The most common reason for exercise injuries is due to the lack of a proper warm-up or stretch. Even if you have a short timeframe to exercise, you should always warm up your muscles to prevent injury. Not only does warming up help your body, but it protects your bones, kick starts your nervous system and boosts your performance.
Whether you are doing yoga, HIIT, running, or swimming, you should never skip a warmup. Warmups and stretching can also improve flexibility, mobility, and strength.
Today you will find out the benefits and dangers of warmups. As well as the best 12 warmups and stretches you should use pre and post-workout:
- Different Types of Warm-ups
- Benefits of Warming Up and Stretching
- 12 Best Warm-up & Stretching Exercises
- 1 – Overhead arm reaches: the best exercise to kickstart energy and muscle warmth
- 2 – Arm Circles: to release tension in your shoulders
- 3 – Hip Rotations: ideal for loosening your lower body
- 4 – Side knee lifts: the best exercise for strengthening your core
- 5 – Squat with arm lift: for an entire body burn
- 6 – Squat with reaches: to fire up your glutes
- 7 – Lunges: to warmup your thighs
- 8 – Push-ups: for an all-over arm burn
- 9 – Plank Walk Outs: to engage your core, hamstrings, and shoulders
- 10 – Jumping Jacks: to increase blood flow and loosen your entire body
- 11 – High Knees: get your blood pumping and activates the muscles
- 12 – Jumping Rope: maximize your heart rate
- How To Cool Down Post Exercise
Different Types of Warm-ups
There are different variations of warmups and stretches. Two types involve actions to increase heart rate and warm up the muscles. Another involves strengthening and stretching your body. The key difference is the energy and time required.
A dynamic warmup should be performed before exercising. The movements involve the area of your body you wish to focus on. These moves are used to improve the flexibility of the muscles and joints and to increase blood flow. Dynamic warmups should build strength and mobility.
Static moves are best used as a post-workout stretch. These actions involve flexing and stretching the muscles. You should typically hold each position to improve strength and loosen the muscles. This will prevent soreness and future injury.
Ballistic warmups involve the highest intensity actions, from bouncing to jerking. The exercises are performed by using the momentum of your limbs to bounce in or out of a position. For example, a jump squat involves a bounce at the end of the exercise to intensify it.
To find out the benefits of these warmups and stretching routines:
Benefits of Warming Up and Stretching
Strength coaches shared in a study that the key benefits and reason for warming up for exercise is to:
- Increase blood flow
- Regulate the nervous system
- Activate the muscles
- Improve mobility
- Prevents injury
- Improves performance
When you increase your body’s temperature, the tissue around your muscles becomes looser. Research states that looser muscles are less likely to be injured.
The key purpose of a warmup is to introduce your body to simple movements before getting into more intense ones. Studies show that activating your muscles will help to specifically target the correct them during exercise. For example, if you activate your glutes through bodyweight squats before exercise, weighted squats will help build muscle during your workout.
There are hundreds of warmup and stretching exercises to choose from for exercise. But, not all are beneficial or accessible to everyone. So, we have created a list of the 12 best practices for everyone to benefit from.
All warm-up and stretching will be useful for any physical exercise.
12 Best Warm-up & Stretching Exercises
Warming up before and stretching appropriately post-workout is the key to preventing injury and getting the most out of your workout. Warmups range from dynamic and ballistic to static. All of which provide many benefits for your entire body.
Today we will cover the 12 best warmup moves, including stretches, for you to use every time you workout.
All warmup and stretches do not require any equipment. So, everyone can enjoy them and reap the benefits.
First, let’s begin with the best stretching warm-ups:
1 – Overhead arm reaches: the best exercise to kickstart energy and muscle warmth
An all-over body warmup is ideal for every type of exercise. Arm reaches fire up all areas of your body, not just your arms.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Swing your left arm overhead to your right side
- Whilst swinging your arm left, twist your torso and pivot your opposite foot inward
- Return back to the first position and repeat on the opposite side
- Repeat each side for 10 reps
2 – Arm Circles: to release tension in your shoulders
Firing up your shoulder muscles is a great way to start any workout. Arm circles are a gentle but effective warmup that can prevent shoulder injuries. They are a great warmup to start your routine with.
- Stand up straight or on your knees with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Circle both arms in a clockwise direction 10 times
- Repeat the process on the opposite side, 10 times each
3 – Hip Rotations: ideal for loosening your lower body
Warming up your hips is an area most people forget about. But, it is an area that needs loosening, as most exercises put a strain on the hips.
- Stand with your feet together and hands on your hips
- Bring your left knee up and outwards to a 90-degree angle
- Rotate your knee in circle motions
- Repeat 10 times on one side then switch to the opposite side
4 – Side knee lifts: the best exercise for strengthening your core
Knee lifts are a great to perform before an abdominal or full-body workout. This action conditions and strengthens your core. It can be performed as both a warmup and abdominal toning exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your head
- Bring your knee left knee up to meet your left elbow to form a crunch position
- Revert to position 1
- Repeat on the opposite side, 10 reps each
5 – Squat with arm lift: for an entire body burn
This action targets your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. They can be done in a variety of ways and can be added to another exercise to form a more intense version. For this variety follow these steps.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and turn your toes outwards
- Bend your knees and lower down as far as comfortable
- Whilst down, drop your arms above your head
- When standing back up, put your arms back down by your sides
- Repeat 10 to 15 times
6 – Squat with reaches: to fire up your glutes
To fire up your glutes, additional squat varieties can be performed. This variety focuses more on the lower body and with the additional hip thrust, it can excel the warmth in your glutes to prepare them for a workout.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and lower into a squat position
- Lower your hands to the floor
- Stand back up and thrust your hips slightly forward
- Raise your hands above your head
- Repeat 10 to 15 times
7 – Lunges: to warmup your thighs
Lunges are a complete lower body exercise that focuses on your thighs and hips. They can also help improve balance. A simple lunge is performed by:
- Start with both feet together and hold your hips
- Send your left leg forward and bend your right knee down to the floor
- Create a 90-degree angle with both legs
- Pause briefly before bringing your left leg back to the right
- Repeat on the other leg and perform 10 reps on each side
8 – Push-ups: for an all-over arm burn
The arm is made up of many muscles. When muscles are connected, it is important to warm them up dynamically. Pushups are a great exercise to target the most prominent arm muscles.
