Always start your workout with a warm-up exercise. Although flexibility and unrestricted movement may be important for long term injury prevention, static stretching and flexibility exercises are not an important part of a warm-up. Stretching moves a joint through its full range of motion, however it does this passively and does very little to increase the temperature of muscle. The warm-up should be active and move the joints through their full range of motion.
the purpose of warm-ups are:
- Increase blood flow to your working muscles, better preparing them for the additional workload to come
- Increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which prevents you from getting out of breath to early or too easily
- Prepare your heart gradually for an increase in activity, helping you avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure.
- Prime your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise, which can improve the quality of your workout
- Improve coordination and reaction times
- Reduce the chance of soft tissue (ligament, tendon and muscle) injuries by allowing your muscles and joints to move through a greater range of motion easily (and safely)
- Lubricate your joints for easier (and less painful) movement
- Increase blood temperature, which can allow you to work out longer or harder
- Prompt hormonal changes in the body responsible for regulating energy production
- Help mentally prepare you for the workout ahead, giving you a few minutes to get “pumped up” for a great workout!
Focuses on the muscles that cross the hip, knee, and ankle on the anterior and posterior side
- High Knee Walk: As you step forward, grasp just below the knee on the opposite legs and pull the knee towards the chest. Extend the stepping leg, and rise on the toes. Keep the chest high, don’t lean back.
- High Knee Skip: This exercise is gentle skipping to warm-up the hip muscles. The focus is on rhythmic movement not height or distance. Swing arms opposite the legs. If the left knee is forward the, left arm is back.
- High Knee Run: Start by running in place, keeping the knees high. Slowly progress forward. Focus on landing on the ball of the foot. Do not lean back or round the shoulders. Pump the arms.
- Heel-up: Quickly flex the knee bringing the heel of the foot towards the buttocks. Pump the arms in sync with the legs.
- Straight-leg Walk: March with straight legs, and reach for toes with the opposite hand. Keep the chest high, don’t lean back. Do not kick the leg up, actively raise it until you feel tension in the hamstrings.
- Straight-leg Skip: Same as above with rhythmic skipping included.
- Straight-leg Deadlift Walk: Balance on one leg with the arms out to side. Rotate at the hip and lean forward until the chest is parallel to the ground. Keep both legs straight. Return to the upright position. To move forward, swing the back leg through for one large step.
- Backward Run: Literally run backwards. Take large steps, reaching as far as possible with the lead leg. Lean forward at the hips, keep the eyes looking forward.
- Backpedal: Start with the hips low, in a ¼ squat position. Take smaller steps compared to the backward run, keep the feet beneath the hips. Focus on short quick steps. Keep the hips low, and the chest held high.
- Backward and forward lunge walks: Take one giant step forward; drop down into the lunge position, and then using the forward leg rise out of the lunge position and step forward with the opposite leg. For the backward lunge, do the same except you are walking backwards.
- Firewalkers (Band Abduction Side Step): Stand with both feet inside a small, tightly looped band or hold onto handles if you have an unlooped band. Cross the band so it forms an X and hold on tightly to each end. Step to the side for 4 to 8 steps, keeping the toes and knee caps straight forward and pausing slightly with the leg abducted (lifted out to the side) before taking your next step to the side. Keep your torso vertical and still throughout the set to avoid lateral rocking. Begin with less tension for the first pass or two, then increase resistance by tightening your grip on the band to further warm up the hips. Shoot for a minute of movement back and forth, making sure each side gets equal treatment.
Focuses on the lateral and medial muscles of the hip and thigh
- Lateral Lunge: Begin with feet about four feet apart. Shift your weight to the right, flex the right knee and hip, and keep the left leg straight. Keep the right heel down, and sit back without rounding the back. Drive through the right foot and step back into the upright position. Repeat for the desired distance and repeat for the left leg.
