A Great Workout Warm-up

Try this excellent warm-up to prepare your body and your mind for a good workout

Credit: Curb Ivanic

A good warm-up involves moving the joints in addition to getting the heart rate up

A proper warm-up is an essential part of your workout

Gone are the days where jumping on a treadmill or stationary bike for a few minutes qualifies as a warm-up.

Current exercise science tells us that a warm-up involves more than just getting the heart rate higher and elevating your body temperature. You also want to mobilize the joints through a healthy range of motion; activate the neuromuscular system and mentally prepare your body for training.

Purpose of a Warm-up

  1. Increase blood flow to the working muscles.
  2. Mobilize the joints.
  3. Release synovial fluid in the joints to lubricate them.
  4. Coordinate the nervous system and muscles to work well together.
  5. Increase body temperature.
  6. Get focused mentally.

Don’t Do This in Your Warm-up

Don’t static stretch before you work out or play a sport unless you’ve been specifically instructed to do so by your therapist or doctor. Static stretching (holding a stretch for an extended period) doesn’t prevent injuries and it fact may make you weaker and less powerful.

Don’t spend a lot of time doing aerobic work (running on a treadmill, riding a bike, etc). A few minutes (3-5 minutes) is okay but don’t bother with an extended aerobic warm-up. Do the aerobic work first and then go through a warm-up like the one described below.

Don’t spend a long time warming up; 10-15 minutes is enough.

A Good Warm-up Example

Here’s a warm-up similar to one I do before a workout. Photos of each of the movements follow the descriptions.

1. Forward and sideways leg swings. Keep your spine tall and stable, use the hip and leg muscles to swing the leg. Perform 10-15 per side of each version.

2. Single leg hip pulls. Balance on one leg, lift one leg out to the side bending the knee as you do so and then swing the leg across the body and give a slight pull. Perform 5-10 per side.

3. Tip-toe squats. From a standing position, lift your arms overhead and stand up onto the balls of your feet. Then, lower the heels and drop into a squat, lowering the arms in front of you. Stand back up and repeat 5-10 times.

4. Seated running arms. Sit on the floor with your legs extended and upper body held tall. Pump the arms like you’re sprinting for 20 seconds.

5. Spiderclimb (advanced version add rotation). Start in a pushup position, then step forward with one foot, stepping to the outside of your hand. Keep your back leg extended and your forward foot flat on the floor. Step back and repeat on other side. For a more advanced version, rotate the upper body towards the forward leg as pictured below. Alternate sides. Repeat either version for 10 repetitions (5 each side).

6. Forward lunge with rotation. From a standing position, step forward into a lunge. As you drop down into the lunge, lift the arm on the same side as the rear leg and turn your torso toward the forward leg. Rotate back to centre and step back. Then step forward with the other leg and repeat on the opposite side. Perform 10 times (5 each side).

7. High knees. Running in place or moving forward, run with an exaggerated stride by bringing your knees up to level with your hips. Take short quick steps and perform for 20 seconds.

8. Butt kicks. Running in place or moving forward, run with an exaggerated stride by bringing your heels up so they touch your butt. Take short quick steps and perform for 20 seconds.

Warm-up Exercise Images

Forward leg swing 1

Forward leg swing 2

Sideways leg swing 1

Sideways leg swing 2

Hip Swing 1

Hip Swing 2

Tip Toe Squat 1

Tip Toe Squat 2

Seated Running Arms


Spiderclimb with rotation


Lunge with rotation 1

Lunge with rotation 2

High Knees

Butt Kicks