How to Warm Up Properly and Avoid Injury

Getting hurt sucks!

We exercise to lose weight, build muscle, and feel better about
ourselves, right?

Well, it’s pretty tough to do any of those things lying on a
couch with a pulled hamstring/groin/face.

Okay you can’t pull your face, but I’m trying to prove a
point here so shut it. 

Every day I cringe as I watch people wander into a gym,
immediately lie down on a bench, and start cranking out their
workout with a heavyweight within seconds.

These are the people that end up hurting themselves and missing
weeks/months due to ignorance/apathy.

Joke time: Which is worse, ignorance or apathy?

Don’t know, don’t care! ZING!

Luckily, you’re smarter than the average bear, which
is why you’re reading Nerd Fitness.

Today, you’re gonna learn all about the importance of warming
up BEFORE every workout. On top of that, I’ll even teach you HOW
to warm up.

My guess is that you’re warming up because you want to make
sure you don’t injure yourself while training.

In addition to warming-up, there’s another key component to
injury prevention: doing the exercises correctly and having a good
plan to follow!

If you’re not sure how to strength training yet, or you’re
looking to start with bodyweight training and graduate to weight
training, I’m here for ya!

We made this massive free guide that covers all of this in-depth
so you have all the answers and confidence you need to get
started.

Check out our free guide Strength Training 101:
Everything You Need to Know
when you sign up in the box
below and join the Rebellion!

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!
  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
I identify as a:

Woman
Man

Why warm up?

Above all else, the most important thing you can do when
working out is warming up properly.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Come on.  Surely
it’s not the MOST important thing…”

To which I’d reply: “First, don’t call me Shirley. 
Secondly, if you don’t have enough time to warm up, then you
don’t have enough time to work out.”

Boom!

So WHY is it so important? 

Think of your muscles like rubber bands.

If you spend all day sitting at a desk, hunched over a keyboard,
those rubber bands have gone almost completely unused. Now, combine
this lack of movement with some cold winter weather – your bands
are now extra tight and constricted. Then, go to a gym and
immediately start lifting heavy weights or sprinting really fast
– those cold, unstretched rubber bands get pulled apart very
quickly and will snap.

#Fail.

So, what about just regular, static stretching
then?
Unfortunately, just doing static stretching before a
workout can overextend those muscles and actually rob them of the
power and strength necessary for your actual workout. 
#failagain

For that reason, dynamic warm-ups are the
winner!

Think of it like a pregaming for your muscles
– except replace “alcohol” with “awesome.”  By jumping
around and getting your muscles loose, active, warm, and ready for
action, you will keep yourself strong and injury free.

On top of that, doing a dynamic warm-up can help
activate your central nervous system
, priming your muscles
for a great workout that produces your best effort.

Add “improved blood circulation” to the list of
benefits of warming up,
which will help you perform well
in each exercise.

Need another reason? When your body is
properly warmed up, your muscles and joints are ready for maximum
flexibility, which means you can perform each exercise with PROPER
form (like deep squats, for example) that maximize results and
minimize the risk of injury.

So, whether you are
running
or strength
training
…a proper warm-up is probably the most important 5-10
minutes of your day. 

Still with me? 

Good. Let’s take you through my favorite warm up.

The Dynamic Warm Up

Now, this warmup video I have below is relatively
advanced, so you might need to make adjustments to suit your level
of fitness.

In fact, this particular warm-up might be more difficult than
your actual workout, especially if you’re following something
like
The Beginner Bodyweight Workout
.

THAT’S OKAY (I put a second example that’s easier
below!)

Do what you can, adjust the exercises in this warm up so you can
complete it, and go from there. See the next section for some
suggestions on how to scale this warm-up to your level.

Here is this warm-up written out:

  • 2-3 minutes of jump rope (who cares if you
    mess up, push yourself!)
  • 50 jumping jacks (pull your shoulder blades
    back, extend arms and really focus on the movement)
  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 5 lunges (each leg)
  • 10 hip extensions
  • 5 hip rotations each leg (like you’re
    stepping over a fence)
  • 10 forward leg swings (each leg)
  • 10 side leg swings (each leg)
  • 10-20 push-ups (scale based on your level of
    fitness)
  • 10 spider-man steps (each leg)

Yes, there is a lot of work put on your hips, butt, legs, and
core. As nerds/desk jockeys, these tend to be the muscles that are
the tighest and least active, and thus most susceptible to an
injury.

