Warming up your body before a workout is critical: It helps prevent injury, gets your heart rate moving, and improves overall performance. However, many individuals tend to skip this step due to limited time or energy. Here, we’ve put together a list of some simple – yet extremely important – warm-up stretches that can easily be incorporated into your workout routine.
For Your Chest – Beach Ball Warm-Up
For this exercise, simply stand tall with your legs hip-distance apart. Inhale as you open your arms wide, so they come slightly behind you, then exhale as you bring them in front (as if you are hugging a giant beach ball) and round your spine. Do this several times to stretch out your chest effectively.
For Your Back – Cat Cow
Stretching out your back can be challenging, which is why traditional yoga poses are commonly used to target these bigger muscle groups. Cat cow stretches are not only quick and easy, but they also loosen up problematic back muscles that are commonly injured when not warmed up properly.
For this stretch, start on your hands and knees. Push your chest forward and tilt your pelvis back as you inhale, then push away from the ground and round your spine as you exhale.
For Your Shoulders – Arm Swings
Arm swings are a quick, easy, and effective way to get your heart rate up while simultaneously activating and stretching the muscles in your shoulders, as well as in your chest and back.
In this warm-up, open your arms wide, then swing them across your body in front of you, alternating which arm is on top with every rep.
For Your Arms – Arm Circles
Arm circles are an excellent pre-workout exercise because they move your muscles in a circular motion, fully rotating your ball-and-socket joints. Additionally, they are a great way to build muscle and tone your arms.
Simply hold your arms straight out to the sides and start rotating. Make sure that you circle them both forward and backward to achieve the full effects.
For Your Core – Cobra Pose
Incorporating cobra pose into your pre-workout routine is an extremely effective way to warm up your core muscle groups.
For this exercise, lay flat on your stomach with your arms at your sides, elbows tucked neatly against your ribs. Push your chest up from your hands, extending your arms fully if flexibility allows. (You can also push up halfway into sphinx pose and rest on your forearms until you build up flexibility.)
For Your Legs & Glutes – Wide Leg Forward Fold & Lateral Movement
You can warm up your legs and glutes in many different ways, but this stretch is one of the most effective in hitting all of these muscle groups quickly and efficiently.
With your legs wide, hinge the top of your body forward from your hips. From here, you’ll send your hips back and lean from one side to the next, making sure your knees are never over your toes. Hold this stretch on one side, then move to the next. Or, move more quickly and throw in a core rotation for more dynamic stretching. Either way, you’re targeting your glutes, hamstrings, and thighs – all the major leg muscles you’ll likely use throughout your workout.
When you cut stretching out of your workout, you increase your risk of injury, and you won’t get as much out of your workout as you might like. Mitigate that risk by building these exercises into every workout routine. You’ll ensure you’re warming up all of your important muscle groups – and you’ll be ready for anything your workout throws your way.