Are you overlooking one of the most important parts of your workouts? It's easy to skip warming up, especially when you're trying to squeeze in a quick workout—but you need to make time for it. Warm-ups prepare your muscles for intense weight training, practices and games by promoting bloodflow to joints, tendons and muscles. A cold, tight muscle is susceptible to a strain.
A proper warmup consists of more than stretches. Static stretches merely relax tight muscles; they don't elevate the heart rate or induce the necessary blood flow to joints and muscles. Try these dynamic warm-up movements to better prepare yourself for training:
1. Medicine Ball Wall Rollups
These effectively warm up the legs and upper body. In a squat position, hold a four- to eight-pound medicine ball at chest level against a wall with arms bent. Use your fingertips to slowly roll the ball up the wall as high as possible while extending your legs, rising onto your toes and stretching your arms overhead. Without pausing, slowly roll the ball back down as you squat low, then roll it back up again. Do 10 repetitions.
2. Walking Lunges and Ball Raises
Holding a medicine ball at chest level with arms outstretched, lunge forward with your left leg and simultaneously raise the ball overhead. Bring the ball back to chest level as you lunge forward with your right leg and raise ball overhead. Continue Walking Lunges/Ball Raises for about forty yards.
3. Jumping Jacks
This old school movement efficiently warms up the upper and lower body and core muscles. Start with your feet spread apart at shoulder width and your hands at your sides. Jump as you bring your feet/legs together and your arms together overhead. Aim for 60 to 90 seconds of non-stop Jumping Jacks.
Here's another old-time favorite that warms up the upper and lower body along with the core. Start from a push-up position with back straight and hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping legs straight, slowly walk your toes in as close to your hands as possible. Your hips will elevate. Pause one second, then walk your hands forward back to push-up position. Repeat for 5 to 10 reps. Besides being a terrific warm-up exercise, inchworms also improve hamstring and shoulder flexibility.
5. Woodchoppers and Twists
Assume athletic stance holding a medicine ball overhead. Explosively drive ball through the legs while bending knees and extending hips. Next, raise ball to chest level with arms extended and twist from left to right, keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Repeat by raising ball overhead, then through legs, then to chest level and twist. Do 10 reps.
6. Side Lunges and Ball Press-outs
Assume athletic position holding medicine ball close to chest. Lunge laterally with right leg and simultaneously press ball away from your chest. Bring left leg toward right and continue—right leg Side Lunge/Ball Press-out. Do 10 right, immediately followed by 10 left.