If your arms and chest are particularly tight or sore,
you can throw two more movements as well: 

  • Arm swings (holding your arms straight out to
    the side, and then swing them and cross them in front of your
    chest)
  • Shoulder rotations (holding your arms straight
    out to the side, and move your arms in a circular motion, making
    bigger circles each time)

When it comes time for your workout, if you are doing heavy
strength training (with barbells or dumbbells), make sure you do
some warm-up sets before jumping into the weight you’ll be
training with for EACH EXERCISE. Always start with a set using just
the bar to work on your form and get your body used to the
movement.

Then, do a few sets of just a few reps with increasing weight
(but won’t tire you out) and THEN start your workout.

The BEginner Warm Up: Variations

Here are some other options for warming up if the above
seems too daunting:

The above video comes from Senior Female Coach Staci Ardison,

whose success story is here
(and she’s now a lead trainer in
our NF Coaching
Program
)

Don’t overthink this: Your goal is to
elevate your heart rate, put your muscles and joints through their
range of motion to warm them up and make sure everything is
functioning properly, and preparing your body to strength
train!

So, marching in place while swinging your arms. High knees. Toe
touches. Leg swings. Punches and kicks. Get your limbs moving!

This will get you prepped for a day of getting
stronger
.

If you read the above paragraph and thought “Yes I am doing
strength training, please tell me more Steve! More!” Firstly,
thanks for saying please – your mom taught you well. Next: we
created a guide that answers all of the questions you might have
about strength training, weight training, training in a gym, how
much weight to lift, and how much to warm up with.

You’re a nice person, so I’ll send it to you fo free! Simply
join our Rebellion by signing up in the box below and I’ll send
you Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to
Know
so you can train worry free starting today!

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!
  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
I identify as a:

Woman
Man

To answer your first few questions…

What if I don’t have a jump rope? Suck it up
and go buy one! They’re dirt cheap, and a helluva way to start
off any warm-up. Yeah, you might have crappy coordination, and you
could even end up with bruised shins (and a bruised ego) to start
out. Stick with it, improve your coordination, and get your body
primed in just a few minutes.

Steve, I can’t do jumping jacks/I live on the second
floor.
 Now, if you happen to be pretty overweight or live
on the upper floor of an apartment building, then jumping jacks
might not be an option for you. That’s okay – the reason I love
jumping jacks is that they work out all four of your limbs at once
and get you bouncing around. So instead, channel your inner Chuck
Norris and do punches and kicks with each leg. I don’t care if
you can’t kick higher than your shins and your punch wouldn’t
kill a fly…just get those limbs flailing and warmed up!

Um, your warm-up is tougher than my actual
workout! 
The dynamic warm-up above is designed for people
who are doing serious training. If you are doing heavy
deadlifts
and
squats
and
overhead presses
, a proper warm-up could keep you out of a
career-ending injury. However, if you are just getting started with
exercise and you’re only doing
bodyweight exercises
, obviously 20 real push-ups during your
workout isn’t possible…

THAT’S OKAY. Think of the above as the
warm-up you aspire to complete. In the meantime, do the best you
can. Let’s say:

  • Jump rope for 30 seconds
  • 20 leg swings and arm circles
  • 10 squats
  • 5 lunges
  • 5 elevated push-ups
    or 5 wall push-ups

Follow the rest of the routine as planned if possible.

In this routine, your warm-up will act as part of your
workout, as you’ll be doing the same functional
movements.
 Do the BEST you can, keep
track of your results for your warm up too
, and improve with
each workout.  With enough consistency and persistency (not a
word, but rhymed better and sounded way better than persistence),
you’ll be busting out the full warm-up routine before kicking ass
at your actual workout!

Any more brain busters?

Hopefully, this is a post you bookmark, as it’s
probably one of the more important ones I’ve ever
written.

What other questions can I answer for you about warming up
properly?

I’m here to help!

Also, if you made it this far, I have a hunch you’ll
love our free, massive guide on all things strength: Strength
Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. 
If you’re
worried about any aspect of strength training, this guide will
cover it and give you the confidence to get started:

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!
  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
I identify as a:

Woman
Man

-Steve

PS: What should you do after your workout?
Stretch!

###

All photo sources can be found right here.[1]

Footnotes    ( returns to text)


  1. Hook
    , Resolutions,

    Happytrooper
    Sunday,
    Decathlon.

Source: FS – All-FitnessBlogs
How to Warm Up Properly and Avoid Injury