Performing a thorough warm-up routine before your workout is crucial to improving overall strength, maximum performance and enhancing recovery. The warm-up contrary to some beliefs is not just a series of randomly performed exercises or movements, instead it should characterize a set of unilaterally performed movements effortlessly performed in a continuously flowing rhythmic pattern. The more you're able to flow through the set of warm-up exercises, the better prepared your muscle tissues will become for the comprehensive workout which lies ahead.
Having said that, depending on the level of fitness the time spent during the warm-up routine can be somewhat lessened to a fraction of what is normally recognized allowing more time to be spent actively training to improve the efficiency of the workout. We will look at how to perform a proper warm-up routine using a number of exercises aimed at targeting the lower body and core muscle groups by increasing mobility and boost stability.
Begin your lower body warm-up with 3 to 5 minutes of cardio activity or a calisthenic type of exercise such as torso twists, forward and backward kicks, reaching toe touches, or if you're up to it a full body exercise like jumping jacks. This should be enough to elevate your normal body core temperature allowing you to shift in gear for the range of warm-up exercises utilizing dynamic lower body movements including Lunge with a twist, Forward-and-Back Leg swings, and Overhead Squats with a towel.
Lunge with a Twist
The lunge with a twist is an excellent exercise dynamic stretching exercise to recruit your legs, hips and core muscles. Using a combination or two different moves: the first of which is a forward lunge to help stretch those hip flexors, engaging your gluteus, legs and hips, followed by a horizontal twist to stretch the upper and middle back activating core rotation. While performing the forward lunge, take a step forward and drop to your hips. Try not to lunge forward too far so that your knees extends beyond your toes. After completing the lunge, gradually twist to the side from which you are performing the lunge for a more extreme hip flexor stretch.
Forward-and-Back Leg Swings
Forward-and-Back leg Swings are generally used to warm-up and stretch the hip adductors, hip flexors, and hip extensions before performing the exercise workout.
▪ First stand with your right side next to a wall or other supporting object holding out your right arm at shoulder height to brace your body.
▪ Standing with both feet directly below the hips start by raising your left leg as high as you can in front of you keeping the leg lock and perfectly straight.
▪ Now you're going to swing your left leg behind you as far as you possibly can, still in locked and straight.
▪ Lower the leg back to the starting position to complete a single rep.
▪ Complete the specified number of reps and switch using your left arm to brace your body and your right leg to perform the swings.
Overhead Squats with a Towel
Overhead squats have been traditionally used as an effective warm-up exercise to reveal limitations within the body known to affect stiffness in the muscles, joints, and poor stability in the hips and torso in addition to a number of other known muscle imbalances.
▪ Begin the exercise by standing with both feet pointing forward and shoulder-width apart. Hold a towel about four feet long on top of your head with your elbows at an angle of 90 degrees. If you don't have a towel use your broomstick instead.
▪ Press the towel/broomstick over your head until your arms are fully extended.
▪ Perform the squat, lowering your body as much as possible keeping your heels on the floor, chest out, and the towel/broomstick still pressed overhead. At this point your knees should be aiming forward.
▪ Once you have reached your maximum squat, without rounding your back, elevate your body to an upright position.
When performing a proper warm-up routine, fitness beginners can make their dynamic warm-up easier by holding on to a stable pole or sturdy object when performing the exercise such as in the case of an assisted squat.