How to Warm Up Before Exercising

Below is a video of what I call a “Dynamic Warm-up.”

What Is It?

The Dynamic Warm-up is a quick and gentle way to get the body ready to move. In just a couple minutes, we briefly use almost every muscle and every joint in the body from your neck down to your ankles.

Why Should I Do It?

Let me ask you this: When it’s below freezing outside and you go start your car, do you let it warm up for a minute or do you go immediately after starting? Most people probably let the car warm up a little. Cars run better when they’re warmed up.

You run better when you’re warmed up, too.

When your body is at rest, only about 20% of your total blood volume is in the muscles, the rest being in the organs. However, during exercise, as much as 80% of your blood is in the muscles. Warming up gives the body a chance to move the blood into your muscles where it can provide oxygen and nutrients and eliminate waste.

In the meantime, the movement also warms up the joints and lubricates them so they’re ready for action.

When Should I Do It?

The obvious time to do this is right before you exercise. I do it with everyone I work with and also do it myself before working out. In addition, you might want to do it:
  • In the morning to wake the body up. Don’t do it right away, though. Wait until about a half-hour after you get out of bed.
  • When you’ve been sitting and doing nothing for several hours.
  • After a long car or plane ride.
  • If you’re feeling drowsy and need a little boost.
Ok, now that you know a little more about the ideas behind the Dynamic Warm-up, let’s watch the video.

Note: As you watch you will probably notice that the warm-up seems very easy, and you may feel that it is too easy for you. Well it’s supposed to be easy. We’re just preparing the body for exercise, not trying to work it intensely. It does not need to be difficult to do the job.

(no sound)

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Safety Notice: You should not feel any pain when doing this. If you do feel pain, go slower and use a smaller range of motion. If there’s a certain range of motion that starts to feel painful, stop the movement before you get to that spot. Lastly, you can skip an exercise if you have to.

Things to notice:
  • Each movement is done smoothly, not fast and jerky. This should feel like a gentle warm-up.
  • Each movement is done about 5-10 times. You don’t have to count or be to regimented with this, just spend a little time on each movement.
I probably have about 50 different exercises like this that I do, but I typically just choose about 10, and that does the job.

Some Pointers

Here are some tips for each exercise.

Neck Up and Down – look up as high as you can and down as far as you can, from the ceiling to your shoes.

Shoulder Circles – Move the shoulders up, then back, then down, then forward in circular fashion. Think about getting the maximum range of motion. Can you go any higher or farther back?

Arm Swings Across – Arms should be straightened out and about chest level as you swing. Try to go back as far as you comfortably can.

Arm Swings Forward – Arms are straight again. Swing back behind your hips and then forward and up as high as you can go.

Wrist Circles – Bend arms to 90 degrees, elbows by your sides, and make the circles in front of you. Try to keep the arm still moving only the wrist joint. Do several and reverse directions.

Trunk Twists – Bend your arms to 90 degrees and rotate your spine, trying to look behind you, then twist all the way to the other side. I like to let my heels come off the ground as I rotate, like during a golf swing. Then it becomes a whole body twist.

Leg Swings Forward – Hold on to something sturdy and swing one leg forward like you’re kicking a ball, then swing back as far as you can. Most likely you’ll be able to go much farther forward than backwards.

Knee Bends – Hold on to something sturdy and bend one knee so the foot moves backwards off the ground. Then bring it back down and alternate between both feet. The thigh should not move, just the lower leg.

Ankle Circles – Hold on to something sturdy and shift most of your weight onto one foot. Bring the heel of the other foot off the ground so only the toe is touching. Then move the heel around in a circle. Do several and reverse. Then switch legs.

There you have it! We’ve just used almost every joint in the body in about 3 minutes.

Now it's your turn. Play the video again, but this time stand up and follow along.

Moving With Mike DVD

Follow Along at Home with Mike Through a Full Workout
  • Warm-up
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Posture
  • Coordination
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