What did you do for a warmup the last time you went to the gym? Be honest. Were you the person who did a couple half-hearted arm swings and toe touches before hitting the weights? Or do you feel like you need to stretch and foam roll every muscle in your body before getting under the bar?
Neither scenario is ideal. As with many things in life, the answer is somewhere in the middle. You don’t want your warmup to be too short or too long. All you need is 5 minutes if you choose the right exercises.
An optimal warmup raises your core temperature, mobilizes stiff joints and gets your body and mind ready for your workout. We’ve created a blueprint to help you design your own warmup that can be done in 5 minutes or less so you can get onto the fun stuff.
STEP 1: FOAM ROLL
Foam rolling before a workout can improve blood flow, increase range of motion and reduce muscle soreness. Just 30–60 seconds of rolling a few stiff muscle groups can make all the difference between feeling rusty and feeling ready.
Pick four main areas and give them some love with a foam roller. It’s best to pick two upper-body areas (such as your upper back and lats) and two lower-body areas (like your quads and glutes) to make sure you’re ready for any full-body exercises requiring solid mobility of the shoulders and hips.
STEP 2: WARM UP YOUR HIPS
Next, pick your favorite hip-mobility drill that dynamically stretches the glutes, adductors (groin muscles) and/or hip flexors and do it for 8–10 reps per side.
If you sit at a desk all day, your hip flexors are probably tight. Try the wall hip flexor mobilization to loosen your hip flexors. If you’re on your feet all the time, give your glutes a stretch with the alternating kneeling glute mobilization.
STEP 3: WARM UP YOUR SHOULDERS
Once your hips are loose, it’s time to work on your shoulders. We want something that opens the chest and rotates the upper body to help get into better position for exercises like pushups, pullups and overhead presses.
Anything that gets the arms overhead and the shoulders rotating is a great choice. Start with the quadruped extension rotation, and once you’ve mastered that, progress to bent-over T-spine rotations. Perform each drill for 8–10 reps per side.
STEP 4: MOVE IN THREE DIMENSIONS
Now that we’ve stretched and opened the hips and shoulders, it’s time to add some three-dimensional movements to work on coordination and mobility. Choose a drill that combines movements in the sagittal plane (front-to-back), frontal plane (side-to-side) and transverse plane (rotational) so your body is ready for anything.
Here are two favorites: the walking spiderman and the alternating lateral lunge. They provide dynamic stretches for the entire body in all three movements planes. Perform one of these (or a similar exercise) for five reps per side.
STEP 5: GET FIRED UP
You’re one step away from your main workout, and now it’s time to bridge the gap with an exercise that fires up your nervous system and gets you ready for the hard work ahead.
We like explosive full-body exercises like kettlebell swings and med ball slams because they “wake up” your brain and train your body for power, an oft-neglected fitness quality. Perform two quick sets of 8–10 reps with a short rest between each set.
THE BLUEPRINT WARMUP
To review, pick your favorite warmup drill from each of these five categories:
- Foam rolling (4 body parts for 30–60 seconds)
- Hip mobility (8–10 reps per side)
- Shoulder mobility (8–10 reps per side)
- “3-D” mobility exercise (5 reps per side)
- “Wake-up” exercise (2 sets of 8–10 reps, 10–20 seconds rest)
With a routine this simple and effective, there’s no excuse for skipping your warmup.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT