Most athletes know they need to complete a proper warm-up before they begin a session in the weight room. However, not all athletes actually complete a proper warm-up. In my experience, athletes who do not complete a sufficient 5-minute warm-up neglect to do so for one of three reasons:
- They do not think they really need to complete a warm-up.
- They do not know what an effective warm-up is.
- They lack the space or equipment (think treadmill, elliptical or other cardio equipment) to complete a warm-up.
Let’s address the first issue. You do not need to complete a warm-up before you hit the weights. Then again, you do not need to become a starter. You do not need to earn a college scholarship. As I tell my athletes, if you do not warm up properly, you will not get the most out of your weight room sessions.
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If an athlete goes to a gym to work out and no one is there to lead a proper warm-up, the athlete may skip the workout simply because he or she does not know what to do. Luckily, the 5-minute warm-up below is both easy to remember and easy to complete. Best of all, it requires very little space and no equipment.
Do each exercise for 30 seconds. Details on how to do each exercise and what it does to warm you up accompany the exercise description.
To get your arms and chest ready for a workout, start with this low intensity movement. Swing your arms around in a freestyle fashion. Do arm circles, huggers, etc. to loosen up your upper body.
This is an oldie but a goodie. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Rotate at the waist, back and forth, to warm up your core. Change arm heights (high, low, middle) and arm length (straight arm, bent arm) to alter the amount of torque you generate. Your core should be worked in the weight room, so do not neglect it during your warm-up.
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I learned this move from track & field coaching legend Clyde Hart. Stand with your feet directly under your hips. Squat down and grab the bottom of your shoes (under your toes). If you cannot bend that far, hold your shins. Continue to hold your toes/shins while you alternate straightening your legs and squatting back down. Continue at a slow, steady pace for 30 seconds. This move instantly improves hamstring flexibility. For proof, attempt to do a standing toe touch before and after completing the exercise and notice the difference.
Another old-school move, this exercise gets your heart beating faster than the previous three, while also loosening up your arms and legs.
Jogging Butt Kicks
Continue to get your heart rate up by jogging in place and bringing your heels up toward your butt. This will warm up your hamstrings.
Jogging High Knees
Jog in place. Bring your knees up in front of you. This will get your quadriceps ready for a workout.
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Line Jump Scissors
Find a line on the floor (or just pretend there’s a line) running parallel with your shoulders. Face the line with one foot over the line and the other behind it. Jump up, switch your feet in the air, land and continue repeating for 30 seconds.
Line Jump Side-to-Side
Stand with line perpendicular to your shoulders and both feet on one side. Jump and land with both feet on the other side of the line. Repeat for 30 seconds. These jumping moves will get your heart rate elevated even higher.
Leg Swings Forward and Back
You might need to hold a wall for balance. Stand so your shoulders are perpendicular to a wall. Swing one leg at a time forward and behind you to loosen up your hip flexors. After 15 seconds, switch legs.
Leg Swings Side-to-Side
Turn so that you are facing the wall. Swing your leg from side-to-side while keeping your hands on the wall. Don’t let your shoulders dip; make your abductors and adductors do the work.
Now you have an easy to follow 5-minute warm-up that you can complete without any special equipment before you hit the weight room again.