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Should You Warm-Up Before Your Workout?

A passion for all things health and fitness!

Today’s post is a little long, but, I promise, it’s worth the read!

We’ve talked about the benefits of a warm-up before a workout.

Increased heart and respiratory rate. Why is this beneficial? Increases blood flow to active muscles, and increases the cardiorespiratory system’s capacity to perform the work.

Increased tissue temperature. Why is this beneficial? Increases muscle efficiency, flexibility, metabolic rate and rate of muscle contraction.

Increased mental readiness for exercise. Why is this beneficial? Gets your head in the game.

Read more

Now, let’s go into more detail of how to effectively and safely prepare your body [and mind] for a workout.

Don't skip the warm-up before you workout. It's important that you gradually work your way up to more intense physical activity. A properly performed warm-up before a workout is important with the goal of preparing the athlete mentally and physically for the coming demands being placed on the body. FREE Warm Up Routine Included. Download the FREE printable at jillconyers.com.

 

There is a lot of debate about the effectiveness of the different types of stretching exercises and the types you should or should not use.

Should you warm-up before a workout? Yes.

What type of warm up exercises should you do? Like almost everything with fitness, the answer is, it depends.

To better experience the benefits of warming up with stretching exercises variety of techniques should be used based on the activity to be performed, individual fitness level and needs. 

A properly performed warm-up before a workout is important with the goal of preparing the athlete mentally and physically for the demands that will be placed on the body during a workout. The objectives of a warm-up are to increase heart rate, blood flow, internal temperatures of the muscles, and respiration rate.

Types of Warm-Up Exercises

Self-Myofascial Release (aka Foam Rolling)

  • Used to help correct muscle imbalances and reduce trigger points within the muscle.
  • Recommended to be performed before stretching.
  • Find a tender spot and hold for about at least 30 seconds until the discomfort is reduced.

Static Stretching*

  • Taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding.
  • Used to lengthen tight muscles.
  • Perform 1-3 sets holding each stretch 30 seconds.

Active Isolated Stretching*

  • Target muscles to optimally lengthen without triggering the protective stretch reflex, which causes the muscle to recoil in at attempt to prevent, being over stretched.
  • Muscles will exhibit a greater range of motion over the course of each set of stretching repeats.
  • Perform 1-2 sets. Hold a stretch for one to two seconds, relax, and then repeat the movement for 5 to 10 times exhaling on the stretch and inhaling on the release.

Dynamic Stretching

  • Continuously moving a muscle through full available range of motion to activate muscles, improve range of motion and body awareness.
  • Perform 1-2 sets of 5 to 7 exercises with 10 to 15 repetitions.

DON’T SKIP THE WARM-UP BEFORE YOU WORKOUT. IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU GRADUALLY WORK YOUR WAY UP TO MORE INTENSE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.

A proper warm-up should take the body through full ranges of motion while establishing proper neuromuscular firing patterns and give mechanical advantage to improve performance.

Warm up your entire body at home with these dynamic warm up exercises. Raise your heart rate and prepare your body and joints for the workout to follow.

*A Note About Stretching

If stretching exercises are part of your workout routine, it’s best to do them after the warm-up or cool-down phase, when your muscles are already warm.

Don't skip the warm-up before you workout. It's important that you gradually work your way up to more intense physical activity. A properly performed warm-up before a workout is important with the goal of preparing the athlete mentally and physically for the coming demands being placed on the body. FREE Warm Up Routine Included. Download the FREE printable at jillconyers.com.

Right click the image above to save to your mobile device or download the workout to print.

Download

I am a certified personal trainer, but this workout was not created for your specific fitness level and needs. Make modifications as needed. Intensity and rest periods should be based on your individual fitness level. See your physician before beginning any exercise program. This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician. 

Jumping Jacks (1) Stand with your feet together and your hands down by your side. (2) In one motion jump your feet out to the side and raise your arms above your head. (3) Immediately reverse that motion by jumping back to the starting position. Keep your pace as fast as possible. Targets: cardiorespiratory system, total body warm up

Large Arm Circles (1) Stand holding your arms straight out to your sides, parallel to the floor slightly lower than shoulder height. (2) Moving through complete range of motion, start by making small circles with your arms progressing to bigger circles (windmill your arms). (3) Do the prescribed number of reps forward and the prescribed number of reps backwards. Targets: shoulders, upper back

Prisoner Squat (1) Stand with your feet hip width apart and back naturally arched. Brace your core throughout the entire exercise. (2) Place your fingers on the back of your head as if you were going to do a crunch. Keep your elbows and shoulders back, weight in your heels and eyes focused straight ahead. (3) Lower your body as far as you can (or until thighs are parallel to the floor) by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. (4) Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Targets: quads, core, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

