Today, you’re gonna learn the importance of warming up, and how to warm up with specific video routines…because I’m a nice person.
This is so critical for training safely that whenever we design a workout for our coaching clients, it always starts with a proper warm-up. So I’m excited to share these warm-up tips and tricks with you too.
In this guide, we’ll cover the following (click to go to that section):
This stuff is so important because getting injured sucks.
And every single day I watch people wander into the gym, immediately lie down on a bench, and start cranking out their workout with a heavyweight within seconds.
This makes me weep for humanity.
These people are just WAITING to get injured. They’re essentially playing with dynamite (also not recommended).
So you’re reading the right article.
Also, if you’re interested in a program that tells you exactly how to warm up and work out, you may like our new app!
Nerd Fitness Journey will set you on an adventure that will tell you exactly when to workout, when to warm up, and when you should rest. No guesswork needed.
You can sign-up for a free trial right here:
Above all else, the most important thing you can do when working out is to warm up properly.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Come on. Surely it’s not the MOST important thing…”
To which I’d reply: “First, don’t call me Shirley. Secondly, if you don’t have enough time to warm up, then you don’t have enough time to work out.”
So WHY is it so important?
Think of your muscles like rubber bands.
If you spend all day sitting at a desk, hunched over a keyboard, those rubber bands have gone almost completely unused.
Then, if you go to a gym and immediately start lifting heavy weights or sprinting really fast, those cold, unstretched rubber bands get pulled apart very quickly and can get snapped or pulled out of shape.
So, what about just regular, static stretching before working out?
As we point out in “Should you stretch before or after your workout?“:
“A consolidation of studies showed there aren’t many benefits to static stretching before workouts.
For starters, static stretching will not result in the reduction of the chance of injury.
Also, static stretching can actually decrease your potential for strength gains and performance.”
However, dynamic warm-ups – what you’ll learn in this article and what we focus on with our 1-on-1 coaching clients – are AWESOME for prepping you to get ready to strength train:
Think of it like a pregaming for your muscles – except replace “alcohol” with “awesome.” By jumping around and getting your muscles loose, active, warm, and ready for action, you are putting your muscles through their full range of motion and getting them ready to start handling heavier loads (strength training).
As pointed out in this study, “warming up” can also help reduce soreness after a workout.
On top of that, doing a dynamic warm-up can help activate your central nervous system, priming your muscles for a great workout that produces your best effort.
Add “improved blood circulation” to the list of benefits of warming up, which will help you perform well in each exercise.
Need another reason? When your body is properly warmed up, your muscles and joints are ready for maximum flexibility, which means you can perform each exercise with PROPER form (like deep barbell squats, for example) that maximizes results and minimizes the risk of injury.
Still with me?
Great. If you have been injured in the past, and you’re learning to warm up so you can stop stalling out on your progress, let us help!
We create custom workout solutions with nutritional guidance for busy people like you.
In other words, we help you get strong and eat better, every step of the way.
Don’t overthink this: Your goal is to elevate your heart rate, put your muscles and joints through their range of motion to warm them up and make sure everything is functioning properly, and preparing your body to strength train!
This will get you prepped for a day of getting stronger.
If you read the above paragraph and thought: “Yes I am doing strength training, please tell me more Steve! More!”
Firstly, thanks for saying please – your mom taught you well.
Next: let us help get you strong, safely! We help busy people go from strength-training-newbie to strength training badasses.
Whether you’re doing bodyweight or new to weight training, we create a workout program and provide food guidance that’s specific to YOUR life.
#1) Here is an Advanced Warm-up Circuit you can do anywhere:
- Jump rope: 2-3 minutes (optional)
- Jumping jacks: 50 reps(pull your shoulder blades back, extend arms and really focus on the movement)
- Bodyweight Squats: 20 reps
- Lunges: 5 reps each leg
- Hip extensions: 10 reps
- Hip rotations: 10 reps each leg (like you’re stepping over a fence)
- Forward leg swings: 10 reps each leg.
- Side leg swings: 10 reps each leg
- Push-ups: 10-20 reps
- Spider-man steps: 5 each leg
This particular warm-up might be more difficult than your actual workout, especially if you’re following something like The Beginner Bodyweight Workout.
Yes, there is a lot of work put on your hips, butt, legs, and core. As nerds/desk jockeys, these tend to be the muscles that are the tighest and least active, and thus most susceptible to an injury.
If your arms and chest are particularly tight or sore, you can throw two more movements as well:
- Arm swings (holding your arms straight out to the side, and then swing them and cross them in front of your chest)
- Shoulder rotations (holding your arms straight out to the side, and move your arms in a circular motion, making bigger circles each time)
Are you a runner?
