3 Types of Warm Up Techniques
Ready to get some reps in for leg day or run out a couple of miles before work? Don’t forget the most important part of your workout—taking a few minutes to warm up.
Maybe you know the answer to the question, “Why is cooling down after exercise important?,” or “What helps muscle recovery?”. But, what about the importance of warming up? Like cooling down after a challenging workout, there are many different benefits of warming up before exercise. When you take the time to incorporate proper warm ups into your routine, your body will thank you for it.
So, what are the different types of warm up exercise?
There are several different kinds of warm ups that can set the stage for a successful, injury-free workout. In this short guide, we’ll go over 3 different types of warm up exercises and the best way to implement them into your workout routine.
Choosing the Right Technique for Your Workout
Warming up helps you avoid injury. By easing into your workout, you reduce the internal viscosity of your muscles, allowing them to respond better to heavy stress.1
Warming up also brings up your body’s temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles, which decreases the likelihood of strains and overuse injuries.2 It can also help prevent muscle soreness and support muscle recovery from extended exercise.
Finally, injuries have the potential to keep you out of your favorite exercises for much longer than it takes to warm up, so don’t skip this vital part of your workout! If you are curious how to warm up for leg day or what chest day warm up exercises you should do, keep reading to learn how to prepare various muscle groups before hitting it hard in the gym.
There are three types of warm ups you can do before your next workout:
Cardio Warm Ups. Cardio warm ups quickly raise your body temperature and get your blood flowing.
Dynamic Movement. Dynamic warm up movements open up muscles and joints by allowing your body to go through the full range of dynamic movement that you will be performing throughout a workout. They introduce your body to different motions of active exercise and strengthen posture in a low-stakes environment so that when the pressure is on, you are confident in the movement, meaning you are less likely to hurt yourself.
- Static stretches. Static stretching includes positions that are held for extended periods of time, requiring your body to hold a position not normally maintained and thus increasing flexibility.
Next, we’ll take a closer look at each kind of warm-up.
Cardio Warm Ups
Break a sweat before you really break a sweat by getting that blood flowing!
Which cardio workout is right for you? There’s an option for every weather:3
Jogging. Go on a quick five-to-ten minute run or jog. This movement will loosen up your muscles and raise your heartbeat, easing your body into whatever heavier workout you are about to do.
Butt Kickers and High Knees. Butt kickers and high knees are similar to jogging, but help expand movement in the legs. Butt kickers can be performed in 10-20 yard intervals. Kick the heels of your feet toward your glute muscles as you run. This will get your legs fired up, engaging both your quads and hamstrings. High knees are performed similarly in 10-20 yard intervals. But rather than kicking your feet toward your glute muscles, pull your legs skyward as you run. This engages your hips, legs, and core.4
Jumping Rope. While you probably haven’t jumped rope since P.E. class in grade school, it’s an excellent warm up to complete if you’re pressed for time, or the weather is too unpleasant for a run. Simply grab your jump rope and start skipping for three to five minutes. This warm up mimics the cardio and blood flow you would get on a short sprint. By the time you’re done, your heart rate and body temperature will be elevated, and you’ll be ready to crush your workouts.
- Mountain Climbers. These are another great indoor warmup—all you need is enough space to plank. To do mountain climbers, get into a push-up position with your hands flat on the rubber gym floor, shoulder-width apart. Extend your legs back as if you are about to lower into a push-up. Rather than doing push-ups, kick your legs up toward your chest one-by-one as if you were climbing up a mountain. Just like jumping jacks, this workout quickly proves intense and will prepare your body for a bigger workout to come.
As mentioned above, dynamic movements are similar to the ones you’ll be completing in your workout. They will help you reach the full potential of motion when the pressure is on.
Choose the dynamic movements that target the same muscle groups as your planned workout:5
Lunges. Lunges activate both the quads and hamstrings. Simply extend one knee forward into a 90-degree angle while keeping your back leg straight. Hold the position for five seconds before switching to the other leg.
Leg Circles. Leg circles are similar to arm circles but with your legs. Lift one leg at a time, point the foot, and move your leg in a circular motion 10-15 times. This warm up increases blood flow to the hip and leg, preparing it for a range of motions. Just make sure you hold on to something to keep your balance!
Ankle Roll. Like leg circles, ankle rolls target your ankles to prepare them for a heavier exercise like hiking or running. Simply sit down, lift your leg up, and roll your ankle in a circle 10-15 times.
