Last week I wrote a post about why you should warm up and thought I’d give you a few tips this week about what you can do to make sure you’ve thoroughly warmed up before your workout.
So, as I mentioned briefly last week, warm ups will be different for everyone. While one person may feel totally ready to workout after five minutes, another may need to take ten minutes. The most important thing is to make sure you feel totally warm and that your joints and muscles are prepared for the workout.
There are four sections to a thorough warm up – Mobility, CV machine, preparatory stretches and pulse raiser:
It’s best to start your warm up with a few mobility exercises, working from your head down to your toes. These prepare your joints for the CV warm up (which is the next step).
For each mobility exercise it’s best to do 8 of them, so if you’re taking it in turns to do the right then left, make sure you do eight for each side.
Do the ‘yes’ movement, being careful not to let your head go further back than the neutral position at the top (so not dropping your head back). You can also do the ‘no’ movement, so head turns, right to left, and head tilts to the sides too. With the head tilts there’s no competition to get your ear super close to your shoulder, it’s just to warm up your neck.
This can be done with some shoulder rolls, forward and back, and then you can bring your arms into play too, doing shoulder rolls with the arms extended straight, so you’re taking your arms up and over in a circle motion.
Something I like to do is to twist gently to the right and then left (while standing), being careful not to over-twist and injure yourself. The whole point of warming up is just to prepare your body for the workout…not to push it hard.
- Hips and knees
I don’t fancy doing hip rotations or pelvic thrust style movements in a busy gym as I usually end up getting eye contact with someone unintentionally and feeling super awkward, so instead I do something called ‘opening the gates’, and of course, ‘closing the gates’.
To do these, you stand up straight (holding on to something if you need to, as you’ll be on one leg for a while). You bring your right leg up in front of you, knee bent and then, keeping the 90 degree angle, you take the right leg out towards the side of your body and then lower your foot onto the floor. You repeat this eight times with the right leg, before moving onto the left leg. That’s ‘opening the gate’.
To ‘close the gate’ you simply reverse the movement, so you start with your leg out by the side of you, with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle, and bring it round to the front.
For this one it’s a good idea to hold onto something or lean on a wall again so you can balance. Simply lift your right leg off the floor and slightly out in front of you with a straight leg, then point your toes and flex them to warm up your ankles. Then repeat on the left leg.
These mobility exercises might look time consuming, but once you’ve done them a few times you’ll easily be able to remember what to do and they’ll hardly take any time at all.
Then it’s time to do 5-10 minutes on a CV machine at a light pace, gradually working your way up so you’re feeling nice and warm, but not sweating. If you’re sweating then you’ve gone too hard too soon, so take it down a notch.
I love the rowing machine or treadmill for a warm up, but you can use any of the CV machines.
After that, it’s important to get your muscles fully ready for the workout now they’re nice and warm from the CV, so do a few stretches for the muscle groups you’re about to train.
As your body temperature may have dropped a little during the stretches, just do ten seconds of a simple thing like jumping jacks or high knees to get your body temperature back up to where it was after the CV part of the warm up. If you still feel nice and warm then this part isn’t necessary though.
Now you’re ready to workout!
I hope this post has helped if you weren’t sure how to warm up properly in the gym. I’m going to be putting together some more tutorial posts (with mini videos, as I’ve realised it’s crazy hard to explain what to do in writing), so if there are any gym exercises you’d like me to include please let me know.
And, as always, please ask if you have any questions.
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