When life means you’re busy, it’s tempting to jump right into your workout to maximise the time you’ve got. But when you skip a warm-up, you’re setting your body up to be less efficient—and potentially end up with an injury.
Exercising without a warm-up is a huge no-no. When you are performing strength-training exercises, your muscles shorten and lengthen, and if they aren’t warm or ‘prepped,’ your muscles are more prone to tear and pull.
The key components of a warm-up are “increasing the body’s core temperature, mobility, muscle activation, and technical build-up.” By increasing the body’s temperature, you loosen the tissues around your joints, increasing their range of motion.
Better flexibility does two things:
- Allows your body to move better through the motions of your workout.
- Helps to protect you from injury.
Incorporating mobility will help reduce the risk of injury and help the body utilise the correct muscles for certain movements and prep them for power production. The truth is, you really only need five minutes to get in a good warm-up. You just have to stop looking at it as taking away from your workout, but recognise that it’s helping you better maximise the minimal time you’ve got.
A good warm-up should be specific to the range of motion you need for that particular workout. There’s a huge variety of warm-up exercises you can do, so we put together a great, 5-minute warm-up you can use before most strength-training sessions.
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Overview of the warm-up:
- 8 inward hip rotations, 8 outward hip rotations (each side)
- 8 forward arm circles, 8 backward arm circles
- 2 minutes jumping rope
- 8 walk-outs
- 12 deep reverse lunge to knee raise
- 12 deep reverse lunge to knee raise
- 15 squats with a 10-rep pulse at the end
Hip Circles — 8 reps outward, 8 reps inward:
Hip rotations are a great way to loosen up the hips. If your hips are tight, like mine, these are so important to help with preparing for lower body exercises. Tight hips can inhibit the muscles around them from firing properly, specifically the glues, which can cause other body parts to compensate and become strained.
- Stand with feet together.
- Raise one knee to 90 degrees. Circle the hip out, making a big circle with your knee. Make the movement as wide as you can while staying stable.
- Keep circling slowly for eight reps, then switch direction for another eight reps. Repeat on the other leg.
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Arm circles — 8 reps forward, 8 reps backward:
Arm circles are a great (and super easy) way to loosen up tension in the shoulders and get the joints warm.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your sides.
- Slowly swing your arms forward in a circular motion. You should feel your shoulders loosening up as you go.
- Continue the circular motion for eight reps. Then, circle the arms in the opposite direction for eight reps.
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Jump Rope — 2 minutes:
Jumping rope is one of the quickest ways to get your heart rate up and your body warm. Jumping for two minutes at a moderate pace. You should feel your heart beating faster. Bonus: Jumping rope is a great warm-up for your arms and shoulders, too!
- Grab your jump rope and jump for 2 minutes.
Walk-Outs — 8 reps:
Walk-outs are particularly good for stretching the hamstrings, and also activate your core. With this move, you’ll work on flexibility, mobility, and strength. Pick up the speed to get your heart rate pumping even more.
- Start with your feet hip-width apart, arms at sides.
- Bend the at hips to reach your hands to floor; crawl out to a high plank position.
- Pause for a couple seconds your with shoulders over your wrists and abs engaged.
- Crawl your hands back to feet and stand up. That’s one rep.
- Do eight reps.
Reverse Lunge to Knee Raise — 12 reps each side:
Lunges work the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Plus, going straight from lunge to lift requires some serious core strength and stability.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big step back with your right foot. Bend both knees, lowering yourself until your right knee is about 6 inches off the floor.
- Push off your right foot to stand up, and bring the knee out in front of you at a 90-degree angle.
- Immediately step your right foot back into another reverse lunge.
- Do 12 reps on one leg, then 12 reps on the other.
Squats — 15 reps:
Squats work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. And depending on what type of strength training you’re doing, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing a squatting motion at some point, with or without weight. Doing a few as part of your warm-up helps your body get used to the movement before you progress it.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly, hands at your chest.
- Bend at your knees and hips to move into a squat, bringing your butt down to knee height. Keep your chest high.
- Drive through your heels to return to standing. Do 15 reps.
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Squat Pulses — 10 seconds:
- After you’ve done 15 squats, pulse in the squat position for 10 seconds.
- It works the same muscles in a slightly different way, and adding some speed raises your heart rate a bit, too.
- Remember to keep your back flat (no arching or rounding) and chest raised.