Are you sure you’re starting your workout the right way? If you just take off running, you might be putting yourself at risk for injury or hurting your chances for progress.
That’s right—every workout should begin with an actual warm-up. On the bright side, this workout warm-up doesn’t have to be complicated. With just a few easy warm-up exercises, you’ll be off and running in the best way possible.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CARDIO WARM-UP EXERCISES?
Sure, you want to jump right to the good part of your workout. However, you shouldn’t discount the importance of good warm-up exercises, which can offer several benefits and help you get the most out of your exercise routine. Some of the perks of warming up before your workout include:
- Increasing blood flow to your muscles
- Warming up your muscles
- Slowly raising your heart rate
- Preparing your muscles for stretching
- Lowering your risk for injury
- Potentially reducing muscle soreness
Even a quick cardio warm-up can provide several benefits, so don’t leave this valuable step out of your workout routine. After you warm up your muscles, you can include a few pre-workout stretches to improve your range of motion and flexibility before activity. Just make sure you don’t stretch your muscles before warming them up. Fortunately, cardio warm-up exercises can help warm up your muscles and provide a slight stretch at the same time.
HOW TO WARM UP BEFORE A WORKOUT
From preparing your muscles for action to helping prevent injury, the benefits of a quick cardio warm-up should be convincing enough to make it part of your routine. These easy warm-up exercises will get your blood flowing and provide a dynamic stretch at the same time.
1. JUMPING JACKS
Your middle school gym teacher really was up to something. Jumping jacks are actually a good warm-up exercise for anyone, not just kids in gym class. After all, they get your whole body moving, enhancing blood flow to the muscles in your legs, arms, and core. Jumping jacks are great before a run, weightlifting, biking, and more.
In case you forgot proper jumping jack form after middle school:
- Start standing with your feet together and your hands at your sides.
- Jump up while bringing your feet out to the sides and bringing your hands together above your head.
- Jump back to the starting position and repeat.
- Continue for about 30 seconds.
Lunge your way into warm, stretched muscles. Lunges help boost blood flow to your leg muscles, including your glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings. They also help activate your core to keep you stable. Include this easy warm-up exercise before a run, bike ride, or weight lifting.
To lunge properly:
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step forward with your right foot and lunge forward, dropping your hips and bringing your right knee in line with your right foot.
- Push into your right foot, raising your body up and back to return to the starting position.
- Switch sides, bringing your left foot forward.
- Repeat these motions for about 10 reps on each side.
3. BUTT KICKERS
They don’t sound pleasant, but butt kickers really are an easy cardio warm-up exercise. Butt kickers help get your heart rate up while also acting as a dynamic stretch for your quadriceps. Since they get your legs moving, butt kickers are a great warm-up before a run or bike ride.
To perform butt kickers:
- Start standing straight up with your feet hip-width apart.
- Kick your right foot up behind you, bringing your heel to your glutes.
- Then raise your left heel to your glutes, alternating back and forth between each leg.
- You can do this motion either by hopping in place or while lightly jogging forward.
4. BODYWEIGHT SQUATS
Bodyweight squats warm up the glutes, hip flexors, core, and hamstrings. Needless to say, they are a great, nearly full-body warm-up exercise. Remember that this easy warm-up exercise is meant to warm up your muscles, so don’t try to be a hero and add extra weight. Bodyweight squats are a great warm-up before weightlifting on leg day, biking, or running.
To do bodyweight squats:
- Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Drop your hips down and back, bringing your glutes below your knees while keeping your back straight.
- Push into your feet and raise your glutes back up to return to your standing position.
5. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
Who would’ve thought climbing a mountain would be an easy warm-up exercise? Fortunately, these metaphorical mountain climbers are a bit simpler than that. This dynamic exercise gets the heart rate going and warms up your legs while engaging your core and upper body as you support the movement. Perform mountain climbers before a bike ride, hike, or run.
To do mountain climbers:
- Start in a high plank position with your hands placed shoulder width apart, hips parallel to the floor, and core engaged so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels.
- Bring your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg behind you at the same time.
- In one motion, switch your legs, bringing your left leg into your chest and extending your right leg behind you, in a single-legged plank.
- Repeat this motion for about 30 seconds.
6. ARM CIRCLES
If you’ve ever played a sport that involved throwing a ball, you’ve probably gotten real familiar with arm circles. Of course, arm circles activate the muscles in your arms while also boosting blood flow to your shoulders, chest, and lats. Arm circles are a good warm-up exercise for weightlifting, but they are also great for jumping on the rowing machine, swimming, or playing a sport that involves throwing.
Even with circles involved, this exercise is pretty straightforward:
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Extend your arms straight out at shoulder height and keep your core engaged for stability.
- Move your arms forward and backward, and imagine that you are using your hands to draw small circles at your sides.
- Continue this motion for about 30 seconds and gradually make wider circles as you go.
- Then repeat the same motion in reverse.
BUILD YOUR IDEAL CARDIO WORKOUT WARM-UP
Including some easy warm-up exercises in your exercise routine can pay huge dividends and help you maximize your workout. At EōS Fitness, we provide you with all the tools necessary not only for a great workout but also for a smooth workout warm-up and cool-down.
From state-of-the-art equipment to saunas and hot tubs, you can build your entire workout routine at EōS. If you need help structuring your routine, consider Personal Training. The right Personal Trainer can help provide you with a solid list of exercises and teach you how to warm-up before a workout. If you sign up today you can enjoy a Complimentary Welcome Workout with a Personal Trainer.
Find an EōS Fitness location near you to see all the excellent amenities within reach.