Butt Kicks (1) Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead and placed shoulder-width apart. (2) Contract your glutes, jump up and bring your heel to your butt, being careful not to arch your back. (3) Land softly and repeat with control. Keep your pace as fast as possible. Targets: cardiorespiratory system, glute max, hamstrings

Back To Front Leg Swing (1) Stand tall and hold on to a steady object with your left hand. (2) Keeping your right knee nearly straight, swing your right leg backward as high as you comfortably can. (3) Then, swing your right leg forward as far as you comfortably can. One rep is a swing forward and backward. (4) Swing back and forth continuously for the prescribe reps or amount of time. Remember: Keep your torso upright throughout the entire movement. Targets: hamstrings, glutes, hips 

Side-to-Side Leg Swing (1) Stand tall holding on to a sturdy object with both hands (if needed for balance). (2) Keeping your right knee straight, swing your right leg out to the side as high as you comfortably can. (3) Swing your leg back toward your body so that it crosses in front of your left leg. That’s one rep. (4) Swing back and forth continuously for prescribed amount of time or reps. (5) Repeat with the left leg. Targets: hip adductors, outer hips 

Wait. Before you go I have exciting news!

I love blogging communities and health and fitness communities. Now I have the best of both worlds.

The Healthy Living Blogging Boost Facebook group has launched!

For the past few months, two blogging friends, Glenneth at Your Path To Fit and Kailya at Healthy Helper Blog, and I have created a blogging support group for healthy living bloggers. Our vision and purpose is to create a place that provides support, conversations, information and sharing for the members. There are be daily threads for bloggers to share links to their health and fitness blog posts and social media, advice on blogging and promoting your content, and support for each other in all things blogging or whatever else we might need.

Growing my blog with 2 specific social media is one of my blogging goals for 2016. I started being an active participant in a few different Facebook blogging support groups and I’ve seen an increase in traffic and I’ve have enjoyed the support and the conversations about growing your blog. Members can participate in as few or as many as they want each day. All we ask if that if they participate in a thread, they reciprocate fully. Threads go up at 4AM each morning and members have until 9PM the following day to complete the task. If you have any question email me at jillconyers@gmail.com or use the contact tab in the menu bar above.

Wouldn’t you love a place to share your posts and chat about all things blogging? You can read more about the group here or go to the group page and request to join. After you’re approved you can start sharing your posts and supporting the other members.

We’re looking forward to having you in the group!

I would love to chat:

Do you tend to skip the warm-up? Of the different types of warm-ups, which one do you use most often? Have you ever used a combination of the different types?

You might also like:

17 Tips To make the Most Out of Your Workouts
How To Progress Your Workout To Reach Your Goal
Strength Training Systems

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44 Comments

  1. For a good warmup, I try to do slower version of the same exercises I am planning to do in my workout (front kicks, squats…). I read that stretching is actually compromising the performance (it was published in a journal of strength and conditioning response).

  2. Honestly, I never do. Maybe I need to try more often, I’ll see how the difference is.

  3. I will always remember when I ran track – we were to warm up by running around the field once, and then we would stretch and then get to our running exercises!

  4. Warm up and cool down is so important. I often have people walk into class late and try to just jump into the workout. I wish more people understood why the warm-up is so important. Thanks for sharing!

  5. CourtneyLynne says:

    I honestly think you need to warm up! I was in gymnastics and cheer as a kid and let me tell you, I ended up with a 2 month injury due to me attempting a tumble run and not stretching and pulling a muscle so bad my ENTIRE arm turned black and blue -_- one of the grossest things to ever see!

  6. I used to think it wasn’t important for me to warm up. Just jump on the treadmill or do yoga. I had a training session and my trainer explained the many benefits to me. I now workout at home. I really love your warm-up routine. I have printed it and it is going on the bulletin board in our workout area. I also love your new facebook group. I would love to join

  7. Love the look of this workout! I’ve been digging your workouts lately so I can’t wait to try this one out! YAY for #HLBloggingBoost!

  8. How do you find such great workouts! I definitely need to try some out once I’m through with this pregnancy!! I will need to work all parts of my body, including mental health! Such a great review of the different routines on your site. I have a go-to place for workout routines now. So cool!

  9. I always forget to warm up before working out. Thankfully I haven’t had any problems. I’m definitely going to start doing warm ups after reading this!

    Southern Soul

  10. There are many nights I do not feel good and would rather not be at the gym but I know I will feel better once I get my head in the game. That’s exactly what I use my warm up for.

  11. It is so important to do a good warm up and yet I resist it so much. I do long distance stuff, so I figure I’ll be there so long who needs to warm up? Wrong but unfortunately true. Thanks for the insight.

