Be honest now, how many times do you skip a warm up?
We’ve all been guilty of it.
You haven’t got very long. You’ve got enough time to get in a quick workout before your kids start harassing you again, and you’ve got to get dinner on soon. So you save some time. You skip the warm up and go straight to your actual workout.
It’s tempting. It really is.
But, and I think you know what’s coming, it’s a mistake.
Warm ups are really important, especially when you’re doing a high-intensity workout, like a HIIT session. But, I’ll get into that in a second.
One thing I will tell you now, they don’t have to be boring.
You can make them fun. You can make them as appealing as your actual workout.
In fact, I’m going to lead a charge against boring warm ups, let’s start making them so much fun that you’ll actually want to do them.
Are you with me?…
Ok, so before we get to the fun part, let’s talk about the why?
Now I could explain here that warm ups increase your blood flow, your body temperature, your heart rate, activate your central nervous system. They reduce your risk of injury.
They do. All of that. But I think there’s a more important reason to warm up. One that you can relate to a bit more.
Your warm up helps you get more out of your workout.
Let me explain…
You know what it’s like when you first get out of bed, you’re a bit stiff, your muscles are a bit tight. It takes a while, doesn’t it, to feel a bit more limber. Before we can move a bit freer.
Now imagine doing a high-intensity interval training workout, feeling that stiff.
I know this is a bit on the extreme side, you wouldn’t do a workout a soon as you got out of bed, but to your muscles, if you haven’t prepared them properly, it’s pretty much the same thing.
So, imagine trying to do that workout when you’ve got that just out of bed stiff body feeling.
Can you squat properly? Can you lunge properly? Can you move properly, do the exercises with good form? Or, is your technique suffering because your range of motion isn’t great?
I think I know.
Working out with cold muscles is the worst thing you can do. Yes, it’s going to increase your injury risk, but it also means you won’t be pushing yourself as much as you could. You won’t be physically able to.
And we all know giving maximum effort when we’re HIIT training is the secret to success. It’s the secret to soaking up all of those lovely benefits of HIIT.
Your warm up helps to loosen up your muscles. It gets them moving a bit freer. It gets your body a bit more limber. And all of that means, you can workout that bit harder.
You can push yourself a bit more.
You can make the most of the time you’ve got to workout by giving it all you’ve got.
And, surely that’s got to be worth it.
I promise, not long before we get to the fun part, but first, here are some tips to make sure any warm up you do hits the mark.
Starting any warm up with a bit of foam rolling, if you’ve got the time, is a great way to get your body into exercise mode.
Most of us think about using a foam roller after a workout, but, it can be used beforehand as well. It will increase the elasticity of your muscle tissue, your range of motion and circulation. And all of this helps injury prevention.
Focus on dynamic stretches during your warm up. They’re the stretches you do moving. Static stretching, the stretches that you hold, actually have a relaxation effect on the muscles so they can impede your workout performance.
Concentrate on dynamic stretches for your warm up and save static stretches for your cool down.
Yes you might be doing a lower body workout, or an upper body workout, but when you’re warming up, warm up your whole body.
Dynamic stretches help to improve your range of motion so it won’t be wasted I promise.
Remember the purpose of a warm up is to prepare your body for your workout.
Yes, you need to prepare your muscles, but you also need to prepare your cardiovascular system as well. Slowly increasing your heart rate, your blood flow and your core temperature.
This is where we get into preparing for your actual workout. This doesn’t have to be difficult. Just a few light weight, high speed movements that will be included in your workout. It will help with muscle activation.
For example, if you’re doing a kettlebell swing workout, include a few light weight swings in your warm up. If you’re going to be doing squats, yep you’ve guessed it, a few high speed body weight squats.
Whatever movement you’re going to be doing include a few in your warm up.
I like to start every warm up with dynamic movement that works all of my body. All of the main muscle groups. I start at the top of my body and work my way down.
So, in the start position, standing with your feet hip-width apart…
Circle your head one way 5-10 times and then repeat in the other direction.
You can do these with single arms, both arms at the same time, or if you want to get your brain firing as well, both arms moving in different directions. Or, all of the above if your shoulders are feeling tight. Hit 10-15 reps on your right arm and your left arm, in both directions.
Twist just your upper body to the right side, and then to the left side. Make sure your hips are facing forwards. I like to put one arm on top of the other in front of me, but you don’t have to. You can leave them hanging loosely by your side. The important thing is to keep your hips facing forward.
Hip circles are great for hip mobility. If you’re not sure what I mean, with your hands on your hips, move your hips to one side, then back, then the other side and then to the front. Repeat quite quickly in a circle like motion. Do 10-15 and then change direction.
These are muscles we could all do with stretching a bit more. Start with your right leg, circle your leg in and then out, repeat 10-15 times and switch legs.
If you think your hip flexors could do with more stretching, a few slower pace lunges will do the trick. Take your left foot out in front bend both knees until your right knee hovers just above the floor and then return to the starting position.
Leg swings, swing your left leg up in front of you, getting progressively higher as you do more reps and then repeat on your right leg. You should be aiming for the back of the legs to be a least parallel to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times and then switch sides.
Deep squats, and I’m talking deep. Go as far down as you can, arse to grass as the saying goes. 8-10 reps. You might want to hang out at the bottom of your squat and move around a bit. It really hits the hip flexors as well as your glutes.
Ok, Let’s have some fun with our cardio warm-up routine.
The world is your oyster when it comes to warm-up exercises. You could go traditional and do some jumping jacks, a few squat jumps, reverse lunges or some sumo squats. Something along those lines.
Or, you could make it a game...like tag, or dancing.
I’ve got 3 game type warm ups for you to choose from, you don’t need to do all three. Although you may want to.
Each takes 5 minutes. Combine them with the dynamic routine I’ve just gone through, and you’ll have a 10 minute warm up that will have you ready and raring to go for the main event.
You could also use these to get you ready and raring to go for your day. That’s just as much of a workout I bet.
Anyway, let’s get to it…
You’ll need a balloon for this warm up. It is silly and should get you laughing. Also a great game to play with the kids if they’re bored on a rainy day.
If you enjoy this one you can increase the intervals, maybe 45 secs on 15 seconds rest.
I love taking old classics and making them into a workout. There’s so much scope for kids getting involved and for them seeing that exercising, working out doesn’t have to be a boring chore. It can be fun.
Your warm up is to get all of your equipment ready and in the place you’ll be working out.
If you’re equipment is stored far away concentrate on walking or running. But, if it’s stored in the same room, try duck walking, lunging, frog hopping etc etc.
I hope these give you some ideas for making your warm up fun.
They don’t have to be just about cranking out the reps of a movement.
They can be about giggles and laughing. And if they are, you’ll be more likely to do them.
What’s your favourite way of warming up? I’d love to know...
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