During a workout we can all go from zero to hero and push hard but the safe way to train is to bring the body’s temperature up slowly and loosen up the muscles before we get to do anything serious. That’s what warm-ups are designed to do. Stretching, on the other hand, is done in order to improve overall flexibility. Once muscles have worked they are at their most compliant state and they let us stretch further than we normally would gaining more ground while we are at it.

When you’re eager to work out, the last thing you want to do is slow your roll with a long warmup that has you flopping around the floor like a fish, draining your momentum. If you passed fifth grade P.E., you’ve already had it drilled into you that warming up is crucial and not to be skipped, so I’ll spare you the speech about how important it is. Instead of lecturing, I’ll give you some warmup options that get you sweating and ready to perform any of the workouts that follow, but also fit into the time you have and your level of patience—whatever the case may be. Most important is that you don’t start lifting heavy weights, jumping, or running totally cold, which common sense should tell you is an injury waiting to happen.

When life is crazy and you're insanely busy (so like, all day every day), it's tempting to jump right into your workout to maximize the time you've got. But when you skip a warm-up and just go from 0 to 60, you're setting your body up to be less efficient—and potentially end up with an injury.

Please bear in mind that the routines listed below are for the more active amongst us. If you're suffering from an injury or recuperating from an illness then maybe a stroll in the park or have a go on some of the excellent outdoor fitness equipment that you see in parks and outdoor spaces around the world.

So, without further ado - lets take a look at those warm up exercises:

Foam Rolling

If you have at least an hour in which to train, or a history of injuries that could otherwise impede your ability to train safely, your warmup should begin with foam rolling and include a wide array of dynamic exercises and static stretches.

If you’ve tried a foam roller after a tough workout, you were instantly aware of its ability to help relieve muscle aches and soreness. It also provides an easy way to start getting warmed up, as it promotes blood flow. Rest your muscles on the roller (a tennis ball, softball, or lacrosse ball work, too) and roll them out for about 30 seconds each. When you find a tender spot, hold the position until you feel it begin to release (or for as long as you can stand it). Pay extra attention to the hips, glutes, outer and inner thighs, lower back, calves, and lats. You can repeat the rolling after your workout as well if you like, as this may enhance recovery.

Light Activity

Perform some light activity that elevates your heart rate and makes you feel warm (though not necessarily fuzzy). This could be a set of 30 jumping jacks, a five-minute walk on the treadmill (set to a slight incline), or a minute or two of jumping rope. Other cardio machines like a stationary bike or an elliptical machine can also get your blood flowing.

Dynamic Warmup

Now you’ll begin what’s often called a dynamic warmup. In addition to encouraging further blood flow and higher body temperature, dynamic exercises take your muscles through the ranges of motion you’ll use in your workout, preparing you to get into those positions safely. There are endless options, but try this routine.

Shoulder over back

Hold a band, dowel, yardstick, or light bar in front of your hips with hands outside shoulder width. Keeping your elbows straight, raise your arms overhead and behind your body as far as you can. Bring them back in front of you again. Continue going over and back and gradually narrow your grip as you feel your shoulders loosen up.

Hip Hinge

Place your hands on your hips and stand with feet hip width. Push your hips back, bending your knees only as needed, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Squeeze your glutes as you forcefully push your hips forward again to stand up straight.

Overhead squat

Hold a band, dowel, yardstick, or light bar overhead with hands outside shoulder width. Stand with feet shoulder width and toes turned out slightly. Bend your hips back and squat as low as you can without letting your tailbone tuck under. Keep the object you’re holding above and slightly behind your head the whole time—don’t let it drift in front of you.

Side Lunge

Stand with feet hip width and step out to your left. Lower your body until your left knee is bent 90 degrees, or until you feel a stretch in the right side of your groin, but keep your right leg straight. Repeat on the right side.

Final Words

Remember to always warm up properly before exercising to prevent injury and make your workouts more effective. Warming up takes minutes and brings with it a host of benefits. It is, in short, vital to squeeze in five to ten minutes of prep before your workout, no matter how short on time you are. It’s better to warm up properly and do two excellent sets than rush through three poor ones because you start cold, risking injury along the way.

Warmups are critical to a better performance and fewer injuries but stretching is somewhat of an optional extra - we can do it, we should do it but not doing it will not cause any issues, most times. It is highly recommended nonetheless.

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