It is innate human nature to strive for perfection, isn’t it?
We are constantly trying to better ourselves in any and every way possible. In order to remain fit and at the top of our form, we exercise.
Exercising helps to lose weight, build up muscles and makes us feel good and exhilarated.
This article talks about the best warm-up exercises and how to perform them.
If the goal in your mind looks good and you feel fit and energized, it cannot be attained if you are lying down on your bed with a pulled muscle.
If you go into a gym and immediately start working out with heavy weights, it is quite likely that you will end up hurting yourself.
What, that’s exactly what you plan? That could result in injuries that would make you miss out several days or weeks of your workout.
In this article, you will learn about a key factor that will make you less susceptible to injuries and will take you a step closer to achieving the goal of a fitter and better you!
You must know the importance of warming up before getting down to your workout routine. Along with best warm-up exercises for maximum muscle growth, you need a good fitness plan which you can follow to get your body in your desired shape.
You will also get to learn a few warm-up techniques which will help you in achieving your fitness goals.
Table Of Contents
Why Should You Warm Up?
The very first thing to do when you start your workout for maximum muscle growth is to warm up. Never done it before?
At this moment, you'd be having doubts about the priority and emphasis that is being placed on warming up before doing anything else. Let's remove those doubts of yours.
Let's think of your body muscles as elastic rubber bands. If you pull on them suddenly and with too much force, then the rubber bands will snap immediately and become damaged, or even break.
But if you stretch the rubber bands out nice and slow, they can be extended much better. Now imagine yourself as the rubber band.
If you work in an office and spend all of your day behind a desk, you don’t get much use out of these muscles. Your muscles are tight and constricted.
If you hit the gym, and start lifting some very heavy weights or start doing some other exercise very rapidly, it is very likely that, just like the rubber bands, your muscles will snap since they have not been in much use.
This is something which you don't want to happen, do you? The next thing that your mind goes to is regular stretching.
You must be wondering, isn’t stretching good enough? It is a good way of warming up, but it has a flaw.
Stretching can actually overextend your muscles, and you don't have the necessary strength left in them for the actual workout.
For this very reason, static warm-ups are not favored. What should you do for the warm-up then?
You need to learn some good warm up exercises and apply them in a way that will loosen your muscles and make them ready for action. Doing this will keep you both strong and free from injuries.
It will also activate your CNS, and get your muscles in shape for an amazing workout. Warming up will increase your blood circulation as well, and it will, in turn, help you have a better performance in the workout.
When your body is perfectly warmed up, you have the maximum flexibility that is required to do many of the exercises without the added risk of injuring yourself.
How Long Should A Warmup Last?
After long debates on the pros and cons of warming up before the actual workout, experts drew the conclusion that a good warm-up improves performance in sports and reduces the risks of injuries as well.
The important question that comes to mind after establishing the importance and essentiality of a warm-up is the duration of it.
How long should a warm up last? There are different viewpoints of experts on the duration and the intensity of a perfect warm-up.
Athletes and sportsmen make use of warm-ups to protect their bodies from injuries and to get the body ready for intense exercise.
Research shows that biochemical changes occur in the body after brief periods of exercise or activity which activates the muscles. The key is in finding the perfect length and intensity of a warm-up that suits the person’s needs.
There are certain exercises which get better results as compared to others. Research shows that warm-ups which are short in duration and intense tend to give out better results when compared to long, strenuous warm-up exercises.
The research was done on cyclists, and their warm-up techniques before the cycling event actually began.
The data collected showed that if the athletes opted for a shorter one, their muscles were less subjected to fatigue as compared to the ones who opted for a long, intense warm-up.
The goal is the promotion of post-activation potential and reducing the muscle fatigue as much as possible. This is achieved with shorter warm-ups.
So, what IS the ideal length? The length of an ideal warm-up still depends on the athlete and the type of activity which is to follow. Athletes should experiment on their own until they find the perfect warm-up exercises for them.
4 Steps to An Ideal Warm-up
Now that you know the importance of a workout and the ideal time that should be allocated for a warm-up, let us move towards the next step which is figuring out how to begin one and what to do.
The most popular warm-up approach, as propagated by fitness gurus, is the dynamic warm-up.
In this approach, all the joints of the body are moved one at a time, then all of them at the same time, which loosens and stretches the human body muscles in a progressive way. These include:
- Walking Lunges
- Toe Touches
- High Knees
There are differences in warm-up techniques according to the requirements. For example, a marathon runner's pre-workout routine and a warm up before lifting would differ of course, but there are certain similarities between them.
The dynamic warm-up should be done before a workout; whereas, static stretching should be done after the workout when your body is cooling down.
Here are a few steps that should be in your mind while choosing the perfect warm-up regimen for yourself.
1. Loosen Up Your Muscles
You should prepare your body for the exercise you’re going to do later using mobility movements. Start out with rolling your back, then your legs, and your hip flexors to warm up your joints and muscles.
2. Increase Your Heart Beat
Do light activities like jogging or riding a bike slowly, to get your heart beating. Increased heart rate will warm up your muscles and will turn on your CNS. Choose a light activity for this.