- Get on to the floor in a plank position
- Straighten your arms and legs
- Place your hands shoulder-width apart
- Lower your upper body down until your chest hovers above the floor
- Push back up into the start position
- Repeat 10 times
As well as stretching warmups, there are many beneficial cardiovascular warm-ups:
9 – Plank Walk Outs: to engage your core, hamstrings, and shoulders
Plank walkouts are great for engaging your key muscle groups. This simple cardiovascular exercise will stretch and activate your core, hamstrings, and shoulders. For maximum results and an increased heart rate, your can speed up this exercise.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Place your hands on the floor in front of your feet
- Walk your hands ahead into a plank position
- Hold the plank position for 2 seconds
- Walk your hands back to your feet and return to a standing position
- Repeat 10 times
10 – Jumping Jacks: to increase blood flow and loosen your entire body
Increasing your blood flow is important to get your body ready for exercise. Jumping jacks are a gentle cardiovascular movement that will loosen up your muscles and help warm up your entire body.
- Start in a standing position, feet hip-width apart
- Jump your feet out sideways into a wide stance along with your arms
- Jump straight back into the start position and repeat the process
- Repeat 10 to 15 times
11 – High Knees: get your blood pumping and activates the muscles
High knees are a cardio warmup movement that can get your blood pumping within seconds. It is an exaggerated stationary running movement that activates your muscles from your core to your legs.
- Start by jogging on the spot
- Gradually raise your knees to your chest for each stationary stride
- Repeat the movement for 30 to 60 seconds
12 – Jumping Rope: maximize your heart rate
Jumping rope is a warm-up exercise that is often used to excel heart rate. This can be without equipment. Both will give the same warmup effect.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Skip in position with or without a jump rope
- Involve hands even without the rope
- Repeat the skipping motion for 1 to 2 minutes
Now you have a warm-up routine you can perform before any exercise, let’s get into how to stretch out your muscles after working out:
How To Cool Down Post Exercise
Stretching is just as important pre-exercise as it is post-exercise. Many assume that rest is just as effective as stretching out your muscles, according to research. Yet, science proves that actively cooling down helps to regulate blood flow and gradually recover the muscles. If a person abruptly stops exercising and does not allow blood flow to regulate, the muscles will suffer. This is called delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Studies reveal that aerobic exercises post-exercise will help prevent DOMS and significantly reduce the risk of injury.
To cool down properly, you can use any of the following movements:
- A brisk walk for 5 to 10 minutes
- Forward bends, on your feet or your knee
- Gentle swimming of laps
- Lie down and bring your knees to your chest
- Slow jumping jacks
- Yoga stretches – cat and cow, child’s pose, and downward dog
A combination of at least two of these movements will ensure a full body cool down and stretch to prevent DOMS and the risk of injury from exercise.
For those who have any more concerns, the below answers may justify those queries:
What are the best warmup exercises before running?
Running is an intense cardiovascular activity. So, a more intense warmup should be done before running to ensure a sufficient increase in blood flow, heart rate, and enough movement to loosen the tissue surrounding your muscles. This could be a range of dynamic and ballistic movements from jumping jacks and high knees to squats and lunges.
What is a good 5-minute warmup?
A 5-minute warmup could be a round of 10 moves, all 30 seconds each. Using this guide of the 12 best warmup and stretching exercises, you should be able to fulfill a satisfying 5-minute warmup.
What warmup exercises can I do at home?
All demonstrations provided in this guide can be done at home, and without any equipment.
How can I warm up with cardio?
To increase a warmup you can use both dynamic and ballistic actions. These involve cardio exercise and increase heart rate.
How do you stretch your whole body?
An imbalance of stretching and pre-exercise warmup could result in injury. To prevent this it is advised to stretch your whole body before exercising. Using the combination of the exercises in this guide will ensure a whole-body stretch.
Should I warm up before walking?
Although walking is not an intense cardiovascular workout, warming up the muscles can help prevent injury. It can also make the walk more comfortable and easy on your joints. Lower body strengthening may have more significant benefits as walking involves the thighs, ankles, and hamstrings more than any other muscle.
How long should a warmup last?
This depends on a variety of factors. How much time a person has to exercise will indicate how much time they can dedicate to the warmup. Or, the longer or more intense a workout is, the longer the warmup should be. A 5 or 10-minute warmup is perfect for increasing blood flow and warmth.
Now you have a complete guide for the 12 best warmup and stretching exercises to do before exercising, let us tell you our thoughts:
It is not only important to properly warm-up and stretches pre and post-exercise, but there are many benefits. Most importantly, regulating blood flow and heart rate is vital for good cardiovascular health to prevent injury. Loosening tissue around your muscle will also inhibit muscle and joints injuries as well as enhance performance.
These movements can be done anywhere and. No equipment is needed in order to warm up and stretch. Thus, everyone can benefit from these movements to boost their flexibility, muscle health, and performance.
For those who are new to fitness or have any underlying health conditions, it is important to seek medical advice before committing to exercise.
Drop any questions or comments below.