When it comes to exercising, a lot of people tend to downplay the importance of a good quality warm up. Some people even forgo the warm up altogether! It’s vital to understand that if you’re going to exercise, at any level, a good warm up is paramount to both protect your body and to allow you to perform to a high standard. In order to assists with your warm up we have compiled 5 of our favourite warm up drills to make it more enjoyable and to make you less likely to skip warming up in the future.
The warm up will gently prepare your body for exercise by improving your circulation, raise the heart rate and stretch the muscles to get them ready for the dynamic and explosive movements that exercise requires.
For this drill you will need a decent amount of space as well as something to mark out a square. You could use cones, shirts or even find a tennis court or football pitch somewhere and use their marking to help you. Make it so there is about 10 metres between the corners of the square. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to begin.
Start off by jogging around the outside of the square. Once you’ve done 2 or 3 laps you will need to begin counting your steps. Every 15 steps change direction. This will get your heart rate up and get your body ready for the quicker direction changes that higher intensity exercise sometimes needs.
If you’re working with a partner or with a group then one person can be chosen to decide when everyone changes direction, this adds in the mental focus of listening out for a direction change. You can also add in running across the diagonal of the square every time you manage a full lap, which adds in the difficulty of dodging other people and increases the fun factor tenfold.
This drill covers 4 different dynamic stretches that are designed to increase joint mobility and flexibility that are needed for a variety of different exercises. You will need a timer that gives alarms for this drill or someone to keep time for you. First off start by jogging on the spot. Then every 30 seconds change to a dynamic stretch of your choice. Here are some of our favourite dynamic stretches to give you some ideas, but it is probably best if you cater your stretches to the type of exercise you are going to be doing.
Knee to chests
This combines running, plyometrics, stretches and bodyweight exercises. You can set your own number of reps for each stage, but we would recommend doing 20 reps of each. This warm up should be used as a secondary warm up drill after you have completed a light jog and some stretching. This is because it is a little more intense than the previous two drills and is more of a gateway towards working out at full intensity, whereas the previous two drills were all about raising the heart rate, getting the circulation moving and stretching the joints and limbs.
First you need to set out a square again, you could just increase the size of the square from the square jog. It need to have sides of at least 50 m but up to 100 m would be fine. You start at one corner and run at between half and three quarter pace to the next corner. At each corner you will carry out a set of exercises. The exercises that we recommend are as follows, but you can choose your own if you want to cater them to a specific sport.
Collection can work as a solo drill or as a competitive drill. In order to set up collection you need a large number of cones. First set up a square, a 5 m by 5 m square will be fine, if the game involves more than 10 people then increase it to 10 by 10. Once you have created the square fill it up with cones. The aim of the drill is to collect cones from inside the square and place them inside your own space outside the square.
If playing against other people then the cones inside the square will be gone quite quickly. Once this has happened you can steal other people’s cones until the time is over. This warm up is a fun game type of warm up with the bending motion to pick up the cones helping to ready the body for dynamic movements that sport requires.
This one is designed for people who are going to be doing explosive actions. It’s a plyometric drill that should come after one of the less strenuous drills. The muscles need to be warm before this is undertaken, but if your exercise is likely to include explosive actions then it is imperative that you warm up your body to be ready for it.
For explosives you need a 20 m long track with a checkpoint in the middle. At the start you perform a jumping squat. This is when you squat and then explode into a jump from the squat. When you land you sprint to the midpoint of the track. Once here you have to drop to your stomach, then get to your feet and sprint to the end. Once at the end you walk back to the start and complete the track another 4 times.
This is great for getting your muscles ready for the fast twitches that come with explosive movements but doesn’t ask too much all at once as the explosions are in small doses.
These warm ups all offer a framework that you can cater to your own requirements. If there is something missing from the specific sport or exercise that you are getting ready for then all it takes is a slight tweak to some of the routines, for example adding a football makes them all useful as a football warm up. Don’t ignore the warm up though, it will ensure that you perform to a higher standard and help to keep you safe from injuries.
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