5 of the Easiest Warm-Up Exercises You Should Try
Before you start your 5-mile run, it’s vital to warm up your joints and muscles to prepare your body. If you skip your warm-up, you could be risking major injury from the pulling, pushing, and stretching your muscles will undergo. Even when you’re pinched for time and you’re only looking to do a quick workout, taking a few minutes to warm up is something that you can’t afford to skip. The perfect warm-up is anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes, and it should include exercises that work all major muscle groups you’ll be using while slowly raising your heart rate. Before you jump into your next routine, here are five easy warm-up exercises that will get you ready for your most intense workouts.
1. Jumping rope
The versatile jump rope is the perfect tool for warming up. While you can effectively use it for an entire cardio routine, the tool also gets your body warmed and prepped for more intense cardio and strength training later on, making it perfect for gym-goers who want something quick and easy.
The Huffington Post explains the jump rope requires coordination, agility, balance, and bone strength to keep you moving. This means major muscle groups like your core, legs, and back are all working in unison to keep you hopping over that rope. You’ll get an awesome cardiovascular warm-up with your jump rope, too, as the combination of strength training and cardio will get your heart rate rising fast.
Before using your jump rope as a warm-up tool, make sure it’s the right size. The handles of the rope should reach your armpits when you hold the rope to the ground under one foot. And don’t forget proper form, either — hold your hands at waist-height, and rotate the rope using your wrists. This simple motion will prep your arms and back for a killer strength routine, too.
2. Lunges and twists
You may already have weighted lunges in your workout routine, but that doesn’t mean you can skip bodyweight lunges during your warm-up. STACK explains lunges are a great way to warm up your legs, hips, inner thighs and core. From here, you can add in a twist with your upper body to further prepare the mid to lower back. If you play sports and you perform a lot of lateral movements, this exercise will be particularly useful for you.
You can grab a medicine ball to perform this warm-up, or you can skip the extra weight. To start, try performing a side lunge to the right, twisting your midsection to the right side as you lunge. Bring your feet back together, and repeat on the opposite side. To add in the medicine ball, extend your arms and hold the ball at chest level, and twist while holding the ball. Make sure you’re using a lighter weight for this warm-up exercise.
3. Arm and leg swings
Dynamic stretching is key in your warm-up, Greatist says. While static stretching can actually hurt your muscles when you’re not warm, dynamic stretching, or continuously moving at the muscles as you’re stretching, is shown to increase flexibility and performance.
Swinging your arms and legs is a great way to get them warm and ready for your workout. If you’re wondering what an arm swing would look like, think arm circles — keeping your arms extended out to your sides, make small, circular movements from the shoulders to warm the shoulders, triceps, and biceps. When your arms are feeling warm, swing them down and across the body, warming through your core.
For leg swings, try kicking your leg forward and then allowing it to swing all the way back, repeating reps on each leg. Not only will you be preparing your legs for physical activity, but you’ll also be using your core to balance and stabilize as you’re swinging. You can also perform cross-leg swings, where you raise one straightened leg to the side and swing it across the body over the opposite leg.
4. Jumping jacks
This simple exercise may bring you back to those days in your high school gym class, but don’t knock it just because it’s simple. Jumping jacks are one of the most effective warm-up exercises because they get your heart pumping while helping to loosen up muscles in the legs, torso, and arms. After just a minute or two of these, you’ll be ready to begin your workout.
New York Road Runners explains a proper jumping jack is performed by slightly bending the knees and extending both legs out to the sides while the arms, which are also fully extended, reach out to the sides and above the head. To get the most out of your jumping jacks, go for explosive movements, with legs really extending and arms reaching out and up. If you have knee pain, you can step instead of jumping.
If you’re tired of the average jumping jack, you can try jumping trunk twists for a warm-up through the core. You’ll start with feet close together, and as you jump, you’ll rotate your lower body to the left and your upper body to the right. On your next hop, rotate your lower body to the right and upper body to the left, and repeat quickly, using small hops to propel your lower body in different directions. Moving your arms in the same direction as your upper body will help turn it in the right direction.
5. Hip raise with arm reach
This warm-up from Men’s Health requires that you start on your back, and it’s perfect for warming the glutes, hamstrings, and the center of your back. It’s particulalry great for those sensitive to knee pressure. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Your feet should be flat on the ground,shoulder-width apart, and your arms should be about 45-degrees to your sides with palms up. From this starting position, raise your hips slowly until your body is one flat plane. Lift your right arm and shoulder from the floor and reach across your chest, tapping the floor behind your left shoulder. Lower your hips down and bring your arm to its starting position, then repeat on the other side.
Go at the pace you would like for this exercise, but remember to keep it moving. Dynamic stretching is better than holding your stretch when you’re warming up, so remember to lower your hips and raise them again for each arm reach.