3. Dynamic Stretching
You should be focused on not holding apposition for a long time; rather it should be all about movement. This is what dynamic stretching is. Touch your toes and back, circle your arms around, etc.
4. Practice for What’s to Come
Do warm-up exercises according to the type of activity planned ahead for the day.
Keep the intensity low, but get your body in tune for what is coming next. This will help with your muscle memory and will prepare your body for the actual workout.
Best Warm Exercises for Muscular Growth
How much you get out of your workout depends on your pre-workout routine. There are several benefits of a warm-up, a few of which have been discussed above. A good warm-up can help with relieving pains and aches in your body too.
You should have such a routine which will prime your body for the workout that is to follow.
Following are some warm-up moves that will teach you how to warm up and will get your body in shape for the muscle-building workout you are going to do.
1. Foam Roll
Foam roll helps in reducing the effect of delayed onset muscle soreness. If you combine foam rolling with static stretching, you will be able to improve the range of motion of your hips.
Roll out your calves, quads, and upper back before your workout to get the best results.
2. Jumping Jacks
By doing jumping jacks, you will be able to loosen your muscles and get your metabolism up and running at the same time.
This exercise also helps with the circulation of blood, making you feel more exhilarated and full of energy.
- Take your arms above your head and jump with your feet apart.
- Do this at least 10 times.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Our hip flexors become tight due to sitting for quite some time. Hip flexor stretches will help in repositioning your pelvis, and this will, in turn, keep your hamstrings from being strained.
- Get yourself on one knee, keeping your foot on the top of a bench, preferably behind you.
- Squeeze the muscle/glute of your rear leg and then push your hips forward.
- Do this again by switching sides.
4. Knee Lifts
- Bring your knee upwards slowly while walking.
- Switch your knee and add a little variation such as a spinal twist along as well.
- Repeat this at least 10 times.
5. Child’s Pose Breathing
If you do breathing drills, you will be able to breathe in from your diaphragm and not your chest.
This will also relax the muscles around your neck and chest, as well as your lower back. Your range of motion at your shoulders is increased with this exercise.
- To do this, get in the form of a child's pose and inhale through your nose while rounding your spine.
- Your focus should be on pushing your belly into your thighs.
- Exhale and repeat.
6. Core Rotation
This warm-up exercise will get your body ready for the workout that’s to come, effectively.
- Keep your feet a hip’s length apart. Extend your arms in front of you.
- Rotate your upper body towards the right, keeping your core engaged.
- Reverse your direction and repeat at least 10 times.
7. Hip Bridge
If your glutes are fired up, your hamstrings and lower back will not have to do most of the work in the heavy muscle workout you will do later. The hip bridge makes the glutes more powerful and capable of lifting more weight.
- Get your knees into a 90-degree angle position while lying on your back.
- Squeeze your glutes and finally, lift your hips.
- Don't use your lower back in this exercise.
Do dynamic stretches such as kicking your legs forward, touching your toes, etc. while making sure you do not hold on to any single position.
9. Box Jumps
Your muscle fibers and CNS will be rejuvenated with this exercise.
- Keep your knees soft and face a tall box.
- Sit in a backward pose and then jump on to the box. Try to land in the same position you jumped from.
- Step down slowly from the box. Repeat a few times.
10. Slow Motion Mountain Climber
- Start in the position of a push-up.
- Bring your right knee to your shoulder.
- Keep this position for a while and then move the left leg.
- Keep alternating and do this at least 10 times.
11. Wall Slides
- Stand facing a wall.
- Press your forearms against the wall.
- Next slide your forearms up and down the wall, while pushing your lower back into the wall at the same time.
This helps warm up your hamstrings. Move your legs outwards one at a time in the backward direction as well.
12. Butt Kicks
- Start to walk slowly.
- Raise your leg, one at a time, in the backward direction in such a way that it seems you are going to kick yourself in the butt.
This exercise will help in stretching out your quadriceps.
13. Spiderman Lunge with Overhead Reach
This warm up exercise increases the capability of your hips and thoracic spine to become more mobile.
- Take a lunge in the forward direction with the help of your left leg, at an angle of 30-degrees.
- Keeping your elbows locked, put your hands on the ground.
- Squeeze the muscle of your leg and with your hand, reach up towards the sky, keeping your eye on the hand. Reverse and repeat.
14. Bear Crawl
Your core stability increases exceptionally well due to this exercise.
- Get down on your knees, keeping your hands on the ground under your shoulders.
- Move forward with your left arm and right leg. Switch and repeat.
15. Turkish Getup
This is a full body warm-up and is considered to the best. It helps with movement and stability.
- Bend your right knee, and lie on the ground, keeping your right foot flat.
- Hold a weight in your right arm and keep it above yourself.
- Keep the left arm and leg at your sides. Shift your weight onto your left elbow. After this, keep the left arm straight.
- Push your right leg muscle and keep your hips in a straight position.
- Now rest yourself on the knees. Stand upright, taking a lunge. Repeat on both the sides.
We have discussed the importance of a warm-up before the actual workout and also given you a few exercises which are considered to be the best warm up exercises that you can do.
Keep track of your results, and try to improve consistently.