Warm Up Before You Workout

How to Warm Up Before Exercise

Woman doing squats in the gym
Hero Images/Getty Images

Warming up before exercise is a critical component of a safe and effective workout. A good warm up doesn't need to be elaborate or complicated, but it does need to increase your core temperature and get blood flowing to the muscles you'll be using during your workout. This is different than the post-workout stretching session, which is generally used to increase range of motion around a joint and help recover after exercise.  The following dynamic warm up routine can be used as a good starting point before engaging in most sports.

Warm Up Workout Routine - High Knees Walk

High knees walk
High knees walk. Getty Images / Maskot

The simple high knees walk will loosen the hips, knees and ankles and get the blood circulating. Start with about ten paces, lifting the knees up toward the elbows as your walk. Turn around and do ten paces back to the starting point. Do one more set and this time add a small bounce in your step and exaggerate your stride and arm swing until you really feel the blood moving. Add a finally set if you still feel a bit tight.

Warm Up Workout Routine - Walking Lunge With Arms Up

Lunge walk
Lunge walk. Cultura RM/Peter Muller

To perform this warm up move, do a walking lunge for about ten paces forward, turn around and lunge ten paces back to the starting point.  With each step, slowly sink down toward the ground with you back leg, allowing the knee to touch the ground. Hold each step for a second and continue. With each set add a bit more range of motion to the stride length and depth. If you want to increase the range of motion even more, hold your arms up over your head as you lunge. Reach up with you arms and sink into the lunge. 

Warm Up Workout Routine - The Skip with Twist Exercise

David Beckham Warms Up
David Beckham Warms Up. Phil Cole / Getty Images

Warm Up Workout Routine: The Skip with Twist Exercise

The skip with twist add a bit more speed to the warm up as well as adding a rotation to the movements. The skip with a twist exercise engages the muscles of the core as well as the upper and lower body in a gentle and rhythmic warm-up. To do it right:

  • Find a level place with enough room for about 10 full forward strides.
  • Begin by slowly skipping forward 10 strides (5 per side), stop and turn around.
  • For each return skip, gradually add more intensity and a larger twist to your strides.
  • Continue to add a full arm swing and drive your knees a bit higher.
  • Finally, add the torso twist as soccer icon David Beckham demonstrates in the photo. Take full skipping strides, driving your knees upward and your arms across your body to a full range of motion.
  • Keep your movements smooth and controlled, not sloppy. Focus on your core and abdominal muscles to get the most from this warm up this exercise.

Warm Up With the Side to Side Drills

Side to side step
Side to side warm up exercise. Getty Images/Valentin Casarsa

The lateral stabilizers of the hips and knees shouldn't be neglected during your dynamic warm up, so add in several rounds of side to side steps or skips to warm them up. You can use ladder drills, or just do some simple side steps. Pick up the pace from a side to side walk to a skip with each set. You can also do the a lateral band walking exercise to get an even  deeper warm up, or use the glute activation routine if you sit a lot during the day.

Warm Up With Rope Jumping

Jumping Rope
Jumping Rope. Scott Thomas/Getty Images

Finally, you can complete your warm up with a Jump Rope

A jump rope can be used for both a basic warm up exercise and a full-on cardio workout. To use rope jumping as part of a simple warm up routine, start with a slow, double-step pace. This means you jump over the rope and take a small bounce before the rope comes back around. You will move the rope more slowly and not jump as high or as quickly.

To use rope jumping in this warm up routine, jump slowly for thirty seconds, rest for 10 seconds and jump for another minute before moving to the next warm up exercise.

You can learn more about jumping technique and benefits by reading: Use a Jump Rope for an Inexpensive and Portable Workout.

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