Warming up before a workout is like watching previews at a movie theater: Some people love it while others literally can’t wait to get to the feature presentation. But it’s important–however tempting–not to skip a warm-up. A proper pre-game routine helps maximize efficiency and decrease the risk of injuries by loosening and warming up your muscles, getting them primed for action. It does the same for your joints.
If you think that stretching and running are your only options, think again. Here are some other warm-up exercises to keep your interest and get you pumped properly.
Forget the playground. The jump rope is possibly the greatest workout ally you don’t utilize. Five minutes of mild to brisk jump rope gets your heart going and your blood circulating. It can also help improve coordination and balance. You might be surprised at how quickly you get tripped up, at first, if you haven’t jumped rope since childhood. If you find five minutes too difficult, do what you can in intervals, cutting your down time gradually after a few workouts.
Another middle school gym favorite that makes for a great warmup. Jumping jacks don’t just get the blood moving–they also work your core, arms, and legs for a total-body and equipment-free session.
We’re not talking a full one-hour session. A few Sun Salutations do nicely. This routine slowly wakes up your heart rate and muscles and increases flexibility. It’s useful before pretty much any type of workout, from lifting weights to kickboxing.
The Dynamic Warmup
The most, well, dynamic of all. Generally speaking, the dynamic warmup is a series of exercises strung together and designed to move and stretch a variety of muscle groups. Lunges, pushups, body-weight squats, and even some of the above can be included for a fast and all-encompassing routine. With this option, you’re never doing to the same thing for very long, so it’s harder to get bored. Here are two sample routines from Men’s Fitness and Nerdfitness.com.
There’s also nothing wrong, of course, with a little jogging. But with other warm-up exercises to choose from, you can keep things varied and ensure that you never skip this important part of your workout.