Let's be honest: warming up before a workout can seem like a waste of time, especially if you're already short on precious minutes. But if you want to see results faster, you need to warm up before you power through a workout.
Trainer Todd Durkin, who counts professional athletes among his beefy clients, says that building a strong, lean body boils down to preparing your joints for a workout. "If you want to build a strong monument, you've got to have a great foundation. Joint integrity is the foundation on which you can build your monument," he recently told me at the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) conference, where he appeared as a Cybex fitness equipment spokesperson. That means ensuring attention is paid to knees, ankles, and shoulders, as well as the small stabilizing muscles that surround them, by warming up adequately.
For an hourlong session, 30 seconds of halfhearted jogging isn't going to cut it: Todd instead recommends eight to 12 minutes of warming up before ramping up the intensity. This will help prevent injuries that can sideline you from meeting your goals. Prior to getting into it, do a mix of movements to get your body and mind primed for workouts, Todd says. Try these warmup ideas:
- Moves like rocking and walking lunges and walk-outs will lubricate joints, prime muscles, and target your core hip flexors. Do all five of these strength-training warmups for a solid warmup that will ensure workout success.
- Raise your heart rate and loosen legs with this short, dynamic warmup for runners.
- Movement training, Todd explains, helps wake up your body and mind to "get the neurological movements and patterning down for new moves" you'll be doing later in your workout. This type of warmup (think: jumping, squatting, and marching) has also been found to significantly reduce an athlete's risk of knee injury. Try these flexibility, strengthening, and agility warmup exercises from the Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance (PEP) Program.