How to do Warm Up Before Exercise

Whether you are a novice or an expert in exercising, it is essential to warm up and stretch before you exercise.

Warming up is necessary as it helps to prepare your body for exercises by increasing your heart rate and improving blood circulation. It even prepares you mentally for your workout.

To help understand the importance of warm up, simply compare your body to driving a car in freezing cold weather.

In winter days, you allow your car to warm up a bit before driving. Similarly, you need to prepare your body physically by gradually increasing your body temperature to meet the demands of a strenuous exercise session.

Just like warm up, stretching is also important for an optimal workout. By doing stretching exercises, you especially give stress on stretching your muscles. This helps reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness and the risk of injury.

According to a 2007 study published in the journal Sports Medicine, stretching and warm up exercises before workout help prevent injuries.

Basic Pre-Exercise Warm-Up Routine

Here is a basic warm-up routine you can follow before a workout session. Your basic warm-up should last between 5 and 10 minutes.

1. Jogging

  1. Stand upright with your back tall.
  2. Jog in place for 60 seconds.

2. Marching

  1. Stand upright and march in place 20 to 30 times. Move your arms up and down in conjunction with your leg movements. Do not tighten your fists.
  2. Go, march forward and backward 20 to 30 times.
  3. Do this for 60 seconds.

3. Back-Kicking Exercise

  1. Stand with your legs slightly apart.
  2. Begin rocking side to side, as you lift each leg in the air so your heel goes back, as if to tap your buttock. You can fold your arms at the elbows and level them with your waist at this point.
  3. Do this in quick succession for 60 seconds.

4. Hands-in-the-Air Exercise

  1. Stand with your legs slightly apart.
  2. Raise your arms straight above your head.
  3. Begin rocking to your side, as you take your right leg far behind your left leg in a cross while simultaneously throwing both your arms far behind your back.
  4. Return to the standing position with your arms raised above your head again.
  5. Cross your leg left behind your right leg as you throw your arms back again.
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 in quick succession for 60 seconds.

5. Front-Kicking Exercise

  1. Stand upright and bring your arms to the boxing position – elbows bent, palms rolled into fists and fists pointing upward.
  2. Throw each leg straight out in front of you in quick successive kicks.
  3. Do this for 60 seconds.

6. Foot-Touching Exercise

  1. Stand upright with your legs apart.
  2. Bend down and cross your right arm over your body to touch your left toe.
  3. Repeat step 2, but touch your right toe with your left hand.
  4. Do these steps in quick succession for 60 seconds.

7. Knee-Lifting Exercise

  1. Stand upright, suck your stomach in and keep your back straight.
  2. Lift one leg up in the air with your knee bent.
  3. Bring the opposite hand in front of you to touch the raised knee, then bring your leg back down.
  4. Raise the other leg and touch the raised knee with the opposite hand.
  5. Repeat these steps in quick succession for 60 seconds.

8. Knee-Bending Exercise

  1. Stand with your feet and legs slightly apart.
  2. Throw your hands straight out in front of you.
  3. Bend your knees (about 10 cm) and stick your buttocks out.
  4. Stand up straight again.
  5. Repeat these steps in quick succession for 60 seconds.

9. Shoulder-Rotating Exercise

  1. Stand upright and begin marching in place.
  2. As you march, let your arms hang loose at your sides and begin rolling your shoulders forward.
  3. Do this 10 times, then reverse and start rolling your shoulders backward.
  4. Repeat the forward and backward shoulder rolling in quick succession for 60 seconds.

Stretching Routine

Here is a stretching routine you can perform after the basic warm-up and before your workout session. Your stretching routine should last between 5 and 10 minutes.

1. Arm-Rolling Exercise

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Extend your arms out to your sides, keeping them long and flexed, and move them in circles counter-clockwise for 60 seconds. Consciously push your shoulder blades together as you do this. You should feel the stretch in your upper arms.

2. Arm Stretch-and-Pull Exercise

  1. Stand upright with your legs slightly apart.
  2. Stretch your right arm across the breadth of your chest and bring it to the opposite side.
  3. With your left hand placed in front of the lower portion of your right arm, pull your right arm toward the back.
  4. Repeat with the other arm and continue for 60 seconds, alternating your arms in quick succession.

3. Full Back-Pull Exercise

  1. Stand upright with your legs slightly apart.
  2. Extend both your arms behind your back, interlock your fingers and stretch your arms.
  3. Do this for 60 seconds. You can relax your arms after 30 seconds if you feel tired.

4. Arm, Leg and Torso Stretch

  1. Stand with your legs wide apart in a “V”.
  2. Bend your knees and stretch your right arm over your head as your bend your torso to your left side.
  3. Switch arms and bend to your right side with your arm stretching over your head.
  4. Repeat these steps for 60 seconds.

6. Ankle-Holding Stretch

  1. Stand upright with your legs far apart in a “V”
  2. Bend down and hold each of your ankles with the palm of your corresponding hand. Make sure you are stretching your legs nicely.
  3. Hold this position for 60 seconds. You can straighten up after 30 seconds and bend down again if you feel tired.

7. Heel-Holding Exercise

  1. Stand upright, lift your right leg behind your buttock, and hold your heel with both hands for support.
  2. Maintain this position for 20 seconds before switching legs and repeating the exercise.
  3. Do this exercise for a total of 80 seconds, twice with each leg.

8. Back and Leg Stretch

  1. Sit with both legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Bring your right leg up toward your chest, cross it over your left knee, and place your right sole on the ground beside your left knee.
  3. Bend forward, hold your left foot with both hands, and bend your head.
  4. Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat the exercise for the next 30 seconds.

You can perform all these exercises or choose from the mix those that suit you best and design your own customized warm-up routine. Make sure you are choosing exercises that equally flex your arms, legs and torso.

If you are working out to tone a specific body part, you can move on to a more specific warm-up with the guidance of your instructor after these two routines, or you can simply proceed to working out.


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