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How To Warm Up

Updated on May 23, 2015

Warming up before physical activity should be considered an essential part of an athletic preparation whether you are just an average person trying to get fit, lose weight, build muscle or a professional athlete training for the next Olympics.

  • Performing a proper warm-up before athletic training or performance has a number of benefits these include
  • Improving Performance – warmer muscles can contract harder and faster than colder muscles
  • Improving Mobility – range of motion around joints is increased from joint lubrication
  • Preventing Injuries – warmer muscles have better muscle elasticity, which reduces the likelihood of muscle strains and tears
  • Physical and Mental Preparation – your body produces hormones that regulate and allow for more efficient energy production and it also gives you a chance to mentally prepare for your training, game or event – whether that be reviewing your plan or strategy, visualising the outcome, focusing on what you want to achieve or clearing your mind of distracting thoughts.

Here are some examples of warm-ups:

General Warm-Up

This general warm-up is great preparation before any physical activity whether it be sports, cardiovascular training, weight training, dancing etc.

Many of the exercises are listed here.

Foam Rolling (5-10 rolls) for the major muscle groups such as quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors, ITB, glutes, calves, pereoneals, lats, pectorals etc.


Static stretching (10 seconds per muscle group) of the major muscle groups such as hip flexors, quadriceps, calves, adductors, ITB/TFL, hamstrings, pectorals, lats etc.

Thoracic Mobility (pick 2-3 of the following)

  • Thoracic Extension with Foam Roller or PVC pipe x 10
  • Quadraped Thoracic Mobility x 10 per side
  • Side Lying Rotations x 10 per side

Hip Mobility (pick 2-3 of the following)

  • Leg Swings (back and forward) x 10
  • Leg Swings (side to side) x 10
  • Warrior Lunge with a twist x 6 per side
  • Walking Spiderman x20m
  • Lateral or Rotational Squats x 10 per side

Ankle Mobility (pick 2 of the following)

  • Self Ankle Mobilisations x 10
  • Pike Calf Stretch x10

Core Activation (pick 2-3)

  • Dead Bugs x10
  • Prone Bridges x10
  • Side Bridges x 10
  • Front Plate Squats x10
  • Band or Cable Paloff Presses x10

Scapular Stabilizer Activation (pick 2-3 of the following)

  • Wall Slides x10
  • Push Up Plus x20
  • YTLW x10
  • Band Pull Aparts x10
  • Band Face Pulls x10

Glute Activation (pick 3-4 of the following)

  • Supine Glute Bridges x 10
  • Side Lying Clams x 10 per side
  • Bird Dogs x 8 per side
  • Fire Hydrants x 8 per side
  • Kneeling Squats x10
  • Bowler Squats x8 per side
  • X-band walks x10 steps per side

Weight Training Warm-Up

After performing a general warm-up, such as the one listed above, you will need to perform a specific warm-up for whatever exercise you are performing e.g. deadlifts, squats, bench press etc.

Key pointers to remember are:

  • Start with either an empty bar or approximately 40% of your 1RM and increase the weight by 15-30kg per warm-up set till you reach the weight you are going to use for your work sets
  • Stay under 6 reps for warm-up sets (the goal is to get the CNS firing and the muscles prepared for heavier weights, you do not want to induce unnecessary muscular fatigue before your work sets)

An example of a deadlift warm-up assuming we are going to perform 3 sets of 5 reps @ 200kg for our work set:

Warm-Up Sets

  • 80kg x 5 (rest 1 minute)
  • 100kg x 3 (rest 1 minute)
  • 125kg x 3 (rest 1.5 minute)
  • 150kg x 2 (rest 1.5 minutes)
  • 175kg x 2 (rest 2 minutes)
  • 190kg x 2 (rest 2 minutes)

Work Sets

  • 3 x 200kg x 5 (rest 3-5 minutes)

Running or Sprint Training Warm-Up

After performing a general ground based warm-up such as the one above, if you are performing some kind of sprinting or running during your training or sports event, it is recommended you perform a more running specific warm-up before commencing your training or event:

  • Walking Lunge x20m
  • Side Skips x20m
  • Backward Run x20m
  • Carioca x20m
  • Butt Kicks x20m
  • Straight Leg Kicks x 20m
  • Running A’s x20m
  • Running B’s x20m
  • 4x Sprint Build Ups over 20m with walk back recoveries @ 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% intensity

Then rest (active rest such as walking is preferable) for 2-4 minutes before commencing training.

Plyometrics Training Warm-Up

After performing a general warm-up, such as the one listed above, perform 2-3 of the below exercises:

  • Ricochet Jumps x 10 (rest 1 minute)
  • Slalom Jumps x 20 (rest 1 minute)
  • Ankle Jumps x 10 (rest 1 minute)
  • Rhythmic Squat Jumps x 10 (rest 1 minute)
  • Jump Rope x 45-60 seconds (rest 1 minute)

For information about vertical jump training check out Vertical Jump - How To Jump Higher

For information about endurance training to improve stamina for sports check out Improve Your Endurance for Sport

For home and office workout ideas check out Office and Home Fitness Workouts

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