The aim of a warm up is to prepare your body for exercise. A warm up should include dynamic stretches and movements because you’re quite simply preparing your body to move. Many people are at a loss for exactly what to do for their warm up. As a general guideline, I like to have people put their joints through a full range of motion and perform movements similar to those they would do as part of their work out. I’ve put together a basic warm up that prepares me for any workout. Work through each move eight to ten times.
Let’s start out with the neck:
-Simply look down, and slowly and gently just turn your neck from one side to the other, making sure your eyes follow the direction that you are going. You never want to lean all the way back, and be sure to protect your spine.
From the neck, we’ll take it down shoulders:
-Roll your shoulders starting with small movements. Gradually increase the movements, and then switch direction. Then make them really big circles. Do some in both directions.
-Take your arms our wide, and then cross them across your body. And then do that again—all the way out, and cross over.
-Take your hands behind your head. You want to gently pull your shoulders back, and then bring your elbows together.
-Repeat each move four or five times.
Let’s move on to the back:
-Cross your hands over your body. Then give a slight lean forward and then come back up.
-Leaning over, put your hands onto your thighs, and then pull your back all the way up—almost like a cat stretch, and then relax down. Similar to the cat-cow stretch, but we’re doing it standing.
Now, let’s take it down to the lower body:
-Hips: do some gentle hip circles to loosen up the hips. Just a few in both directions.
-Hamstrings: Standing straight, bring the foot up, bending at the knee, and then tap it back.
-Now, turn that into more of a leg swing. Keep the leg straight. Start off small and then as you progress, just gently bring your leg up a little further.
Make sure to do both legs.
-Another great hamstring one: Pull your knee up to your chest, keeping your back straight, and then release your leg back down. And switch sides.
-Quads: Do some simple squats with toes are pointing forward. Then sit back, as if you were sitting in a chair, using your arms. Do small movements to start with, then as you get comfortable, sit a little deeper and bring your arms our a little further
-To finish off, lift one knee up and hold. Then it pull across the body. You should feel the stretch right on the outside of the glute. Repeat on the other side. Make sure you’re not twisting your body, but you feel good holding your balance.
Now, once you’re done with all your stretches, it’s time to get the heart rate up—do some jumping jacks. So again, start out with small with mini jacks movements and then gradually increase your movements as you get going.
After your warm up, I hope you feel energized and ready to work out. Remember that we are all individuals, so spend longer working on areas of your body that feel tight.
Samantha Clayton, fitness expert and former competitive sprinter. I’m working with Herbalife to help you achieve a healthy, active life.