Warming up, working out, cooling down and resting are all equally important when it comes to preventing muscle injuries. Getting injured is painful physically, but it also does serious damage to your motivation and confidence. Thankfully, a few quick warmup exercises can help you stay injury-free.
Warming up before a workout acts like a signal to your muscles to “activate” as your core body temperature increases. This just means your muscles will be better prepared for the workouts ahead, which can help prevent you from straining or tearing something you shouldn’t.
Note: These are not “stretches.” DO NOT stretch before you workout–that’s what warmups are for!
1. RESISTANCE BAND ROTATIONS
Best performed before: Incline barbell presses
Muscle groups activated: Shoulders
How to do it: With arms at your sides, anchor a resistance band at elbow height. Bend your right arm 90 degrees at your elbow and stand next to the anchored band while holding it in your hand. Keep a rolled-up towel between your elbow and arm to hold it in place. Without moving your elbow or arm, rotate your hand toward your belly button. You should feel resistance from the band. Once you feel that, return to your starting position. Repeat this move, except stand with the band at your other side and rotate your hand outward instead of in toward your belly button. Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps on each arm.
2. WALKING KNEE GRABS
Best performed before: Deadlifts
Muscle groups activated: Hips, legs and glutes
How to do it: Keep your back straight. As you move to take a step forward, bring your knee up to your chest (or as close as you can get it), grab and hold it for several seconds while keeping the other leg straight as you balance on it. Repeat as you move to step forward with the opposite leg. Start with around 10 knee grabs on each leg.
3. RUNNING BUTT KICKS
Best performed before: Squats
Muscle groups activated: Quads
How to do it: As you run, bring your heels all the way back to your butt and then back down to the ground. Make sure your legs are going straight back, not sideways. Do this for 3 twenty-second rounds and take a 30-second break between each round.
4. ARM CIRCLES
Best performed before: Overhead presses
Muscle groups activated: Shoulders and pecs
How to do it: Stretch your arms outward (form a T with your arms out and feet slightly apart and stand up straight). Make big circular motions with your arms as low as your waist and as high as you can reach. Do 3 sets of circles, 10 in each set, before starting your workout.