The Universal Pre-Workout Warmup

We often neglect our bodies’ need to warm up before undertaking fundamental workouts. The better you warm up, the better your workout session will be.

Types Of Warmup

First, let’s briefly overview 3 kinds of warmups you could perform before your session. Which one to go for depends on your goals, as well as on how you feel.

Quick warmup. As a rule, a quick warmup is done before musical fitness training, such as for example, Zumba. Before this kind of training, you mainly do light and small stretches since most of the warmup actually occurs already during the exercise itself. A quick warmup lasts about 5 to 7 minutes.

Moderate warmup. The moderate warmup lasts about 15 minutes. In addition to stretching exercises, this type of warmup includes a small set of cardio and strength exercises such as squats, side steps, or exercises with light dumbbells. You could do exercises to warm up your entire body and/or exercises to warm up the muscles that you will be working on today specifically.

Intense warmup. An intense warmup includes all the previous types of warmups, plus a set of bodyweight exercises.

This warmup begins with a light run which can last about 10 minutes. Next, after you catch your breath, you perform exercises to stretch and warm up your muscles. And finally, you proceed to the more strength-oriented part of the warmup that prepares you for today’s session. Depending on what you are training, the strength portion could include pull-ups, dips, push-ups, curls, good mornings, or squats.

All this takes approximately 40-45 minutes.

An intense warmup can also be considered as a full-fledged workout – for example, if it is done at the beginning of the working day when you need to warm up but save some energy for the day.

The Universal Pre-Workout Warmup

Below, I will dwell on a variant of a universal warmup before training that can be suitable for many kinds of training sessions. It’s a general kind of warmup that you may use as-is or incorporate into your existing routine.

It should be noted that the proposed warmup is not intended for professionals of a particular sports discipline. You will not find complex stretch moves or strength exercises below. Only a certified coach can give you specific guidelines for your discipline and goals.

Below is a more or less light and general warmup aimed at warming up the muscles before the session.

Light run

So, a universal warmup before training starts with a light run on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes. Make sure to pick good running shoes for this portion since bad footwear can lead to joint pain or even injury.

After you are done with the run, catch your breath and proceed to warm up your spine, starting with neck muscles.

Neck tilt

Neck warmup begins with the side tilt. Slowly tilt your head right and left with a pause in the middle. Some people also like to hold their head to the side for up to 5 seconds and then return to the middle position. Perform neck tilts smoothly without rapid movements to avoid pain or injury.

Then comes another neck exercise – forward and backward tilt. Again, you should do the exercise as smoothly as possible and in no case make sudden movements.

Perform 5-10 reps for each side in the neck tilt. You may do more than one set if you feel that your neck muscles aren’t warm enough. If you feel pain while performing any kind of neck tilt, don’t push yourself – instead, you may want to skip the exercise and move to the next one.

Arm warmup

Now, arm warmup. You will start from the fingers and move up towards the shoulders.

Start with your fingers by squeezing your fists and then extending your fingers. Do 10-15 reps or more if you feel like it.

Then, perform some wrist rotations clockwise and counterclockwise. Do around 10-15 rotations in each direction.

Further, perform forearm rotations for elbow warmup. To do this, extend your arms to the sides, keep your arms and shoulders fixed, and rotate your forearms around the elbow clockwise and counterclockwise. Try to achieve as much range of motion as you can. Again, perform 10-15 rotations in each direction.

For shoulder warmup, with your arms extended to the sides, place your fingers on top of your deltoids, as if forming triangles with your arms. Then, perform shoulder rotations as follows:

  • Lift your elbows up and towards each other.
  • Move your elbows forward and then down towards your torso.
  • Move your elbows to the sides and back into the starting position with your arms horizontal.

This makes for a rotational movement where you basically move your elbows around your shoulder joint. Again, try to achieve as much range of motion as you can. Perform about 10 rotations front-to-back and back-to-front.

You may perform each of the exercises above for more than one set, depending on how you feel and how quickly you warm up.

Torso warmup

Next comes the torso. There are three key movements I want to mention:

  • Side tilts. In this movement, you smoothly tilt your torso to the right and left as much as you can, bending your body at your pelvis. Do a pause in between. Perform 10-15 reps to each side.
  • Front-to-back tilts. The same as with side tilts, but you tilt back and forth.
  • Pelvis rotation. In this movement, place your hands on your waist and perform circular movements with your pelvis in the horizontal plane. Some people try to keep their legs straight, but this isn’t mandatory. Perform 10-15 rotations clockwise and counterclockwise.

Again, do more than one set for each movement if necessary.

Leg warmup

Next is the leg warmup.

To warm up your legs, you can do a set of standard exercises starting with squats. Do squats in the range that’s comfortable for you – no need to squat ass-to-the-grass. Don’t push yourself to avoid overstretching or injuring anything.

The squat is the most effective exercise that you could do to warm up your entire leg muscles, so you could limit yourself to doing just a few sets of 10-15 reps. If you feel that it’s not enough, you may incorporate other exercises like leg press, lunges, or leg extensions.

Pull-ups & dips

To complete the warmup before training, perform two basic exercises – dips and pull-ups. For warming up, it is enough to do about 3 sets of 6-12 repetitions in each exercise.

For beginners, these two exercises can be difficult to do. Therefore, if you aren’t too fit, you may perform them in the range of motion that you can tackle. If you can only pull up half the way up, then do 6-12 reps of half pulls. The same applies to dips – don’t go too deep if you won’t be able to push yourself up.

At the initial stages, you may even jerk if that helps you with the exercise. But remember that your goal is to try to perform 6-12 clean reps in each exercise.

With these two exercises, you can finish the universal warmup and proceed to your core workout.

Final Words

Such a warmup will not take you much effort, but it should prepare your muscles for productive, effective, and high-quality training.

A universal warmup before training should last about 25-30 minutes. I must say right away that not everyone has the patience to do a quality warmup before training. But do not neglect your warmup. A good warmup will contribute to the quality of your training session, and it is the high-quality warmup that ultimately protects you from injuries and sprains during the training.

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