Warming up before a strength session lubricates your joints and increases your body temperature — important preparation for making the most of your workout. In the long term, a good warm-up, performed consistently, can improve your posture, enhance performance, and prevent injury.
While these may sound like lofty goals, warming up to lift weights does not have to be a long or laborious process, says strength coach Tony Gentilcore, CPT, CSCS.
“There’s a ton of value in targeting problem areas that pretty much every human has,” Gentilcore says. The hip flexors, glutes, hip joints, and midback are good areas to focus on, because they’re all prone to stiffness and can be difficult to activate in exercise.
To mobilize and warm up these key spots in one compound move, Gentilcore recommends this Yoga Push-Up Complex.
Yoga Push-Up Complex
- Begin in a high plank position, with hands on the floor and core engaged.
- Press your hips up and back to assume a down-dog posture. Your arms will be straight (but not locked out), weight evenly distributed in your hands.
- Pedal your feet to open up the hamstrings, and then settle into the down-dog position by dropping your heels toward the floor.
- Step your left foot to the outside of your left hand so you’re in a high lunge. Keep your right hand planted on the floor and rotate from the midback to reach your left hand toward the ceiling.
- Return your hand to the floor and step back to the plank position. Repeat the entire complex on the right side. Alternate sides for five or six sequences per side.
Following this full-body flow, perform an exercise-specific warm-up by doing a few light sets of your main strength move of the day, says Gentilcore. Focus on excellent form and a full range of motion to get the feel for the movement and mentally prepare for tougher sets. For instance, if your workout includes barbell squats, perform sets of five reps with progressively heavier loads leading up to your work sets.
If you’re short on time, you can skip the full-body warm-up, he says, but don’t skimp on the exercise-specific warm-up. If you jump right into heavy working sets, you not only compromise your performance, but you also risk injury. Five minutes at the start of a workout will go a long way in keeping you safe and strong.