Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Warming up to workout is a requirement to stay healthy and perform at your best. An effective warmup prepares the body for the demands of training by raising body temperature, increasing blood flow to muscles, and activating the muscles which will be used in training. Warmups should take approximately 10-15 minutes and include stabilizing exercises, dynamic stretching, and exercises that target muscle groups which will be used within the workout. Power and/or agility exercises may also be appropriate for some populations. This article will explain the proper order of warmups and provide three examples of warmup routines.
General to Specific
A warmup should start out with a few minutes of low impact, casually paced aerobic activity such as rowing, biking, or incline walking. This activity begins to increase body temperature and blood flow. Next, choose a few stability exercises, particularly to increase trunk stability (core/hips). Follow with dynamic stretching exercises to allow the body to access its current mobility level during upcoming strength exercises. I prioritize full body movements that maximize primary movement patterns like squatting, hinging, pulling, pushing, twisting, crawling, etc. Some people may want to include power and agility warmups to prime motor pathways for speed/power exercises such as snatching or sprinting. Finally, the last and most specific warmup exercises should directly target the muscles groups to be used during the workout. For example, if the workout includes squatting first, the last couple warm up exercises would perhaps include good morning’s, rdl's, and squats with the bar.
Sample Warm Up Routines
Stationary bike two minutes, cat/cow x5 each, quadruped t-spine rotations x8 each
side, banded dead bugs x10 each leg, quadruped knee extension x10, spider lunge x5 each, inchworm with or without pushup x5, banded rows x10, bodyweight pause squats x10, banded face pulls x10, walking lunges x8 each leg
Upper Body Pull or Push
Row 500 meters, cat/cow x5 each, ½ kneeling t-spine rotation x5 each leg, down dog toe touch x5 each side, arm circles x5 each direction, banded rows x10, kettlebell halos x5 each direction, plank shoulder taps x10, banded face pulls x10, front/lateral/rear delt raises x10 each, 2 sets of 10 of either bench press with the bar bent-over rows with the bar (depending on if doing push/pull workout)
Incline walk two minutes (do not hold on), cat/cow x5 each, banded dead bugs x8
each leg, quadruped knee extension x8, bird dog x8 each side, spider lunge x5
each side, side plank x30 each, bear crawl x10 feet, bodyweight pause squats x10, box squats 2x3; with barbell—good morning’s x10, rdl’s x10, back squats x10 if squatting or deadlifts 2x5 if deadlifting
Some people might need to include more targeted activation work such as overhead
carries or glute bridge holds, if they have trouble stabilizing areas like the shoulders or hips. Generally, most people should avoid static stretching during warm-ups, which involves holding a stretch for an extended period. Static stretching and other exercises meant to improve mobility should be saved for the end of a workout or off days. Warmups should leave you feeling warm (duh!) and ready to tackle your workout. Perform your workout better today by trying out one of these warmups!
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