#2) Check out our warm-up routine specifically designed for runners:
You can also check out our Beginner’s Guide to Running for more tips on how to run safely.
#3) Here’s another advanced dynamic warm-up for an endurance workout:
When it comes time for your workout, if you are doing heavy strength training (with barbells or dumbbells), make sure you do some warm-up sets before jumping into the weight you’ll be training with for EACH EXERCISE.
Always start with a set using just the bar to work on your form and get your body used to the movement.
Then, do a few sets of just a few reps with increasing weight (but won’t tire you out) and THEN start your workout.
It’s something we bring up before every workout in Nerd Fitness Journey, our new habit-building app! If you want, you can test drive it right now for free!
These are our favorite quick warm-up exercises that can help you prevent an injury during your workout!
- Marching in place while swinging your arms.
- Jumping jacks
- Walking jacks
- Arm circles and shoulder shrugs.
- Mountain Climbers
- Swinging toe touches.
- Leg swings (forward)
- Leg swings (side to side).
- Hip rotations (like stepping over a fence)
- Hip circles (like you’re hula hooping)
- Bodyweight squats.
- Hip extensions.
Get into the habit of doing these exercises before doing any workout. They’ll help keep you mobile and limber and injury free. If you’re not sure how to do any of these movements, watch the videos for them below.
1. MARCHING IN PLACE WHILE SWINGING ARMS
2. WALKING JACKS (If You Can’t Do Jumping Jacks)
3. JUMPING JACKS
4. ARM CIRCLES AND SHOULDER SHRUGS
5. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
6. SWINGING TOE TOUCHES
7. LEG SWINGS (FORWARD)
7. LEG SWINGS (SIDE)
8. HIP ROTATIONS
9. HIP CIRCLES
11: KNEE PUSH-UPS
12: REGULAR PUSH-UPS
13. SUPPORTED LUNGES
14. REGULAR LUNGES
15. HIP RAISES
These exercises are the PERFECT movements you should be doing before any strength training program.
Oh, what’s that? You’re new to strength training and not sure what you’re doing? No problem!
We help people exactly like you.
Well, not exactly. You’re a unique snowflake, your mom loves you, etc.
What I mean is we help people like you to start strength training.
We do form checks, create custom workouts based on your equipment and time commitment, and more.
To Answer Your First Few Questions…
“Steve, I can’t do jumping jacks/I live on the second floor.”
That’s okay – the reason I love jumping jacks is that they work out all four of your limbs at once and get you bouncing around.
Instead, channel your inner Chuck Norris and do punches and kicks with each leg. I don’t care if you can’t kick higher than your shins and your punch wouldn’t kill a fly…just get those limbs flailing and warmed up!
You could also just do “Walking Jacks.”
“Um, your warm-up is tougher than my actual workout!”
The dynamic warm-up above is designed for people who are doing serious training.
However, if you are just getting started with exercise and you’re only doing bodyweight exercises, obviously 20 real push-ups during your workout isn’t possible…
THAT’S OKAY. Think of the above as the warm-up you aspire to complete. In the meantime, do the best you can. Let’s say…
The Nerd Fitness “Level 0” Warm-up:
Follow the rest of the routine as planned if possible.
In this routine, your warm-up will act as part of your workout, as you’ll be doing the same functional movements.
Do the BEST you can, keep track of your results for your warm-up too, and improve with each workout.
With enough consistency and persistency (not a word, but rhymed better and sounded way better than persistence), you’ll be busting out the full warm-up routine before kicking ass at your actual workout!
Don’t have a program to follow? Or tired of following a random plan online that’s not getting you results?
Check out our Online Coaching Program – we’ll take care of all the heavy lifting (except the actual “heavy lifting,” that’s your job).
Warm-Up Properly and Avoid Injury!
Hopefully, this is a post you bookmark, as it’s probably one of the most important ones I’ve ever written.
If you want to stay injury-free, put your body through a dynamic warm-up before you start your exercise.
If you are somebody who wants to follow a program that is tailor-made for their life and situation and goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Coaching program.
You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself, answer any and all fitness questions you have, and program your workouts and nutrition for you.
What other questions can I answer for you about warming up properly?
I’m here to help!
PS: Still here, but not sure what to do after your warm-up? Why not let our app tell you exactly what to do!
PPS: The companion post to this guide is “How to Stretch After a Workout.” Give it a read if you’re wondering about what post-workout routines you should try.
All photo sources can be found right here.