It’s arguably the most important part of your workout, and you’re probably doing it wrong.
Whether you’re new to exercise or not, including a proper warm-up in your routine can greatly improve your training and allow better and faster progress toward your fitness goals. Your warm-up should be like a rehearsal for your workout, preparing your muscles, joints and central nervous system for exercise. Think of it like putting oil on a tight screw to help loosen it up.
The purpose of a warm-up is to increase blood flow to the working muscles, increase flexibility and range of motion, and prepare the body for activity while reducing the risk of injury. Five minutes on a treadmill or an elliptical isn’t going to cut it. It should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Start by using a foam roller to reduce tension, especially in tight areas such as the hamstrings and IT band. Spend about five minutes massaging both your upper- and lower-body muscles.
Next, move on to dynamic movements that will not only pump blood through your working muscles but also increase the range of motion through your joints. This activity should include movement through multiple planes (front, side and rotational), as well as the upper and lower body. It’s important to do dynamic movements instead of holding static stretches because your body isn’t warm yet, and stretching tight muscles increases risk of injury. Here are some good warm-up exercises to get you started:
1 Spinal twist: Lie on the floor with your right leg bent and your right foot at your left knee. Place your left hand to your right knee and gently guide the knee towards the floor, as you reach your right arm away from you, placing it on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on your left side.
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