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9 warm-up exercises to perform before a workout

Performing warm-up exercises helps you get ready for the intense workout, reducing the risk of injury. Here are 9 warm-up exercises that you may perform before a workout to loosen up your tight muscles.

People often question the importance of warm-up exercises before an intense workout. The answer is clear, they are crucial. The primary goal of a warm-up is to increase blood flow and oxygen supply to your muscles. Not to mention, warm-up exercises improve your performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Not warming up before a workout means tight and cold muscles, which makes you prone to muscle strains and severe muscle contractions during exercise. Additionally, warm-ups enhance flexibility, prepare your nervous system, and increase your range of motion. Hence, following pre-workout exercises is essential for a safe and effective workout session.

Warm-up exercises

Here are 7 expert-recommended warm-up exercises that you should perform before a workout:

1. Arm circles

Arm circles are a simple yet effective way to warm up the shoulders and improve upper body mobility. “It helps to increase blood flow to the shoulder joints and muscles, preparing them for more demanding activities,” says fitness expert Sonia Bakshi.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
  • Start making small circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles.
  • After a set number of repetitions, reverse the direction of the circles. Keep in mind that you should perform the exercise slowly.
Arm circles for toned arms
Try doing arm circles for toned arms and mobility. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Hip circles

Hip circles are essential for loosening up the hip joints and improving lower body flexibility.

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Here’s how to perform it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on your hips.
  • Make large circles with your hips, first in one direction for 15-20 seconds, then switch to the opposite direction.

3. Wrist rotation

Wrist rotations are essential for warming up the wrists, especially if your workout involves weightlifting or exercises that put strain on the wrists.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing down.
  • Make a fist with each hand and rotate your wrists in circular motions.
  • After several rotations, change the direction.

Also read: Don’t forget to perform these wrist warm-up exercises before your intense workouts!

4. Jumping jack

Jumping jacks are a dynamic full-body exercise that targets muscles in your legs, arms, and core. “Incorporating jumping jacks into your warm-up routine can help increase your heart rate and improve coordination, preparing your body for more intense physical activities,” explains Bakshi.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  • Jump while spreading your legs shoulder-width apart and simultaneously raising your arms above your head.
  • Quickly jump back to the starting position and repeat.
jumping jacks for fat loss
Jumping jacks are highly effective for fat loss! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Cat-cow pose

The cat-cow pose is one of the best exercises to stretch and activate your spine and back muscles. This movement sequence gently stretches the spine, neck, and shoulders, promoting flexibility and relieving tension in the back.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Begin on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Inhale and arch your back, dropping your belly towards the floor and lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling (cow pose).
  • Exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling, tucking your chin to your chest and pulling your belly button towards your spine (cat pose).
  • Alternate between these two positions for several breaths.

6. High plank to downward dog

This exercise is excellent for warming up the upper body, core, and hamstrings. This dynamic movement improves shoulder stability, core strength, and flexibility in the posterior chain.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Start in a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
  • Engage your core and hold the plank for a moment.
  • Then, push your hips up and back into the downward dog position, creating an inverted V shape with your body.
  • Hold this position briefly, stretching your hamstrings and calves. Return to the high plank position and repeat.

Also read: How to warm up before running and why

7. Alternating lunge

Lunges are effective for warming up the lower body, particularly the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. “Alternating lunges help improve flexibility, strength, and coordination,” says the expert.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left knee almost touches the ground.
  • Push off your right foot to return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg. Continue alternating legs.
Lunges are a great way to strengthen your legs. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

8. Inchworm

The inchworm exercise is a dynamic movement that stretches the entire body and activates multiple muscle groups. This exercise warms up the shoulders, core, and hamstrings, enhances flexibility, and improves body awareness.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend at the waist and place your hands on the ground, walking them forward until you reach a high plank position.
  • Hold the plank for a moment, then walk your feet towards your hands, keeping your legs as straight as possible.
  • Stand up and repeat the sequence.

9. High knees

High knees are excellent for boosting cardiovascular endurance and warming up the lower body. It targets your hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Here’s how to perform it:

  • Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Jog in place, bringing your knees up toward your chest as high as possible with each step.
  • Maintain a rapid pace while swinging your arms to engage your upper body.

6 things to remember when performing warm-up exercises

When performing warm-up exercises, keep these things in mind to avoid the risk of injury:

  • Prioritise proper form to prevent injury and maximize effectiveness.
  • Start with low intensity and gradually increase to prepare your body without overexertion.
  • Pay attention to your breathing, keeping it steady and controlled.
  • Avoid bouncing or jerky motions to reduce strain on your muscles and joints.
  • Perform dynamic movements carefully with all your attention.
  • Stay hydrated and listen to your body, stopping if you feel any pain or discomfort.

With these exercises, you not only prepare your body for an intense workout but also boost strength and coordination!

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