How to Warm Up for A Run, or Bike, Or Gym Workout.

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Once we get revved up to go workout it’s tempting to take off at top speed. But going straight into a sweat session —without a proper warmup—is a recipe for disaster, and injury.

If you start out too fast, you run the risk of pulling a muscle, tweaking a tendon, bone, or joint, or getting into a pace that you can’t sustain. The result? You end up slowing down and burning out before you’re done with your workout.  The worst part is that you’re likely to end your training session feeling exhausted, discouraged, and dreading your next workout. I always notice when I don’t properly warm up before a run my form suffers and when I don’t “activate my butt, hips and core” before the bicycle I get knee pain after 20 minutes or so. Warming up has become essential for me in feeling my best before and after training. I now budget time to “do my homework” with a good warm-up so that I can get the most from my workout!

Theres a lot of confusion on what a “good warmup” is. Do you stretch? Do jumping jacks? Crunch your core into oblivion? Lets clear up the fitness myths. A smart warmup up turns all the right muscles ON. It gives your muscles, bones, and joints a chance to loosen up; it gradually and gently brings up your heart rate and makes it easier to get into the rhythm you want to sustain so you can start—and finish—feeling exhilarated. A good warm up should leave you feeling energized and excited to set out for your next workout.

The Goals of a Solid Warm-Up Include:

  • Increase heart rate to get the blood pumping through the body and warm up the muscles.
  • Open up your joints, especially those within the hips, spine, feet and ankles.
  • Actively stretch your muscles to prepare them for what you’ll be asking them for during the run.
  • Reinforce great posture.
  • Hit the ground running with all systems go when the gun goes off!

Before a workout you want to Activate and Turn ON all the right muscles. For most people, the muscles you want to prep pre-workout are:

  • Butt
  • Hips
  • Core
  • Feet
  • Heart

Many people are what we call “quad and hip-flexor” dominant. This means the quads, hip-flexors, and front of the body are stronger than the back of the body (butt, hips, and core muscles). This imbalance can create issues down the road, not to mention effect the way you move and perform. Evening out this muscular  imbalance with exercises that target the back of the body and core muscles can help prevent injury and improve performance.  Not to mention the butt and core muscles are your POWER HOUSES when you workout. Being able to activate, engage, and use them when you train will change your game from surviving to THRIVING in no time. Its the secret to getting the most out of every workout, and feeling good for years to come.

*** Note on stretching PRE-workout. Static stretching, where you hold a muscle in an elongated, fixed position for 30 seconds or more, is now discouraged pre workout, as it’s been linked to injury. But dynamic stretching, which uses controlled leg movements to improve range of motion, loosen up muscles, and increase heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow will help you train more efficiently. There are many dynamic stretching  exercises included in the video routine below.

Bottom line? Turn on your butt and core, raise your heart rate, and give your body a few minutes to prep for movement. Even 5 minutes will go far in helping you feel your best both during and after the workout. Wanted to get started on making a solid warm-up a habit?  Start with this quick 10 minute routine I put together which activates the muscles used to power up your run, cycling class, or gym session. Start slowly, focus on form and quality. Use small movements for the first few reps, and increase the range of motion as you go.

The exercises included in the video are:

  • Squat with reach
  • Lunge with rotation
  • Lateral lunge
  • plank
  • Bird dog
  • side plank
  • star plank
  • bridge

As always, check with your doctor before starting this or any other exercise routine. Remember, when it comes to improving your fitness and living a healthy life, ANYTHING counts. Keep moving, train positive, and keep being AWESOME.

Do you warm up before a workout? What is your favorite warm up exercise move? If this post helped you, share it with your friends on Facebooktwitter, or email. More great content is headed your way every week to help you live a happy, healthy life! 

Yours in health and happiness,

Caroline

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