Warming up before you do stretching or exercise of any kind is very important. If you think of starting a car in the middle of winter, warming up makes a lot of sense. Heat helps move engine fluids throughout the vehicle in the same way it helps circulate oxygen and blood to your muscles. If you were to drive the car without warming it up, you might notice the car seems sluggish and not operating optimally. Your body is no different. When your muscles are cold, they can’t absorb shock as well, which can put you at risk for injury.
Most people know that they should warm up, but they typically tend to skip it anyway. Face it, jumping jacks, touching toes, and running in place aren’t very fun, nor do they feel very useful. Before you abandon the warm up yourself, try these fun ideas that just might be the highlight of your fitness routine.
Be Childlike: Remember the days of recess and playing in the backyard? Conjure up those days for the perfect ways to get your body moving.
- IGO/UGO Jump Rope: Working out with partner? Pair up for a jump rope warm up. The first person does 25 jump rope spins, then the other person repeats the same amount. Then 24…23…22…and so on until you get to one. It’s a lot of jump rope spins, but the breaks taken while the other person is jumping makes for perfect breathers.
- Hula Hoop: With just a little coordination, hula hooping will have you ready to exercise in no time. Work toward 50 rotations in each direction (or 100 in one direction if that’s all the skill you have). Or better yet, start a two-three minute song and hula hoop from start to finish.
- Hopscotch: For a perennial classic, draw a chalk line hopscotch board and hop it out like you did in the old days. Increase your coordination skills by rotating which feet you start on, and completing the board, forward, backward, and on each side.
[adrotate banner=”26″]Hops and Crawls: For this warm up, you’ll need an agility ladder (available at sporting stores). You could also mark the ground with chalk or tape in the shape of a ladder. Complete hopping in and out of the open squares with two-foot bunny hops, single-foot jumps, and two foot in and out jumps. At the end of each ladder, crawl back to the beginning in a bear crawl, crab crawl, or side plank walk–making sure to keep your knees/butt off the ground for all. Up the difficulty level by changing the direction of the hops and crawl, as well as which foot or hand you start with.
Make the Most of Music: One of the easiest ways to warm up is turn on some music and dance it out for a few minutes. But if that feels too silly, or busting a move just isn’t your thing, music can still be the basis for a good warm up. Rich Froning, the three-time individual’s men CrossFit Games winner tweeted in September 2013 about the “Bring Sally Up” Challenge. While this challenge was a workout using a weighted barbell, lightening the load to just body weight makes for an awesome warm up. To do it, you’ll need the song “Flower” by Moby, which is on the Gone in 60 Seconds soundtrack (but you can just as easily listen to a YouTube version as well). When the the lyrics “Bring Sally up” are sung, you stand up. At “Bring Sally down,” you move into a deep squat (or as low as you can go without pain). You hold each position, only moving when one of the lyrics cues you to do so. That means you will be staying in the squat position for seconds at a time. You can also use this song for push ups, sit ups, and many other exercises.
Warm ups don’t require much thought, but they should never be forgotten. Make them fun, and you just might enjoy them more than the workout you had planned.
What’s your favorite way to warm up?