8 Warm-Up Exercises for Any Workout

8 Warm-Up Exercises for Any Workout

Just like stretching and proper hydration, warm-up exercises are a nonnegotiable part of any workout. You might be tempted to skip your warm-up exercises and jump right into rigorous activity. It feels like you’re saving time and maximizing your effort. But, by shortchanging your warm-up, you’re actually rendering your sweat session less effective and potentially increasing your risk for injury.

“Warming up fills your muscles, ligaments, and tendons with blood, your joints with synovial fluid, and your whole body with added oxygen,” explains Michael Julom, certified personal trainer. “All of these make moving easier and safer, especially under load.”

Julom recommends spending about 10 minutes on dynamic warm-up exercises at the beginning of a workout.

Warm-up exercises, he says, should focus on “warming up joints and muscles, but also on mobility, range of motion, and generally opening up every joint that will be used in the coming session. The rest of the session is for fatigue and overload; the warm-up is about getting comfortable moving.”

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Warm-Up Exercises Overview

Move through each of these warm-up exercises with purpose, but don’t rush. These warm-up exercises — a mix of dynamic stretches and calisthenics — take about 10 minutes to complete and are appropriate for most types of workouts. These moves require minimal space and zero equipment. You can do all of these warm-up exercises as part of your at-home workouts.

  1. Head rolls: 10 reps in each direction
  2. Arm swings: 20 reps
  3. Leg swings: 10 reps on each leg
  4. Side leg swings: 10 reps on each leg
  5. Hip circles: 10 reps in each direction
  6. Squats: 30 reps
  7. High knees: 30 reps on each leg
  8. Jumping jacks: 30 reps

1. Head Rolls

Reps: 10 in each direction.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  • Gently tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear toward your right shoulder.
  • Slowly roll your head back and to the left.
  • Continue to roll your head to the left and forward, bringing your left ear toward your left shoulder.
  • Gently roll your head forward, drawing your chin toward your chest. This is one rep.
  • Complete all reps in one direction before changing directions.

 

2. Arm Swings

Reps: 20

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.
  • With straight elbows, lift your arms out to the sides until they’re parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
  • Swing your arms forward so that they cross in front of your chest, then swing them back to the starting position. This is one rep.
  • Again, swing your arms forward and cross them in front of your chest, but make sure the opposite arm is on top.
  • Repeat the movement, alternating the position of your arms, until all reps are complete.

 

3. Leg Swings

Reps: 20 per leg.

  • Holding onto a sturdy chair, pole, or countertop, shift your weight to your left foot.
  • Keep your right leg straight as you swing your right foot forward and up as high as you can comfortably.
  • Keeping your right leg straight and your chest up, swing your right foot down and behind you. That’s one rep.
  • Complete all reps on one side before switching legs.

 

4. Side Leg Swings

Reps: 10 on each leg.

  • Holding onto a sturdy chair, pole, or countertop, shift your weight to your left foot.
  • Keep your right leg straight as you swing it out to the right and up as high as you can comfortably.
  • Swing your right leg down, allowing it to cross in front of your left leg. That’s one rep.
  • Complete all reps on one side before switching legs.

 

5. Hip Circles

Reps: 10 in each direction.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  • Slowly make a circular motion with your hips: push your hips to the right, then back, to the left, then forward.
  • Complete all reps in one direction before changing directions.

 

6. Squats

Reps: 30, or 3 sets of 10.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms at your sides, and your toes pointed forward.
  • Keeping your back flat and chest up, hinge at your hips, push your butt back, and bend your knees.
  • Lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Drive through your feet and return to a standing position.

 

7. High Knees

Reps: 30 on each leg.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Bend your arms at the elbows so that your forearms are parallel to the ground. Flip your hands so that your palms are facing down.
  • Shift your weight to your left foot and bring your right knee up as high as you can. Aim to hit your right palm with your knee.
  • Hop onto the right foot and bring the left knee up toward the left palm.
  • Continue to quickly hop from foot to foot, bringing alternating knees up to meet your palms.

 

8. Jumping Jacks

Reps: 30, or 3 sets of 10.

  • Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  • Simultaneously jump your feet wider than hip-width apart and swing your arms up and overhead.
  • As you bring your arms down to your sides, jump your feet back together.
  • Immediately move into the next rep.
Jenessa Connor

About

Jenessa Connor has written for Men’s Journal, Shape, Runner’s World, Oxygen and other health and fitness publications. When it comes to exercise, she’s a bit of a dabbler, but she always comes back to running, CrossFit and yoga. Follow her on Twitter.