Workout Warm-Ups

Coach Rachael, MS, BS, ACSM, NASM

Rachael Meyer is a military spouse and mom of two boys. She earned her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and her master’s degree in health promotion and exercise science. She is certified by both the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer. Rachael thrives on pursuing her passion for helping women reach their wellness goals.
Workout warm-up

I’ll never forget my early athletic days when I absolutely dreaded the warm-up portion of practice. After surviving an incredibly long and exhausting day at school, being directed to run around the hockey field in 98-degree temperatures was so annoying! I remember thinking, we are going to be running around doing drills anyway. Why do we need to induce extra sweat and expend extra energy and basically, workout before we workout?

Am I right!?

Well… I’ll also never forget that time I was late to practice and ignored my coach’s instruction to do the warm-up exercises and jog that dreadful lap before jumping into practice drills. That choice not only landed me on the sidelines for the remainder of practice with a sprained ankle but forced me to overcome an injury for the next several weeks.

So, lesson learned – investing a little time warming up prior to working out would very likely have prevented that injury. I carry that Aha moment with me each and every time I want to jump right into my workout without a proper warm-up.

Let’s talk about why a warm-up is such a critical component of a workout. 

  • Warm-up exercises help increase temperature and blood flow to your muscles, so they can work efficiently.
  • A solid warm-up provides a slow, progressive increase in workload on the heart, and is much easier for your body to manage than going from zero to hero in a short amount of time.
  • Taking time to prepare your body for exercise helps prevent potential injury.

Ready to Run Warm-Up

If you are pursuing a long-distance run or Couch-to-5K-type cardio session, a fast-paced walk or steady, light jog is a great way to increase your heart rate, focus on your breathing, and get your muscles and joints working in tandem before you begin increasing your pace.

Here are a few dynamic warm-up exercises with stretching you can do prior to your run!

Dynamic Side Lunge 

Take a big step to the right, with a bent knee, shift your weight over to your right foot, hold for 5 seconds and switch sides using a slow and controlled movement.Side lunge warm-up

Dynamic Side Leg Swing

Position your left hand on a wall, keeping your right leg straight, extend and swing it across the front of your body, and back out to the side. Complete 10 repetitions and switch sides.Leg swing warm-up

Dynamic Single leg deadlift 

Stand on your left leg with knee slightly bent, arms extended, slowly move forward aiming for your torso and right leg to be parallel to the floor, hold for 5 seconds, slowly return the foot to floor and switch sides.Deadlift warm-up

Weight Lifting Warm-Up

Weight lifting warm-ups should be based on the muscles you will be working through your strength training session. The best way to hit these muscle groups (and supporting muscles) is to complete a warm-up round of the exercises you’ll be doing for that particular workout. You’ll want to complete your warm-up reps slow and controlled and with a lighter weight than your starting weight for your actual workout.

Circuit Training Full-Body Warm-Up

Full-body circuit training is one of my absolute favorites to teach and to participate in; that said, warming up is a crucial component! It’s important to ensure you’re warming up all muscle groups you will be utilizing during the workout. These are a few exercises I ALWAYS incorporate in a warm-up for a full-body circuit training workout. This will hit the lower body, hips, core, and upper body, and would be a great warm-up to do prior to a no-equipment workout at home.

Complete 3 rounds / 30 seconds each exercise

  • High Knees
  • Squats 
  • Lunges 
  • Mountain Climbers

High knee warm-upSquat warm-upsWarm-up lungesMountain climber warm-upRound 1 – Slow, controlled – count your repetitions (reps)

Round 2 – Quicker, controlled movements – aim to increase your reps by at least 2 on each exercise

Round 3 – Fluid, controlled movements, breathing elevated, increase reps by 2 or more

Afterburn At Home (ABH) Workout Warm-Up

If you don’t currently have the LadyBoss® Pocket Personal Trainer, you’re missing out! The ABH section offers fantastic progressive workouts you can complete in the comfort of your own home – or anywhere, for that matter! I highly encourage checking out the 7-day free trial!

The best way to warm up prior to an ABH workout is to do a warm-up round of all exercises. Decrease the repetitions to half for the warm-up, and complete each rep in a slow and controlled manner. This will get your heart rate elevated, muscles moving, and body prepped for the workout you are about to CRUSH! 

For example:

The workout says: 20 push-ups

The warm-up: 10 push-ups

The workout says: 10 lunges each leg

The warm-up: 5 lunges each leg

Warm-ups before sportsSport-Specific Warm-Up

Preparing to hit the field, range, court, mat or ice? If you’re playing a sport, your warm-up should be tailored very specifically to the particular activity you’re engaged in. For example, a soccer player would not warm up the same way as someone playing golf. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for sport-specific training, but you can still utilize some of the above suggestions for sport-related warm-ups. If you play soccer, you can combine some of the warm-up suggestions for running and circuit training to add to your routine!

Don’t Skip the Warm-up

Generally speaking, the best way to warm up is to complete movements within your workout at a lower intensity and/or with lower resistance. This gets your mind and body prepared for the upcoming workout by increasing heart rate, breathing, and muscle temperature. And it will aid in preventing potential injury.

So the next time you’re tempted to jump right into your workout without a proper warm-up, picture yourself impatiently waiting on the sidelines to get back into your workout game. Instead, take the time to prepare for your workout.



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