When attending the gym, the most eager of us like to jump straight onto our favourite machines and get started without first warming up. This is a crucial step to a successful workout and should never be skipped, as this could result in injury. It is essential to warm up to help you mentally and physically prepare for any strenuous exercise.
For new starters, the gym can sometimes feel quite intimidating and the array of equipment that can be used for warming up may be overwhelming. If you’re unsure about where to start or why you should warm up at the gym, our guide will help you to understand the benefits of warming up, as well as provide some warm-up exercises that you can easily do at the gym.
Not everyone enjoys the warm-up element of a workout, especially those on a tight schedule. However, it is important to incorporate at least 10-15 minutes of warming up time into your workout to reduce the risk of injury and enhance your performance output.
A gym warm up increases your heart rate and blood flow, which helps to provide more oxygen to the muscles allowing them to contract and relax more easily. Additionally, an increased heart rate means less strain on your heart during strenuous exercise. Practising dynamic stretching in your warm-up routine will also give you a wider range of movement during your workout, elevating your performance and preventing any aches, strains, and injuries.
There are three types of warming up exercises that each serve a different purpose. The first is cardio based exercises to increase blood flow and heart rate. The second is dynamic movement that opens muscles and joints, strengthens posture and prepares you for the full range of movements during strenuous exercises. The third is static stretching, which targets flexibility by keeping your body in positions that are not usually held for extended periods.
It is a good idea to incorporate exercises that cover all three of these areas to fully prepare you for a successful workout session.
There are plenty of exercises you can do at the gym, including cardio warm up exercises, dynamic stretching, and flexibility training. If you’re unsure where to start, follow the five simple exercises below to assist you, all of which are suited for any type of workout, whether you prefer cardio or strength training. Once you’ve established a gym routine, you can alter these warm up exercises to suit your personal training needs. None of the below exercises requires the use of a machine so can be done without waiting around until one becomes free.
To start getting warmed up, a brisk walk into a light jog is an excellent way to increase your heartbeat without any strain. Start slowly and build yourself up, you can do this by adjusting the speed on the treadmill. Alternatively, if the machines are in use you can try jogging on the spot. Aim to do this exercise for at least two minutes before moving on to another, or do this at the end of your warm-up if you plan to utilise the treadmill for cardio-based training.
Entering a lunge position with either your knee on the floor or your back leg straightened, push your hips forward until you feel the stretch in your upper back leg and hip. Make sure to keep your back straight whilst doing this, and aim to keep the position for 30-60 seconds on each leg.
Before undertaking this one, make sure that you have enough space on the gym floor. Stand up straight with your arms fully stretched out at either side. Rotate your arms starting with small circles, before moving into larger circled movements. Make sure that you do this both ways to increase your range of motion and prepare your shoulders, back and arms for your workout.
If you feel as though your heart rate isn’t increased enough, jumping jack squats are an easy way to warm up and get your blood flowing. Start off by performing a jumping jack, and when you bring your legs back toward the centre, perform a squat. Once you’re stood back up straight, do a jumping jack. Repeat this process as many times as you need at your desired pace.
Head or neck rolls are often forgotten about in a workout as they are so easy to do. Simply stand straight with your hands at your sides and roll your head slowly in two to three circles each way. This is a particularly important warm-up exercise for workouts revolving around weight lifting and flexibility.
Most gyms will offer a wide variety of equipment for you to use. If you feel more comfortable on a machine, you may wish to use the stairmaster at a low intensity to replace jogging. Alternatively, your gym may offer equipment such as yoga blocks and resistance bands to assist you on the gym floor. Here are some ideas for using this equipment in your warm up exercises.
Resistance bands are highly versatile and are used to improve your flexibility, range of motion, and can be used in cardio training too. Instead of squats, you can try a crab walk. This involves placing both feet through a short length band and placing it around your thighs, bending your knees and stepping to the side. This should be done in both directions, and the band should be under tension throughout the exercise.
Alternatively, you may wish to use a band to improve your stretches. Replace arm circles with shoulder circles by grabbing the ends of the band in each hand, stretching your arms out to the side and raising it over your head and behind you.
Yoga blocks are ideal for those wanting to improve their flexibility and include dynamic stretching in their warm up. They can be used as aids to support you in difficult movements. Try using them to do leg raises. Sitting on the floor with your legs and feet in a v shape, place the blocks a short distance away from your inner ankles. Keep your legs as straight as possible and move your leg over the block to the other side, and back again. Do this one leg at a time, and stand the block on its side to increase height.
It is a well-known fact that warming up enhances your workout, and it should never be skipped. However, because one of the main purposes of warming up is to increase your flexibility, it is important to use the right equipment. This is especially true for those practising dynamic stretching and callisthenics. To ensure comfort and avoid any mishaps we highly recommend supplementing your workout with specially designed performance gear such as stretchy leggings, track pants, and breathable tops. It is also essential that you wear the right footwear, as slipping during a dynamic stretch or whilst on a treadmill could cause a nasty injury.
Getting started on your fitness journey can be the hardest part, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you’re off to the best start. Make sure that you have the correct workout gear, including athletic clothing and a sports water bottle.
If you’re in need of a full workout regime to get you started at the gym, you might want to check out our training routine guide. Whatever you need to get started, find it at Avec Sport.