Top 5 Warm up Exercises, And What NOT To Do When Warming Up

women doing leg stretch in garden

What it Takes for A Good Warm Up   

At Texas FITT, serving the communities of Pantego and Arlington, we’re passionate about helping all our members achieve their health and fitness goals. But across the board, the number one area we see neglected the most by our clients is a proper warm-up, cool down, and general mobility. Today, our Texas FITT trainers would like to focus on what it takes for a good warm-up that can prepare your body for virtually any type of exercise–and a few things you should probably avoid.

Yes–Your Warm-Up Matters

We’re not totally sure why people often skip or skimp on warm-ups: maybe people feel pressed for time or are just so excited about getting their workout done that they rush into it. Others may simply not know what to do, and if not supervised in a fitness class environment, they may be more likely to skip a warm-up altogether.

The thing is, a good warm-up goes far beyond injury prevention. A properly warmed-up body can move through a greater range of motion with more quality movement and more efficient neuromuscular control.

Why does this matter to you? Simply put: good warm-ups can accelerate your results and maximize your fitness goals!

Warm Up Movements To Do…

The main goal of any warm-up should be to prepare your muscles, joints, heart, and lungs for challenging physical activity. And while specific exercises or movements may require more nuanced warm-ups, the following 5 exercises are super effective for preparing your body in general:

  1. Light cardio. Try 5-10 minutes of light jogging, brisk walking, rowing, or cycling to get your heart rate slightly elevated, blood flowing, and joints and muscles warm.
  2. Arm circles. Hold your arms out in a T. Keeping your elbows straight, swing your arms forward in a large circle 20 times, then reverse directions.
  3. Leg swings. Put your hand against a wall or pole to stabilize yourself. Swing one leg forward as far as you can, then swing it back, moving from the hip and keeping your leg straight as possible. Repeat 20 times, then switch legs.
  4. Bear crawls. Get down on your hands and feet and “crawl” across the floor for about 2-3 minutes. For an extra challenge, try going in the reverse direction.
  5. Burpees. Jump or step down to the floor until you’re resting completely prone on the ground. Then, step or jump up back to standing, and jump and clap once over your head. Repeat slowly or quickly for 2-3 minutes.

What Stretches NOT To Do

  1. Don’t do static stretching. Stretching your muscles when they’re “cold” can cause them to constrict defensively and may damage your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons. Static stretching is best done after a workout when your connective tissue is sufficiently warm and loose. The key with any static stretch is to hold the position for at least 90 seconds to 2 minutes–anything less won’t actually do anything to increase your flexibility.

Don’t skip it! No matter how pressed you are for time, you should always make the effort to put in at least 5-10 minutes of dedicated warm-up time. At Texas FITT, we offer many group fitness classes with time specifically set aside for warm up. Our trainers can offer you specific moves that will help you warm up any problem areas.