What is a good warm-up?

What is a good warm-up?

We face enough barriers to exercise already.

Something as simple as being unsure how to get started can put you off.

Particularly if you’re already tight for time, stressed out or demotivated.

When you’re clear on what that first step is, you’ll find yourself far more likely to take it.

So today, we’re talking about the first part of a workout – the warm-up.

And – as with most things – it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Preparing for what’s to come.

At the most basic level, your warm-up is preparation for what’s to come.

You prepare for the thing by doing the thing.

You simply do a gentler version.

Tennis players warm-up by playing tennis.

That means if you’re lifting weights, you don’t need to spend 5 minutes on
a cardio machine beforehand, if you don’t want to.

You can simply do lighter versions of the same movements.

What about getting “warm”?

It’s true that – unsurprisingly – part of the warm-up is about getting warm.

Unless you’re in a particularly cold environment, it won’t take a lot of
movement to increase your temperature – even walking can do that.

What’s more important here is lubricating the joints and increasing blood
flow to the working muscles.

The more complex the activity and the more intense it is, the more you’ll
need to do.


Consider running vs tennis.

Running is the same controlled movement repeated over and over, usually at the same speed.

A warm-up for running can therefore be pretty simple:

  1. Move the joints involved in the ranges of movement they’ll be used.
  2. Do some light running.
  3. Gradually build up the intensity.

Depending on how hard you’ll be running, this could be done in a couple of minutes.

(For harder running – or sprinting – you’ll need some more time to build up to your working speed).

Tennis, on the other hand, involves a variety of unpredictable movements done at different intensities.

A tennis warm-up therefore requires more movements in greater ranges of motion than does running. It also requires more time to build up to match intensity.

It’s still the same basic steps though:

  1. Move the joints involved in the ranges of movement they’ll be used.
  2. Plays some light tennis.
  3. Gradually build up the intensity.

So… what does your workout look like?

If you’re mostly doing controlled movements, some lighter sets building up to your working weight is all you need to prep the body.

Prepping the Mind.

What about the mind?

We know that motivation tends to come after we begin; not before.

If you can get yourself moving in some way – chances are – you’ll begin to feel a bit better.

The warm-up can act as a helpful transition from your day to your workout.

From demotivated to getting it done.

Tips here:

  1. Just start moving.
  2. Focus on your breath for a few moments.
  3. Focus on your body for a few moments.
  4. Let your mind check-out and drift for a moment. Try to drop whatever the baggage of the day is.
  5. As you step up the intensity, begin to turn your thoughts to your first exercise.


Don’t miss an opportunity to improve.

The warm-up also offers an opportunity for you to get better.

  • Some joints benefit from mobility: Maybe you work on some movement skills and general mobility to keep your body supple. Check out some examples here.

  • Other joints benefit from stability: Maybe you’re looking or “activate” and strengthen the smaller “stabilising” muscles of your body.
  • Maybe you have some specific physio exercises to do to rehab from a niggle. The warm-up can be a great place for them.

Pulling it all together.

To put it all together, let’s go in reverse order:

  1. Start with some simple mobility exercises to get the body moving.
  2. As you do this, focus on your breath and take a moment to get your mind right.
  3. Move on to some movements or activations that reflect the type of exercise you’re going to do.
  4. Do a gentler version of the exercise you’re going to do.
  5. Gradually build up the intensity.

Done! You’re good to go!

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