The Most Effective Warm-Up

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The Most Effective Warm-Up

March 27, 2014

The most limited resource we have is time—there never seems to be enough of it to do the things we want to do, let along to do the things we need to do like regular exercise. An effective exercise program should provide the greatest amount of benefits in the shortest amount of time possible. The recent trend of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one way to achieve this outcome. Another is through circuit training, which involves performing a series of exercises in a row with little-to-no rest in between. Whether you are focused on a short, high-intensity workout or following a longer, traditional exercise program, the most important component is a complete, total-body warm-up.

When doing your warm-up, start with two to four core exercises and then progress to two to four bodyweight exercises, which integrate actions of the hips and shoulders by moving the body in a variety of directions. If time is an issue, doing two sets of two core and two bodyweight-movement exercises can provide an effective way to start. However, doing a couple of more sets of exercises will help ensure the body is completely warmed up and ready to go. Try this total-body warm-up circuit, which can be used to properly prepare your body for your favorite physical activity:

Hip bridge

Hip Bridge

This exercise increases activity in your glutes while providing an effective stretch for the hips and low back. Perform two sets of 10-12 reps with 30 seconds of rest in between.

Bird-dog

Bird-dog

This exercise requires stabilization of the spine while the arms and legs are moving, which is great for both upper- and lower-body workouts. Perform two sets of 10-12 reps with 30 seconds of rest in between.

Plank

Plank

This is great for engaging the muscles responsible for stabilizing the lumbar spine and shoulders. Hold for 20-45 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat.

Side-plank

Side plank

Tis exercise engages the muscles responsible for lateral core stability and stabilizing the shoulder. Hold for 20-45 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

Side lunge

Side lunge

Not only is this an effective warm-up exercise, it’s also great for developing muscles in the hips and outer thighs. Doing side lunges in the warm-up sneaks in an opportunity for some extra leg work, which is never a bad thing. Perform 12-15 repetitions on each side, rest for 45 seconds, and repeat for a second set.

Push-ups

Push ups

This is an essential warm-up exercise for upper-body strength-training days. Perform two sets of 6-10 reps with 45 seconds of rest in between each set; modify as necessary.

Bodyweight squats

Bodyweight squat

This is a great warm-up finisher. Keep the chest up high, sink back into the hips and press your feet into the ground to return to standing. Perform two sets of 12-15 reps with 45 seconds of rest in between each set.

These exercises gradually increase in intensity and progress from stabilization to movement. Once you learn this routine, it can be an effective warm-up for resistance training or, if you're traveling and don't have access to equipment, you can turn it into a total-body workout by adding a couple of more reps and sets to each exercises.

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