Make Your Workouts Easier and More Effective with a Warm up - DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST
If you start every workout with a warm up for your body and mind - you will find that your workouts become easier, more enjoyable AND you'll take your fitness to a new level.
Every workout should begin with a five- to ten-minute warm-up. A warm-up is your time to limber up your body—and your mind—in preparation for the workout to come. It can be as simple as a walk or a jog.
My warm-ups combine breathing and posture exercises with joint lubrication exercises, followed by an environmental integration exercise I call “high toes.” I’ve also included a couple of “one-spot warm-up” exercises that are perfect for situations when you aren’t including a walk to your workout site as part of your warm-up.
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Starting with your lower body and moving upward, this series of gentle exercises will loosen your joints, releasing stiffness and tension. Standing on one leg, extend the other leg forward and circle your ankle to the right and then to the left. Take your time and use your full range of motion. Repeat the rotations twice more in each direction. Now do the other ankle. Moving upward to your knees, hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders, move each joint through its range of motion three times.
CARDIO WARM UP
A cardio warm-up is often part of the warm-up, which helps you get your heart rate up and gives you time to get to know the terrain around you—especially what you encounter underfoot. For example, you might begin with a fast walk using your high toes technique (see below), creating awareness of everything in your path. Feel for those stray pebbles, twigs, and cracks in the sidewalk, the dips and bumps in the road. Are you clearing rocks and roots that pop up on the trail smoothly and without tripping?
As you become more comfortable with the terrain, you may want to bump up your speed by pumping your arms to set the tempo of your feet. After a couple of minutes, you should be at an RPE of 4 to 5. Keep bumping up your pace gradually until you reach an RPE of 6 to 7 and continue for a few more minutes. As you reach your destination, you’ll want to walk it out for thirty seconds or so, bringing your RPE down to a 5 or 6.
At the end of your workout, I often suggest a cardio cool down to gradually bring your heart rate down before you do your stretching. Examples of this would be a slow jog or a fast walk.
HEEL-TOE ROLL AND HIGH TOES
Two techniques that I teach my clients right away are the heel-toe roll and high toes. When you use a heel-toe roll, you hit the ground heel first, roll through your foot to your toes, and use your toes to propel you forward. A great way to get the feeling for this is to imagine your feet to be like tires of a car, rolling over the terrain.
With high toes, you keep your toes up as your feet skim the ground to prevent tripping over obstacles in your path. Imagine that there is air running between your feet and the ground, you are just floating above the terrain.
Both these techniques help build kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness in your feet—and enable you to feel through your feet.
While technically you don’t have to stretch during your warm-up session, I usually recommend that you include the “four basics”—hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. If lunges are part of your workout, include the adductor (inner thigh) as your fifth stretch.
HIGH KNEES - (SEE VIDEO ON THE HOMEPAGE)
Next, let’s loosen your hips and engage your core with high knees. This warm-up exercise will also get your heart pumping a little faster and ready to move into your workout.
• Take an athletic stance and set your posture: Engage your center of mass by lifting your ribs up and away from your hips, chest open, eyes forward, and chin up. Keep your arms extended in front of you between chest and navel height.
• Begin by marching in place. Lift your knees up and away in front your body, making contact with your hands and creating a reverse curl in the lower abdominal wall. Keep your hips even and square with your shoulders as you march. Feel your abdominal wall begin to engage. Extend height. Keep your ribs lifted as you continue to lift and lower your knees up to your hands, palms down, bringing your knees up to touch your palms.
• After about twenty to thirty seconds, begin to lift your knees more diagonally and out toward the sides for a count of ten. After ten, gradually bring your knees back to center and your original position. As you become stronger and more flexible, you can lift both your hands and your knees higher.