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6 Great Warm-Up Exercises to Boost Your Workout

Whether you’re working out to drop weight or stay fit, warming up should be your first priority.

Short on time? You may feel tempted to skip your warm-up. But doing so can land you in trouble.

Warming up may feel unnecessary, but it’s an important part of your exercise routine, as skipping it can increase your risk of injury and strain your muscles. A proper warm-up not only prepares your nervous system and muscles to perform optimally but increases blood flow to reduce stress on your heart.

If you know the importance of warming up, it’s time to understand how to do it properly. Our Toronto-based personal trainers suggest the following warm-up exercises to boost your workout. Have a look.

How to Warm Up Before Exercise

Warming up before performing strength training, cardio or any strenuous exercise is essential to avoid injuries. It helps loosen the body and prepare the mind for action. But it’s important to do it properly to make the most of your workout.

tips-on-how-to-warm-up-before-exercise

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Here are a few warm-up exercises to improve your performance.

1) Side Reach

This gentle but effective warm-up exercise stretches and strengthens the intercostal muscles that support the ribs. It increases your flexibility and makes you less prone to injury. This exercise is recommended by personal trainers to increase mobility in your shoulders and upper back.

> How to do it: : Begin by either sitting on a chair or standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Reach your right hand over your head and lean your body to the left while bending your left knee slightly. Hold for five seconds. Lower your right hand and do the same with your left hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Continue with alternate hands for at least 60 seconds.

2) Squats

Squats are a versatile warm-up exercise that targets lower body muscles like glutes, calves, hamstrings and quads. They burn fat, keep bones and joints healthy, and activate leg and back muscles so you feel comfortable when upgrading to high-intensity exercises after warming up. The key to reaping the benefits of squats is to do them properly because bad form can stress ligaments and joints.

> How to do them: : Stand with your feet hip-width apart, back straight with toes pointing slightly out. Extend your arms in front of you and engage your core while slowly lowering your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Inhale on the way down. Your weight should be on your heels rather than your toes. Pause briefly with knees bent. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 12-15 times.

3) Supine Hip Bridge

This versatile glute activation exercise improves mobility and strengthens your lower back. When done correctly, it enhances core stability by targeting your abdominals, lower back and hips.

> How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent so your heels are a foot away from your hips. Keep your shoulders down and press your toes into the floor. Squeeze your glutes while lifting your hips. Slowly return to your starting position. Do this exercise for at least one minute.

4) Jumping Jacks

This cardio exercise stimulates your heart muscles. This increased pumping of your heart is necessary to supply oxygen to the muscles. That said, it burns about 100 calories for every 10 minutes of exercise.

> How to do them: Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart and arms at your sides. Bend your knees slightly so you can hop. As you jump a few inches off the ground, raise your arms out to the sides, over your head and open your legs wider than shoulder width. Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement and repeat for one minute.

5) Standing Side Stretch

This exercise stretches the spine and promotes posture. When warming up, it allows you to engage your abdominals to stabilize your torso while maintaining good flexibility.

> How to do it: Stand with your feet together in parallel and your arms straight over your head. Clasp your hands together and inhale. Bend your upper body to the right while exhaling. Hold this position for five seconds and slowly return to centre. Immediately repeat on the opposite side. Continue for 60 seconds.

6) Lateral Lunges

Also known as side lunges, lateral lunges work your inner and outer thighs to develop balance, stability and strength. This exercise targets your hips, quadriceps and legs. Lateral lunges pair well with any strength-training workout because of their versatility. The intensity of this exercise can be increased with advanced variations.

Gidon Gabbay, an experienced fitness trainer in Toronto, recommends adding this move to your routine two to three times a week to stay strong and toned.

> How to do them: Stand tall with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Keep your weight centred on your heels and your back straight. Take a big step to your right, bending your right leg while engaging your core, keeping your torso upright and left leg straight. Pause briefly, then push back to your starting position. Lunge to your left. Do at least 15 reps in total.

Warm-up exercises are integral to any workout. In fact, they’re as important as cooling down. It’s advisable to warm up for at least 10 minutes, using exercises like the ones suggested here for optimal results. You don’t have to spend money on gym equipment or training to master these moves, although hiring an affordable personal trainer for in-home sessions will help you perform them properly. Have any questions? Call us at 416-716-2348.

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