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Warming Up & Down

What are the best ways to warm-up before a workout?

The first and most important thing to remember is that you need to treat your warm-up as seriously as you do the rest of your exercise routine. It’s just not enough to do a quick stretch or half-heartedly jog on the treadmill for a minute or two. Your warm-up protects you from injury, and also sets the tone for the workout ahead. The point of the warm-up is to get your muscles warm and all your body’s major joints mobilised.

Start with some gentle bending, extending and circling movements, this will bring your neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees and ankles – as well as your waist – into play. After this, a couple of minutes walking, or jogging if you prefer, at a steady pace will get your circulation going. Then it’s time to move onto stretching your muscles. When it comes to stretching it’s vital that you do it right. If you’re at a gym, it might be worth talking to one of the trainers to see if your warm-up is up to scratch.

So-called ‘dynamic stretches’ will boost the performance of your muscles and to get that benefit you need to actively move through a full range of motion. So stretch to the point at which you feel tension and a slight pulling sensation in the muscle, but don’t go far enough that you feel pain. Hold this position until a ‘stress-relaxation’ response occurs and the force on the muscle decreases. Then increase the stretch if you can, and continue to hold. A stretch needs to last for 15 to 30 seconds to improve flexibility and you need to repeat each one of them at least twice.

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