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Try This Dynamic Stretching Warm Up Before Your Workout

In my five years as a group fitness instructor I’ve noticed something over and over again: most people don’t know how to warm-up properly. Let’s face it – we’re short on time. We want to get in the gym, get our workout over with, and go home. Rather than properly warming up, many of us tend to jump right into our workout full force.

The ultimate purpose of “warming up” is to reduce the risk of injury while exercising, as it will prepare the body for exercise by increasing blood flow and warming up various muscle groups. A great way to warm up is by taking a few minutes to perform various dynamic stretching exercises.

When you think of “stretching,” you probably think of holding a stretch in place for a specific number of seconds; this would be static stretching, and should only be done after a workout because it actually relaxes the muscles. Performing static stretching exercises prior to exercise can actually cause injury to the muscles because it prevents them from preparing for a workout!

Dynamic stretching means performing a constant, controlled motion through a full range of motion. This stimulates blood flow and warms up the desired muscle group. I like to warm up for 5-10 minutes before a workout and target various major muscle groups throughout the body. Here is a good example of an effective dynamic stretching warm-up:

Arm Circles

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Fully extend one arm up with fingers pointed towards the sky and the other arm down (with fingers pointed to the ground). Circle the arms forward, as if you were doing a freestyle swimming motion. Make the movement big and keep the movement of your hips to a minimum. Keep this forward motion for about 30 seconds and then move in the opposite direction (as if you were doing the backstroke) for another 30 seconds.

Warms up: shoulders, back and abdominal muscles

Arm Swings

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Fully extend both arms straight out to each side. Swing both arms forward so that they overlap (like you’re giving yourself a hug) and then swing back to the starting position. Repeat this motion for 30-45 seconds.

Warms up: chest and back

Chain Breakers

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Make fists with both hands and bend both elbows just below shoulder height. Push fists together in front of the chest. Simultaneously thrust both elbows backwards, opening up the chest and then return to the starting position. Repeat this motion for 30-45 seconds.

Warms up: chest and back

Toe Touches

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Stand with your feet wider than your hips and arms fully extended towards the air. Bend at the waist and touch your right hand to your left foot, then return to starting position. Repeat again, touching your left hand to your right foot and so on. Touch each foot 10-15 times.

Warms up: hamstrings

Circle Kicks

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Stand with your feet a little wider than your hips. Extend one leg out fully so that it crosses the body and move it in a circular motion, returning to the ground. Then, perform the same motion with your opposite leg. Kick each leg 10-15 times.

Warms up: glutes and hip flexors

Jump Ropes

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Stand with your feet hip width apart and position your hands as if you were holding an imaginary jump rope. Jump in place while making small circles with your hands like you would while jumping rope. Perform exercise for 30-45 seconds.

Warms up: legs, raises heart rate

Butt Kicks

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Stand with your feet hip width apart and start jogging in place. Think about bending your knees and “kicking” your butt with your heels as you jog. Perform exercise for 30-45 seconds.

Warms up: legs, raises heart rate

High Knees

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Stand with your feet hip width apart and start jogging in place. Hold your hands if front of you (with palms facing down) at waist height. Pick up your knees as you jog with the intention of raising your legs high enough for your thighs to touch your hands. Perform exercise for 30-45 seconds.

Warms up: legs, raises heart rate

Also Read:

Essential Stretching for Runners

3 Ways to Get a Better Workout and Burn More Calories

Try a Les Mills Body Pump Class

November 19th, 2013

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