Lower Body Sample Warm-up Protocol
- If your first exercise in a strength program will be squats or deadlifts for 4 sets of 4-6 repetitions, and you plan to do 200 pounds as your first work set for legs, then your warm-up might resemble the following:
- 2 minutes high-step stair climber or Jacob’s Ladder
- Hip Circles (30 sec. per leg)
- Leg Swings (30 sec. per leg, 2 directions = 2 minutes)
- Tiptoe walking lunges (twice around the room, once with arms overhead but no weight, once with 8-12# in each hand)
- Firewalkers (light band resistance, 4 sets of 8 steps in each direction with no rest)
- Overhead Dowel Squats (1 un weighted set of 12 reps getting lower with each repetition; 1 set light load to help deepen squat and get upper body limber)
- Back Barbell Squats warm-up sets: Bar (45#) 5 reps; 95# 5 reps; 135# 3 reps; 175# 3 reps and you should be ready to go for your first set of 4-6 with 200#.
Total Targeted Warm-up Time – approximately 12 minutes
Focuses on the muscles that cross the shoulder and shoulder girdle
- Jumping Jack: Stand upright with the hands by your side. Jump and raise your arms up from your side overhead and land with feet wider than shoulder width apart. Jump and return to the start position. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
- Seal Jack: Stand upright with your hands together in front of your chest. Jump and move arms out to the side and land with feet wider than shoulder width apart. Jump and return to the start position. The arms are making a seal clapping motion. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
- Ski Jack: Stand upright with the hands by your side. Jump and move arms and legs in a cross-country ski motion. Repeat for 15 repetitions.
- Arm Circles: Lift both arms straight out to your sides, holding them parallel to the ground. Make small backward circles, rotating through the shoulder joint, gradually increasing the circumference of the circle until your arms are rotating in giant circles that reach above the head and down to the thighs. Complete 30 seconds of easy backward circles and then reverse directions and perform 30 seconds going forward in ever increasing sizes of cicles.
- Arm Swings(huggers)***: hugs until you feel a lengthening and warming sensation through the back and chest muscles.
- Traction: Following arm circles and swings, you should have decent warmth throughout the whole upper body. Now move to your surgical tubing, Jump Stretch or other exercise band attached to a bench, squat rack, or other sturdy surface. Wrap your Right hand around the band and then lean back against the resistance, stepping into it with your right foot to stretch the right rhomboids and lats. Keep the arm straight and gently but consistently move into the band, finding those points of tightness and listening to your body carefully to go where you feel it the most. Do not do this exercise to the point of pain; it should always feel good. Then turn and face the other direction, leaning into your left foot, and feel the stretch through the right pectorals and deltoids. Spend 1-2 minutes with one hand, then switch and repeat both directions for the other.
- Pendulums: As a weighted dynamic stretch exercise, grab a light dumbbell (anywhere from 3-15 pounds) and support yourself in a bent-over position with back flat, hand on thigh or bench, and legs wide for a good base of support. Keeping the movement gentle, slowly swing the weighted arm in a small and ever increasing circle, going both clockwise and counter clockwise. Complete 12-15 repetitions each direction, each arm. Repeat a second set with slightly more weight if desired.
- Letter Draws: Position yourself sitting and facing into an adjustable bench set at a 30 degree incline angle with arms hanging down toward the floor. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand. With arms straight but not locked out, create the letter “T” with your arms raising out to the sides, in a reverse fly position, for a set of 4-5 repetitions. Immediately lift the weights into a “Y” with the hands raising up and away from midline, and perform 4-5 repetitions. Bend the arms at a right angle and perform an “L” raise (or “W” if you need to keep the elbows positioned closer to the trunk than 90 degrees) and do 4-5 repetitions. The last position is a straight “I” down and back behind you to hit rear deltoids and triceps for the final 4-5 repetitions. Rest following all 4 sets (i.e. 16-20 repetitions) for about one minute and repeat again if desired.
Upper Body Sample Warmup Protocol
If your first two exercises in a strength program will be Bench Press and Pullups for 5 sets of 6 repetitions each, and you plan to do 150 pounds as your first bench press work set and body weight plus 25 pounds for your first pull-up set, then your warmup might look like this:
- 2 minutes rowing machine
- Arm Circles (1 min.)
- Arm Swings (30 sec.)
- Traction (2 min.)
- Pendulums 2 sets 15 repetitions each arm, each direction (1:30 min.)
- 1 series Letter Draw (1 min)
- Bench Press set 1: 5 repetitions 75#
- Pullups set 1: 5 repetitions bodyweight
- Bench press set 2: 3 repetitions 125#
- Pullups set 2: 3 repetitions 15# (2 min.)
Total Targeted Warm-up Time – 10 minutes