For decades, cold static stretching was the de facto warm up done by athletes, bodybuilders, and more. However, doing a dynamic warm up has become more popular in the sporting community over the past several years. Its popularity has also since carried over into much of the general workout world. Below are tips on how to do a proper dynamic warm up, as well as why you should.
What Is a Dynamic Warm Up?
Unlike a static stretch that has you getting into a stretched position and just holding it, a dynamic warm up consists of drills that stretch you out while you’re moving. There are many benefits to this including:
- Increased muscular activation
- Improved range of motion
- Better physical performance (meaning you can lift more weight, generate more explosive power, run faster, etc.)
- Extra body awareness (meaning increased balance and improved coordination)
Should You Warm Up Before You Warm Up?
It’s been shown that doing light activity such as walking, jogging, easy calisthenics, or even easy rope skipping is a good idea prior to static stretching. This is because your core temperature is elevated, you get the blood flowing more easily, and your muscles are warmed up. While doing this prior to a dynamic warm up isn’t necessary, it can be a good idea.
Feel free to start every pre-workout warm up with either a few minutes on the elliptical or the following easy circuit:
- Jumping jacks x 30-50
- Free squats x 15
- Squat thrusts x 10
- Push ups x 10
- Jogging in place x 30 seconds
Rest 60 seconds between rounds and do 3 rounds.
What Sort of Warm Up Should You Do?
You might be wondering what some good dynamic warm up exercises are. After elevating your heart rate as just described, here is a short routine you could go through:
- Leg swings (side-to-side) x 10 reps each direction, each side
- Leg swings (front-to-back) x 10 reps each direction, each side
- Lunge with a twist x 8 reps each side
- Knee to chest x 10 reps each side
- Rollovers into v-sits x 10 reps
- Mountain climbers x 12 reps each side (feel free to bring your forward knee all the way outside your arm and hold for a count of 2 for additional stretch if you like)
- Cossack squats x 8 reps each side
- T-push ups x 10 reps each side
- Fire hydrant circles x 10 reps each direction, each side
Since most of that list targets the hips and/or lower body, you could do some joint rotations to help warm up the upper body. After your light activity, you could do 10 full rotations each direction around the neck, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Then you could complete the above. Going through it one time should be enough, but it won’t hurt you do it a second time.
Just don’t go overboard with things. There’s no need to rush through the above as it’s not a race. Remember that this part of your workout is part of your warm up – it’s not conditioning. Along those lines, don’t do too much of this, either. While it’s good to be warmed up, spending too long on this will eat up too much of your time and you can even end up too tired to put sufficient effort into the main part of your training.
When all is said and done, a dynamic warm up can definitely help improve your workout. It can ready you to perform at a higher level and reduce the risk of injury. It doesn’t need to take long and done properly should leave you feeling energetic and ready to train hard. Just don’t spend too much time doing it as while it’s important, it should never take away from the main portion of your session.