  12. Great warm up, Jill! Arm swings, leg swings, and other warm ups make a significant difference for strength training, and I like having a detailed warm up to follow – thank you!

  13. I love fitness blogs. I’m trying very hard to loose weight but with PCOS and thyroid issues, it’s hard. Thanks for the tips, I’ll def use these.

  14. I admit, I usually skip the warm up. If I do any – it is the stretching. Starting at my feet and working up the body I do have a stretch routine. But like I said – I skip it way toooooo often. I know I should be stretching more.

  15. laura londergan says:

    I feel like it’s always a good idea to do some sort of pre-warm up. I have suffered a few minor mishaps but not doing it. 😉

  16. Thanks for reminding that how important it is to do warm up before do the workout. These steps of warming up due to my health issue is already a workout for me.

  17. I am terrible about warming up! I need to be so much better, but it seems like just another step!

  18. I did my first plank yesterday, you inspire me a lot! And I also did push ups today, I think its a good start

  19. This is so helpful! I’m terrible about working out but it’s something I need to be better about it. Thank you for this helpful information!

  20. I need to be better at warming up. I’m usually just so excited to get my workout over with!

  21. I’ve read both sides of the argument on stretching, but you make some excellent points. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  22. Its the least favorite part of mybootcamp workout…. we run a lap around the park… about a mile. I hate every moment of it, but the one time I skipped it I hurt one of my glutes in the regular workout so I missed a month. Now, I never skip it…. I know I have to do it to warm up my body to get the best workout!!

  23. I only recently started using foam rollers but they definitely make a difference. I’m learning something new every day 🙂

  24. You know, I always skip the warm up in an effort to save time. You’ve really laid things out in a simple way and I love that I can download a copy.

  25. Funnily enough I never warm up before I workout. I know how important it is but it’s very boring for me! Great tips though. I prefer to cool down and spend time relaxing my muscles.

  26. I def need increased mental readiness when I am going to exercise. If my head is not in the game I’m likely to quit half way through or not start at all.

  27. I agree you should never skip on warming up because without it you can cause serious damage! It might have been a long post but it certainly cleared up questions I had prior to reading it!

  28. I am guilty of skipping my warm-ups..often. When I had my hip bursitis and tendinitis issues, I got into a good routine of warming up before my runs, but I am now back to the same old. Thank you for posting this – I like the graphics with the list of the warm-up exercises and will definitely be saving that as a reminder for myself!!

  29. i definitely always warm up! I dont know how people WO without it! even if i’m in a rush, i’ll do like 5 of each exercise of something really quickly to get my blood flowing!
    my normal FULL warm up is:
    walk/jog/jog/spring/jog (a lap=1/16th mile)
    high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks (20 each)
    BW squats (5 and hold 5 sec x3)
    down dog to runners lunge (3)
    arm circles & shoulder stretch
    some lunges and arm stretches is i feel like it. helps me get warmed up an focused!

  30. I’m super guilty of skipping the warm up, but I do love foam rolling when I do it. This was very informative and I love the detail you went into for different warm ups.

  31. So helpful in how I should get ready in my workouts! I want to do more with foam rolling. I have a roller but never think I use it correctly. Going to check more into this now…
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

  32. I am so guilty of not warming up before working out but I know how important it is. I’ve had my fair share of injuries to prove it. There’s so much different advice floating around: do dynamic stretching, don’t do static stretching, foam roll, don’t foam roll, etc. but I think you’re absolutely right when you say it depends on what your workout is going to look like! I pinned your warm-up routine and I’ll definitely be doing it a lot more often! Thanks for the post!

  33. Ooops! Guilty as charged. If I am working out on my own I usually skip the warm up and just jump head first into whatever I am doing and pay for it dearly. Silly right! I know better too…

  34. I’m so out of shape that sometimes.ea my warm up feels like a workout I’m getting better tbough.

  35. Great warm-up, Jill! My bootcampers do butt kicks every week!!

  36. Becky always has me do a dynamic warm up before we workout. She also adds Carioca to the mix, which took me forever to master. Seriously, I am so uncoordinated!

    I thought static stretching before a workout was a no-no?

  37. THanks Jill, I will be a good girl and warm up today . . .and also check out the FB group, awesome!

  38. I definitely need to do BETTER about warming up EVERY time before I workout. Great tips. Also, hope everyone checks out Healthy Living Blogging Boost! Come join us!

  39. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    Yes, a warm up is VERY important. It still surprises me how many exercise classes I go to where they don’t warm up first.

  40. You are right on about having the warm-up mimic what your workout is going be! In the past two years I started doing dynamic warm-ups before each run and, if I’m doing a hard effort like speed drills, I do an extra long (2 mile) warm-up before getting into the speed. It has worked wonderfully for me!!

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