Even if you have a hectic schedule and have to cut your workout short frequently, skipping a warm-up routine will do more harm than good. You may save a few minutes, but your body will protest later and you may end up hurting yourself and compromise your current health and fitness level.
Here are some simple warm-up exercises that take only a few minutes to get your body ready for an intense workout or a sporting event:
1. Head and Shoulder Rolls
Stand straight and place your hands on your hips. Now, roll those shoulders forward and backward in a rolling motion and then roll your head completely but slowly clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Each roll should cover a single breath in and out (inhale 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds then exhale 5 seconds).
This is a great warm-up for those who sit behind a desk for 8 hours straight or more. The rolling motion of the head and shoulders will release pent up tension in muscles that are stiff from disuse. Repeat this warm-up at least 10 times for full effect.
2. Hip Circles
If your hips feel tight, jumping into a workout before loosening them with a warm-up is not a good idea especially if you have to do lower body exercises. If the muscles are too tight down there your range of motion will be limited particularly in the glutes and cause discomfort in other parts of the body as well such as your legs, pelvis, and back.
Stand with your feet together and then raise one knee at a 90° angle. While balancing yourself, make a circle with your knee as wide as possible. Repeat 8 times and then repeat 8 times in the other direction before switching legs.
3. Jump Rope
If you need a rigorous warm-up routine but are short on time, all you need is a jump rope. This simple warm-up will also reduce your chances of injuries besides ensuring you get the most out of your workouts for the ideal gym motivation.
Here’s what you need to do. Start jumping robe with the standard two-footed jump to get the blood pumping. Alternate with different jumping styles to break the monotony and keep at it for 30 seconds.
4. Knee Hugs
If you are a runner, you need to warm-up those quads, calves, and glutes before hopping on that treadmill. That’s nothing that some knee hugs won’t fix.
Keep your shoulders back, core tight and stand with your feet at least a hip wide apart and pull one knee to your chest. Repeat on other knee and make sure you land beside the ball of the leg you are standing on each time to remain aligned. Continue this warm-up for 30 to 60 seconds for each knee.
5. Squat and Raised Heel
Want to prevent your butt from sagging? Try the squat and raised heel workout before working out. Here’s what you need to do. Stand with your heels shoulder-width apart and then turn your toes open. Bend the knees to lower into a squat and make sure your hips are extended. Now, drop your arms between your knees and then stand up while pressing down hard on your heels. As you rise, bring your arms back to your side and at the top lift them up and lift yourself on your toes.
Continue this warm-up exercise for 30 to 60 seconds.
The best way to get great hamstrings is with a warm-up that focuses on them. This exercise will also improve your flexibility, increase your heart rate and make you stronger at the same time.
Here’s what you need to do. Stand with your feet hip apart and keep your arms at the side. Then bend over from your hips and crawl to a plank position. Hold that pose for a few seconds and make sure that your core is tight. Then crawl back with your hands and stand back on your feet. Do 8 of these before starting your workout.
7. Cooling Down Exercises
Cooling down after a rigorous workout is just as important as warming up because it allows your body to power down. At this point, your heart is beating a mile a minute and your internal temperature is elevated. In other words, if you don’t stop or power down soon, you may pass out.
These cool down exercises will bring you back to a stable state and reduce lactic acid build-up which can otherwise make you go stiff. After completing your workout, walk around slowly for at least 5 minutes or till your heart rate goes down.
After that, do some stretching exercises by holding stretches for 10 to 30 seconds. Don’t over-exert yourself though and don’t start bouncing. Plus, do breathing exercises during then – inhale when you stretch and exhale when you let go of it.
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