A dynamic warm-up is one key to exercise success because it stimulates blood flow to the working muscle groups. A practical place to start your warm-up routine is by targeting the key muscle groups that you intend to move.
Most forms of exercise specially cardio programs cause the muscles to tighten up, which puts you at risk for injury. Stretching, warms those muscles to counteract the effect and reduce the risk.
Consider some of the best warm-ups you can incorporate into your workout routine.
Stretch It Out
Focuses your stretch on the muscle groups you plan to workout. For example, experienced joggers allow an extra 10 minutes or so to stretch their arms, legs, and back before they run because these are the major muscle groups that they move when jogging.
For example, you might stand in front of a wall, placing your hands on it for support, and push one leg back.
Bend the knee of the forward leg while keeping the heel of the back leg firmly planted on the floor. Hold that stretch for 30 seconds and then switch legs to work the calf muscles.
Stand up and bend one leg as if trying to touch your foot to your back. Grab your foot with one hand and pull to stretch out the quad muscles in front of the leg. With any effective static stretch, you feel the muscle pull slightly and warm up. If today is upper arm day at the gym, then take the time to stretch those arms out.
Warm-up That Back
There are very few exercise routines that don't stress the back, so give it a little extra attention when you warm up. Stand with your feet shoulder length apart and place your hands on your hips. Bend forward, so your upper torso is bent slightly towards the floor then circle to the right. Keep it moving to the back to do a small backbend and then around to the left. These back circles massage your lower back, increasing the blood flow and warming up critical muscles. Do this for about 30 seconds or so and then switch directions.
Once you complete your back circles, warm up your hips the same way. Stand with your hands on your hips and shift your weight to the right then circle the pelvis around to give the hip muscles a stretch.
Get Your Heart Beating
You have one more critical muscle to warm up – your heart. Something as simple as marching in place will get the heart pumping. Start slow and then increase to a light jog.
Squats are one of the most effective ways to increase your heart rate while warming up the abs, back, and legs at the same time.
Stand with your hands stretched out in front of you and then bend your knees as if getting ready to sit on an imaginary chair. Go as low as possible then hold for a few seconds before pushing back to start.
For an extra challenge, raise your arms while in your squat, almost like you are holding a beach ball while sitting on your chair. All it takes is one minor injury to curb your enthusiasm and put you back on the couch, so before you exercise, stretch those muscles and stay safe.
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