It’s an age-old adage you’ve probably heard a thousand times: stretch before you work out.
Yet so many people at gyms and with personal trainers ignore this step completely. They hop right onto the treadmill or pick up weights before any of their muscles are primed to perform. Or, they’ll do the stereotypical arm-across-the-chest stretch, not to get loose but to trick themselves into thinking they’re ready to exercise.
The result? Injuries, discouragement, and a lack of weight loss.
So why are stretching and warming up the best things you can do for your body before exercise? It’s all because our muscles need to be eased into the exertion of exercise.
Whether it’s lifting a dumbbell, squatting, playing a sport, or running a marathon, working out requires blood flow and flexibility. A tight body with tight muscles that tries exercise is a recipe for disaster.
We thought warming up was so important that we decided to give it some shine in this week’s blog post. Here are a few of the many ways you can effectively prepare your body for a productive workout. Try these at the gym, on the field, at home, or wherever else you train!
Let’s go a little old school with this first warm-up. When you think of jumping jacks, you probably think of elementary PE class, where they are still a part of the norm.
Still, jumping jacks have their merit. They get you to break a sweat and stretch out your arms and legs at the same time.
Start by jumping. As you do, spread your legs out and bring your arms together at the highest point you can reach above you. Then, jump again, bringing your arms to your sides and your legs together.
If you want to add some extra “oomph” into your jumping jacks, make them super explosive (jump higher, stretch further, etc.).
Time to drop and squat! Squats will work out your legs and back, but that’s not all. They can also improve your posture!
Keep your legs shoulder-length apart. As you dip down, keep your weight on your heels and your back straight. Also, try to keep your arms straight ahead and your chest up.
If you really want to get your legs warmed up, hold out some weight in front of you or jump as you spring up out of squat position.
Need to get those legs churning? Try a few mountain climbers for a little cardio before your workout.
Start in push-up position, then drive your legs to your stomach and back, one leg at a time. Keep your core and arms stable as you do this.
If you want to adapt this into a full-scale workout, you can add a push-up after every two mountain climbers, or you can time yourself and see how many you can do in an allotted period of time. Try to break your personal record every week!
Time to work that core of yours! Inchworms will not only strengthen your core, but they will also improve your flexibility heading into a strenuous workout.
Start straight up, then slowly bend over and touch the ground with your fingers. Walk your fingers further and further out ahead of you, keeping your core and knees off the ground. After stretching far enough, walk yourself back to starting position. Each time you do this, try stretching out further than your previous rep.
Want to add a little extra kick to this warm-up? When you extend all the way out in front of you, keep your weight on the side of one foot. Slowly stack your other foot on top of the one you’re balancing on, then raise your opposite arm to the sky.
Arm circles may seem pointless, but they stretch the tendons in your arms, which allows your arms and shoulders to move more dynamically.
Start out with small arm circles, focusing on keeping your arms straight and pointed outwards. Continue broadening the circles until you feel a light burn in your shoulders. Reverse direction if needed. Do this until your arms feel loose enough to lift weights, do push-ups, support your own weight, etc.
Want to add something extra to this routine? Do your arm circles with dumbbells in each hand (don’t make these too heavy or you’ll risk pulling out your shoulder).
Some old-fashioned push-ups will do the trick for your biceps and triceps. Try these push-up variations before you lift heavy weights, such as a barbell.
Start out with a few normal push-ups, keeping your back straight and getting as close to the ground as possible without touching it. Progress to both narrow-handed and wide-handed pushups, keeping the same form as you do each push-up.
To add an extra challenge to this warm-up, add weight to your back as you do each push-up. This will make your push-ups tougher, but it should improve your form and balance.
Feel the burn (well, kind of). Bicycle crunches will get your abs warmed up for a great workout.
Lie on your back, but keep your legs straight out and off the ground. With your hands behind your head, perform a crunch by bringing your right elbow together with your opposite knee. For the next time rep, switch to your left elbow and right knee. Use your core to bring your elbow and knee together.
To add extra heat to this warm-up, try extending the length of the crunch by leaning your head back and keeping your legs further out in front of you.
One more awesome way to get your core warmed up is to do planks. This is a really simple, yet effective workout.
Lie down on your stomach with your legs together. Then, lift yourself off the ground using only your forearms and toes for support. Make sure to keep your back straight. Hold this position for a preset amount of time.
Try balancing weights on your back as you do this for more of a challenge.
Note: Nearly all of these warm-ups are commonly used in Fit Body workouts around the globe. Come stop by a location today to see what the buzz is all about!