How to Properly Warm-up

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Now that we have started off the New Year making the gym a part of our routine, it’s important we discuss how to warm up properly once we get there. This does not mean hopping on the treadmill or elliptical for 5-10min. Sure, you’ll warm yourself up quickly as you get your heart pumping, but when strength training, we want more than just a warm up of our body temperature. We want to wake up muscles that maybe haven’t been used much all day (if you are a morning gym goer, or if you have a mainly sedentary job) and prepare them for the task ahead. We want to incorporate a dynamic warm up.

A dynamic warm up up-regulates the CNS (Central Nervous System) to help the body transition from normal activity to more athletic activity. A proper warm up helps to improve our motor unit recruitment which in turn will produce positive progress in your lifts; it will help increase overall mobility helping us to perform exercises with more comfort and less restriction (squat deeper, pressing over head with full extension, etc.); and it will ensure all the smaller stabilizer muscles are ready to fire to prevent injury during your routine. The importance of a proper warm up is critical to the success and longevity of your body and your training.

The following warm ups can be used on appropriate training days. Upper body warm ups on upper body training days, lower body warm ups on lower body training days and any cardio or plyometric training session, and total body warm ups on total body training days, circuit training days, or circuit/ladder/complex cardio workouts.

 You may download and print this guide to How to Properly Warm Up

Upper Body Warm ups

warmup-wall-slidesWall slides:
1 set, 10 reps

Lean your head, upper back, and butt against a wall. Your feet should be 10-12 inches from the wall and parallel with each other. Your arms should be positioned against the wall, elbows bent to form 90-degree angles, upper arms at shoulder height. Keeping your hands, wrists, and elbows pressed against the wall, slide your elbows down and in toward your sides, as far as you can go. Hold for 1 second, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly slide your arms back up the wall. Go as high as you can while keeping your hands, arms, head, upper back, and butt from losing contact with the wall. Lower your arms. Repeat for the prescribed number of reps. If any of these body parts lose contact with the wall during the movement, stop. Lower your arms back to the bottom position, and only go back up to that point for the remainder of your reps.

warmup-x-jacksJumping Jacks:
1 set, 10reps

X- Jacks:
1 set, 10reps

Similar set up to a jumping jack, but instead of bringing your arms above your head, cross them in front of your chest, criss crossing your legs at the same time.

 

Lying Arm Crossovers:
1 set, 10reps each side

warmup-arm-crossoverLying on a mat on your left side, keeping your legs together, bend your knees up towards your chest to form a 90 degree angle (if you find discomfort in this, use a foam roller or towel in between your legs). Extend your arms out straight in front of you. Open your arms up and reach your right arm to the other side of the floor, turning onto your back and turning your head to the right to look over your right arm as you do so. Retract back to your starting position. Perform the prescribed number of reps before changing to the opposite side.

*If you are in colder climate, been sitting for a long period of time, or just don’t feel ready to lift, perform entire sequence 2-3 more times

Lower Body Warm ups

warmup-flexor-stretchHalf-kneeling hip flexor stretch:
1 set, 5 reps per side

Place a towel or pad under your left knee. Your right leg should be directly in front of your body, knee bent to 90 degrees, foot flat on the floor. While keeping your chest up and torso straight, gently brace your core and tighten your left glute. Slowly drive your hips forward until you feel a mild stretch in the front of your left hip. Continue to tighten left glute. Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Make sure you keep your core tight and the glute contracted for a nice stretch. Don’t extend with your lower back, and try to go a little farther with each repetition. Perform the prescribed number of reps before switching sides.

warmup-side-lungeSide lunge:
1 set, 8 reps per side

Stand as tall as you can with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift your left foot to take a big step to your left as you push your hips back and lower your body by dropping your hips and bending your left knee. Keep your right leg straight. Pause, then quickly push yourself back to the starting position. Perform for the prescribed number of reps before switching sides.

 

 

warmup-reverse-lungeReverse reaching lunge w/ knee hug:
1 set, 16 reps alternating sides

Stand feet shoulder width apart. Step back with your right foot into a reverse lunge, dropping your right knee to the floor. As you descend into the lunge, reach your arms up and over head, behind you to stretch the front portion of your body. As you bring your right leg forward back to starting position, drive your right knee up toward your chest and hug your leg tight to your body for 1 sec before switching sides.

 

warmup-body-weight-squatBody weight squats:
1 set, 10reps

Perform this exercise in front of a mirror, facing to the side so you can gauge your range of motion. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width apart, toes slightly flared out. Squat down, dropping your butt back, keeping head and chest up. Heels should remain on the ground throughout the full movement. Your goal is to be able to drop your butt below your knees without dropping your chest.

*If you are in colder climate, been sitting for a long period of time, or just don’t feel ready to lift, perform entire sequence 2-3 more times

Total Body warm ups

Jumping Jacks
1 set, 10 reps

warmup-flexor-stretchHalf-kneeling hip flexor stretch:
1 set, 5 reps per side

Place a towel or pad under your left knee. Your right leg should be directly in front of your body, knee bent to 90 degrees, foot flat on the floor. While keeping your chest up and torso straight, gently brace your core and tighten your left glute. Slowly drive your hips forward until you feel a mild stretch in the front of your left hip. Continue to tighten left glute. Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Make sure you keep your core tight and the glute contracted for a nice stretch. Don’t extend with your lower back, and try to go a little farther with each repetition. Perform the prescribed number of reps before switching sides.

Lying Arm Crossovers:
1 set, 10reps each side

warmup-arm-crossoverLying on a mat on your left side, keeping your legs together, bend your knees up towards your chest to form a 90 degree angle (if you find discomfort in this, use a foam roller or towel in between your legs). Extend your arms out straight in front of you. Open your arms up and reach your right arm to the other side of the floor, turning onto your back and turning your head to the right to look over your right arm as you do so. Retract back to your starting position. Perform the prescribed number of reps before changing to the opposite side.

warmup-reverse-lungeReverse reaching lunge w/ knee hug:
1 set, 16 reps alternating sides
Stand feet shoulder width apart. Step back with your right foot into a reverse lunge, dropping your right knee to the floor. As you descend into the lunge, reach your arms up and over head, behind you to stretch the front portion of your body. As you bring your right leg forward back to starting position, drive your right knee up toward your chest and hug your leg tight to your body for 1 sec before switching sides.

 

*If you are in colder climate, been sitting for a long period of time, or just don’t feel ready to lift, perform entire sequence 2-3 more times

 You may download and print this guide to How to Properly Warm Up