Shoulder Roll. The shoulder roll loosens your shoulders, neck, and upper back. Lift your shoulders toward the ceiling, then roll them forward toward your chest. Then, pull them down and back then up again toward the sky. Repeat 10-15 times and then reverse the movement. These are ideal for upper body workouts.
- Arm Circles. Arm circles loosen up your shoulders and triceps. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out to your sides. Twist your arms forward in a circle 10-15 times. Then do the same movement in reverse 10-15 times.
Finally, static movements are the classic, time-tested stretches you probably remember from gym class warm ups. Here are a few useful static movements:6
Toe Touch. This is the most basic of stretches. Simply bend forward at the waist, keeping your legs straight, and reach toward your toes. You’ll feel stretching in your hamstrings and lower back. Hold the position for 30 seconds, allowing your muscles to loosen up.
Shoulder Stretch. Take your right hand and reach under your left arm, grasping just above the elbow. Gently pull your left arm across your chest. You’ll feel your left shoulder begin to stretch. Repeat on the right side.
Chest Stretch. About to pump some iron with your 45 lb bar? Take a minute to stretch out those chest muscles. Clasp your hands together behind your lower back, then press down toward the earth, bringing your shoulder blades down and back and your chest up toward the sky.
- Quad Stretches. This is another simple stretch. Lift your right foot toward your butt and grab your ankle with your right hand. You should feel a relaxing stretch in the top of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the left leg.
Suggested Warm Ups for Different Workouts
In many cases, a combination of all three types of warm ups will best prep your body for a hard-hitting workout.
Need some ideas for your warm up routine? The following are simply suggestions to guide you. You’re encouraged to switch out any of these different kinds of warm ups for others mentioned above. In addition, pay attention to your own body and comfort level. A key rule of thumb is that if it hurts, don’t do it.
Prepping to Run
If you’re preparing to get those half marathon miles in or attempting to beat your best mile, taking 10 minutes to go through these steps can warm your body up and decrease the risk of an injury:
Static stretch your legs. Simply bend over at the waist and touch your toes. Hold this position for 30 seconds. After, you can complete a set of quad stretches.
Incorporate a few dynamic movements. Now that your body has blood flowing, incorporate a few lunges, making sure to drop into a deep stretch as you move. After lunges, throw in 20 leg circles on each leg. This will open the hips and prepare them for more strenuous movements.
- Raise your heart rate. Lastly, go on a light jog or quick walk on a treadmill. At this point, your body will be gearing up and ready to go. Once you get your heartbeat raised, you are prepped and ready to run!
Prepping to Lift
Before you step over to your foldable squat rack, you’ll want to target the muscle groups you’re going to work out using some warm up exercise techniques.
Static stretch the muscles you’re targeting. If it’s shoulder day and you’re about to chest press your rubber coated dumbbells, start with a few chest stretches. Conversely, if you plan to work out your legs, a series of 20 lunges can get the blood flowing through your hamstrings.
Use dynamic movements to target muscle groups. Pick a few dynamic movements from the list above that target the muscle groups you plan on working and complete them.
- OPTIONAL STEP: Throwing in a quick jog to get the blood flowing can also be beneficial to your lift if you have the time.
Tru Grit from Warmup to Cool Down
Whether you’re planning to run a marathon or squeeze in a few exercises between meetings at work, warming up is incredibly important. The right warm-up technique will not only help you avoid injury but also get your body primed for a successful workout.
At Tru Grit, we’re here to help you meet your fitness goals—whether that means getting off the couch or winning your next triathlon.
And you don’t need an expensive gym membership to excel as an athlete—our home fitness equipment takes you from warmup to cooldown and beyond. Start tricking out your home gym with our collection for conditioning and complete your workouts from the comfort of home.
CNet. Don’t Forget these Warm Up Techniques Before Your Next Work Out. https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/dont-skip-your-warmup-how-to-properly-warm-up-before-exercising/
Sports Medicine Information. Importance of Warming Up Before Sport - Sports Injury Prevention. https://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/injury-prevention/warming-up.html
Planet Fitness. An Easy 10-Minute Cardio Warm up. https://www.planetfitness.com/community/articles/easy-10-minute-cardio-warm
Runner’s World. High Knees: Drill to Warm Lower Body, Core. https://www.runnersworld.com/women/a20796061/high-knees-drill-to-warm-lower-body-core/
Healthline. 12 Daily Exercises for Dynamic Flexibility. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/dynamic-flexibility
Daily Health Wire. 10 Stretches You Can Do Anywhere. https://www.trihealth.com/dailyhealthwire/wellness-and-fitness/10-stretches-you-can-do-anywhere.