Tell me if this sounds familiar: You wake up really early, find a granola bar. and demolish it. You step outside, twist your torso back and forth a few times, push against a wall to stretch the calves, kick your legs a few times, and off you go for your run.
Sadly, this is how most people start their workout, and even that may be a stretch. A proper and thorough warm up can be one of the most beneficial parts to your workout, whether it’s for a run, a weight session, Pilates, or a pick-up game of basketball.
It’s important to understand why you warm up and what it will do for your body. A good warm up is dynamic in nature, meaning you move around while actively stretching, as opposed to a static warm up where you are stationary. Think of stationary as sitting on the ground and grabbing your toes to stretch your hamstrings.
Never static stretch a cold muscle. Instead use a dynamic warm up to bring blood to the tissue, so it is more pliable. Your warm up should be around 5–10 minutes and include large muscle groups, rather than isolating a small group. A dynamic warm up delivers oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and prepares your heart for an increase in activity. It also wakes up your nervous system, making your nerve-to-muscle pathways ready to roll!
WARM UP DRILLS:
Without going too in-depth with certain drills, here are some basic movements to get your body and your brain ready to go to get the most out of your workout.
1. BODY WEIGHT SQUATS (X10)
Hinge back at the hip and sit down to parallel. Make sure your back is flat and keep your feet firmly planted in the ground.
2. LEG SWINGS (X10 EACH WAY)
Keep one foot on the ground while holding on to a fence or wall. Swing your leg side to side (think 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock). Then swing your leg front to back in the same fashion.
3. PUSH UPS (X5–10)
Get those arms pumping! Go from your knees if you have to. Just make sure your chest touches whatever surface your hands are touching. You can even go against a railing if regular and knee push-ups are too hard.
4. WALKING LUNGES + TORSO TWIST (X10 EACH LEG)
Keep a slight forward lean as your ankle steps over opposite knee as you lunge forward. In the bottom position, twist your torso back and reach over the knee that’s out in front of you. Do this with each step.
5. JUMPING JACKS (X20)
Start with your hands by your sides as you stand. Jump up and simultaneously bring your arms over your head and spread your feet apart.
6. ARM CIRCLES (X10 EACH WAY)
While standing tall, extend your arms straight out like the letter “T.” In small circles, move them clockwise, then counter clockwise. Then move on to big circles in the same fashion.
7. WALKING KNEE HUGS (X10 EACH)
Each step you take, grab one of your shins and hug it to your chest as you stay nice and tall. This will also challenge your balance!
David Queck is a former assistant track and field coach for the University of Memphis. and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and a Level 1 Track and Field Coach certified by United States Track and Field (USATF).