5 Warmup Exercises to Help Boost Your Workout
Warm-ups are a necessary tool to reduce the risk of injury. They can help prepare the body on the way to achieving a winning performance. It doesn’t have to take forever to get a warm-up done, you can have an effective warm-up in as little as five minutes.
Let’s dive into some of the reasons why you should consider doing a warm-up, and run through a warm-up routine that you can add to your workouts.
Benefits to warming up before working out:
● Raises the temperature of the body. This allows for more oxygen to be carried around the body and improves the performance of the cardiovascular system, while also making the musculoskeletal system more efficient at the task.
● Increases blood flow to the target muscles. Increasing the blood flow to the target muscles allows us to perform exercises at an optimal level. (1, 3, 6)
● Lowers muscle stiffness, which leads to less chance of injury and allows muscles to relax. (5)
● Decreases the risk of injury during our workout. (7)
● Increases in flexibility in the joints and helps to build up more elasticity within the muscle. (2, 4)
● Allows for a better range of motion through the movement of an exercise. This is done by stimulating synovial fluid within the joints.
● Allows you to mentally prepare for the exercise. Before performing any exercise it is important to be fully focused on the exercise at hand. This will allow you to perform better and reduce the risk of something going wrong.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is the action of holding a stretch for a period of time. This is done to loosen and lengthen the muscle that has been worked throughout a workout.
Static training is best saved for the end of the workout.
What is a Dynamic Warm-up?
Over recent years, dynamic warm-ups have taken the place of static warm-ups as the gold standard approach to preparing for an activity. Not only does a dynamic warm-up raise your heart rate to better set up your body for the workout, but it also allows you to test your movements at a lower intensity to the activity itself, building a more appropriate progression toward the physical activity or session.
There are many different options available when it comes to dynamic warm-ups. You can use a more sport-specific warm-up, or you might have a routine that you took from your coach or peers. It really depends on what you are preparing yourself for. The types of exercises will prime you for further efforts throughout your workout. Build your confidence in routinely doing the easiest warm-ups first before trying to challenge yourself further.
Leg swings are a great way to prime your lower body and to increase the range of mobility of the hips. There are many benefits to increasing the range of mobility within the hips, such as improving performance, and allowing for better control throughout a movement such as a squat or deadlift.
How to perform a leg swing:
● Stand on one foot or grab an object (wall, pole, stick) to maintain balance.
● Allow space for the leg to swing forward and back.
● Keep back upright and core engaged.
● Start slowly swinging your leg backwards and forwards, as you warm up, increase range of motion and speed.
● Swap to the other leg.
Hip Stretch with Twist
This is an exercise that brings many benefits, it is not only a full-body stretch, but it will also help get the blood pumping and raise your heart rate. The hip stretch will allow for a better range of motion at the hip, but will also stretch the trunk, abs, quads, hamstrings and glutes via the twist.
How to perform a hip stretch with a twist:
● Begin in a press-up position.
● Allow one leg to step forward, into a lunge.
● Keep back straight and core engaged.
● Start slowly raising the arm of the same side into the air, allowing a twisting movement to occur.
● Swap to the other side.
Knee To Chest
This exercise is perfect to release any unwanted tightness or stress at the lower back muscles. It also allows for a better range of motion at the hips, and targets the distal end of the quadriceps for a stretch toward the knee joint.
How to perform a knee to chest stretch:
● Lay on the floor with a slight bend at the knee (feet must be flat).
● Gently bring one knee up to your chest, once close enough interlace fingers behind the knee.
● Once fingers are interlocked, slowly pull the bent knee towards your chest.
● Try to relax the legs, core, lower-back and pelvis muscles as much as possible (this is to allow for a better stretch).
● Hold for a few seconds.
● Return leg to starting position and swap to the other side.
The inchworm is a fantastic total body exercise which will get the heart pumping and allow an increase in body temperature. This exercise is often used as part of HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) circuits. This exercise is not only great as a total-body warm-up, but it is also great for more advanced core strengthening exercises.
How to perform an Inchworm:
● Stand tall, with feet about shoulder-width apart.
● When ready, bend to reach for your toes, allowing a band in your back. Slightly bending at the knees until hands reach the floor.
● When hands are placed on the floor, start to slowly walk your hands forwards and allow both heels to rise off the floor.
● Keep walking the hands forward until in a plank position, while keeping the legs straight, slowly walk the feet forwards (if too difficult, allow for a slight bend at the knee).
● Once your feet have reached your hands, slowly straighten back into a standing position. Repeat for time or as many repetitions as desired.
This is an exercise that brings both flexibility and warmth to the body between the use of two different poses.
How to perform a Cat-Cow:
● Start on your hands and knees with your hands placed under your shoulders and hips over your knees.
● Begin by moving into a cow position: Inhaling into the stomach and creating an arch by bringing your belly to the floor. While inhaling, bring your head up and chin to the ceiling.
● Next, move into a Cat Pose: As you exhale, start to round the back and bring the belly towards the ceiling. The pose should resemble that of a cat stretching.
● While exhaling, bring the top of your head towards the floor, but not forcing this action.
● Repeat this movement for 5-20 repetitions.
How long should you spend warming up?
The time you spend warming up will be dependent on the specifics of the sport. It is recommended to warm up for a minimum of 5 minutes. The more intense of a workout, the more time is recommended to be spent performing a warm-up. Focus mainly on the muscles that will be targeted throughout the workout. Such as, Leg swing and Inchworm before performing squats or deadlifts.
A warm-up routine can sometimes seem tedious, but it is incredibly important, especially as we get older. As mentioned above, there are a myriad of different movements that can be performed in preparing the body for a workout or training session. The main point to remember is to include movements that mimic that which you will be performing in your activity, but at a lower-intensity. Use it as a time to connect with your body. You might be heading straight to the gym after work, or after a busy day with family - give yourself the opportunity to ground your mind and body, and then get stuck in.
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