higher intensity ones will shuffle during the actual workout.
A Few Quick Tips
- Stay moving from one move to the next. If you stop, do so for less than 10 seconds. It’s important to keep your body active.
- Hydration is key to your warm-up. Take little sips, often, to ensure your body is hydrated for the intense part of your session.
- When you move into the actual workout, still start slow. Your muscles will not be fully warmed up for the first 20 to 30 minutes of activity, so it’s important to work up to the full movements.