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Picture this: you’re at the gym, you’re in your exercise clothes, and you’re ready to jump into your workout. You pick up a set of dumbbells, gearing yourself up for a weight training session; however, someone stops you before you can even do a single rep. You set down your weights, all confused as you turn to the person who stopped you. You then get asked this question, “Did you warm up?”
If your answer to that question is no, then you aren’t alone. Thousands of individuals, especially busy people, skip the warm-up before a workout. For a lot of people, a warm-up is a part of the workout that can be totally skipped. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Why is It Important to Have a Full-Body Warm-Up Routine?
Before throwing your body into your workout plans, it’s important to awaken the muscles and joints. This is what we call a warm-up. There are two primary reasons why warm-ups are necessary before a workout:
Increase Body Temperature and Flexibility
Performing a series of dynamic movements boosts your heart rate and gets the blood flowing in your entire body, increasing your temperature. It makes your muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons more limber as well. Warming up allows your body to be up to speed and prepares it to tackle the workout ahead, leading to a better performance in the actual workout.
If you dive into your workout program with cold muscles, your range of motion will be limited. Not only that but your endurance and energy will be limited as well since your mind and body are playing catch-up with each other, figuring out why the muscles are suddenly experiencing demanding movements.
Having this lag between the mind and body can increase your risk of injury as you work out. A quick warm-up session reduces the potential injuries that you could sustain. It also ensures that your whole body is at its best capacity as you perform exercises.
How Should I Warm Up Before a Full Body Workout?
Experts recommend that a total body warm-up session before diving into a workout should consist of dynamic exercises. Certainly, static stretching can improve flexibility as well; however, it’s not enough to warm you up. On the other hand, dynamic stretching involves active movements where the joints and muscle tissues go through a full range of motion.
Examples of dynamic stretches include arm circles, foam rolling, jump rope, jumping jacks, walking lunges, and more. These exercises are ideal to get the body warm as they are functional and mimic the exercises that an individual will perform later on. Here are a couple of warm-up exercises that can get your heart rate racing and prepare you for your workout!
Stand with your knees slightly bent, your feet shoulder-width apart. Stretch your arms horizontally to the sides. Next, cross your arms at the front and then quickly bring them back as far as you can. Do this for 60 seconds.
This movement loosens up the hips and stretches out the lower back. You may need to hold on to a wall or a balancing bar for this warmup. To begin, raise your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Move it out to the side and then rotate your thigh so that your shin is parallel to the floor behind you. Revert to the start and repeat the movement in reverse. Repeat with your left leg.
Squat Side Kicks
Begin in a squat position and as soon as you stand up, switch your weight to the left leg. Lift your right leg out to the side. Return to the squat position. Repeat with the left leg.
Alternating Lateral Lunges
This total body movement helps lengthen your adductors and warms up the glutes. To do this, start with your hands behind your head, elbows pointed out to the sides, and your chest open. Take a big step out to the right while keeping both feet pointed forward.
Lean toward your right leg as you stick your butt back as far as you can. Make sure that your left leg is straight. Then, step your right foot back up to your left and step out to your left side, repeating the exercise.
This movement warms up the arms, legs, and core muscles. Begin in a pushup position with your hands under your shoulders. Bend one leg and bring your knee up under your hips. Next, switch legs with a jumping step, making sure that only one foot touches the ground at a time. Continue switching legs as fast as you can.
World’s Greatest Stretch
Doing this exercise not only helps your upper back but also stretches the lower body, making it an ideal movement to include in your warmup. Start by standing, and then take a big step forward with your left foot. Place your hands on the ground inside your left foot. Keep your back knee off the ground.
Next, lift your left hand and rotate to the left, reaching up toward the ceiling. Bring your hand back down and drop your back knee to the ground. Straighten your left knee as you do so, leaning forward to stretch your hamstring. Return to the standing position and repeat on the other side.
Whether you do strength training, weight training, cardio, or low-impact workouts, it’s essential to engage in a full body warm-up routine before you head into your actual exercise. Warming ensures that your joints are prepared for demanding movements, reducing your risk of injury and making your workout more effective.