Your Complete Guide to Warming Up for a Workout

Warm up exercises are a crucial part of every workout routine – that is, if you don’t want to start screaming in pain because your muscles are dying. Working out before doing some good warm up exercises may lead to serious injury, so you may want to make sure that you never skip this step.

This article will tell you why you should never skip your warm up routines and how you can do some correct pre workout stretches that will make it easier for you to go through your exercises.

Why Do We Need to Warm Up Before Exercising?

Is it warm up or warm-up? It doesn’t really matter, although many people use the latter version. All that matters is the effect. A quick warmup will prepare your body for the following workout, improving your performance and therefore reducing your risk of getting injured.

Here are some reasons why warming up before exercising is crucial:

  • It improves your joint lubrication, making you more flexible
  • It brings you into the mindset of the workout
  • It warms up the muscle tissue so that you are more pliable and can move more efficiently
  • It increases your blood flow, giving a boost to your metabolism and increasing your temperature
  • It brings up the heart rate so that the exercises won’t stress your body too much
  • Going for stretch exercise before running will improve the motor unit, making your workout more efficient

Many people make the mistake of going from sitting down to full-blown strenuous workouts, but that’s not a good way to go around things. No matter if you need to do weightlifting warm-ups or some good ol’ stretching for pilates, it always needs to be done just before you dive into the workout.

But how long should warm up and cool down be? Experts say that 5 to 10 minutes each should be enough. You should never leave more than two minutes between your warm up and your workout – lest you want to do the warm up all over again.

How Do You Warm Up Before Exercise?

There are basically two types of warm-ups that you can go for before working out. Each of them is performed differently, but the result should be the same. These sporting warm ups will get you ready to attack every workout.

Mild Aerobics

Many people prefer to do some cardio before diving into a workout. If your workout actually consists of aerobics, then the first 5 minutes should be a mild version of that exercise.

For instance, if you are planning on going for a run, then you should start by walking at a brisk pace for 10 minutes. Or if you need a good warm up before lifting, start with some pushups, lunges, or arm rotations. Those also count as a particular type of stretching, as you’ll see below.



You may have seen many trainers stretching after a workout, which is why you may find it odd to see it listed as a warm up. Do you stretch before or after a workout? The answer is: why not both?

Indeed, it is recommended to stretch after a workout, since it will relax the muscles and prevent you from getting ugly cramps. Still, it’s a good idea to do this before a workout as well. It will help decrease muscle spasm and improve your overall performance.

Warm up stretching also branches in two different stretching types:

  • Static stretching: stretch your muscle to the point where you feel a slight pressure, but not to the point where it’s painful. To get a good stretch, you need to keep that position for about 10 or 15 seconds.
  • Dynamic stretching: usually used by athletes, this technique has you moving your joints and muscles repeatedly, in full-range motions.

Trainers would argue that stretching is not a warm-up; however, they do agree that it is a very important part of warming up. During the warm up, you have to bring your temperature up – hence the term “warm up.”

But what to do before working out? Well, dynamic stretches would be a good thing to go through before a workout, static ones would be the perfect post-workout routine. One keeps the heart rate up; the other one brings it down.

So, is it more important to stretch before or after a workout? Honestly, both are crucial. While aerobics warm-ups are fine just before a workout, stretching should always be done before and after – preferably after you do some light aerobics. This way, your muscles won’t hurt as much the next day either.

What Are Some Good Warm Up Exercises?

how to do hamstring stretches

Depending on when and how you are doing them, stretching movements can be different. But how do you stretch? Well, there are several ways for you to do that. For example, dynamic stretches can be made through several types of exercises, such as walking lunges, arm circles or knee high marching.

These types of exercises can stretch your muscles, but will also raise your heart rate before going into a workout – which is why it’s recommended to place them at the beginning. They also work great as weightlifting warm ups.

On the other hand, some examples of static stretches are seated hamstring stretches. During this exercise, you remain seated on the floor, with your legs straightened out in front of you.

The stretch is done as you lean forward, trying to reach your toes. You’ll reach the final position when you feel a slight discomfort in the back of the thighs. For the best results, make sure that your legs are as straight as possible.

Once you get the hand of one movement, you’ll know how to stretch before workout for every muscle group.

Final Thoughts

So, is stretching good for you? It definitely is. A good stretch can prevent a whole deal of discomfort – basically preventing the injury before it even happens.

Also, next time someone asks you “do you have to warm up before you stretch?” tell them this: that depends. If you’re going for dynamic stretching, you don’t necessarily need a warm up. You will need one, however, if your idea of stretching is “static stretching.”

Still, the warm up is a routine that you can never skip if you don’t want your muscles to scream in pain afterward.