How To Warm Up Properly…

… And Avoid Injuries

How To Warm Up Properly to Avoid Injury

We all want to get done with our workouts as quickly as possible.

We have games to play, comic books to read and things we want to accomplish in life and the more time we spend in the gym means less time doing all that fun stuff right?!? I get it…

What we don’t want is a pulled hamstring, bicep or pancreas though! It’s really difficult to lose weight, build muscle, feel better about ourselves, and continue on our path to becoming a real-life superhero if we’re laid up on the couch nursing an injury.

So don’t be that guy who wanders into the gym aimlessly and then plops down on a bench, or a machine, and starts cranking out a workout immediately.  I see it all the time, and very often these are the same people who end up never seeing real progress because they either:

  • Hurt themselves and have to take significant time off of their program
  • Never perform at their peak because their muscles aren’t primed and ready to go

Luckily, you’re reading The Jerd… and I’m going to keep you straight!

So today, in honor of Rule #6 of the Jerd Herd, we are going to talk about training smart! You’re going to learn why you need to warming up before every workout and how to warm up properly.

Why Warm Up?

How To Warm Up Properly to Avoid Injury - Don't Exercise Cold

I know it is going to take a little bit to convince you, but I am telling you…

Warming up properly is the most important part of your workout!

Let’s pretend for a second that you are Luke Skywalker, sitting all day on the back of your Tauntaun patrolling the frigid landscape of the planet Hoth; your muscles unused, and the cold chilling you to the bone. Now imagine if you rode back to Echo Base, and immediately starting lifting heavy weights in the Rebel Alliance gym… Those cold, inflexible muscles would tear and snap under the stress like dry rubberbands. #JediFail

When we last talked about stretching I likened your muscles to strands of taffy; and if you have ever tried to do something with a cold piece of taffy you would know it is more likely to break then bend to your will. If you want to make it pliable you need to spend some time warming it up and that’s what we want to do with our muscles!

There are a few reason boxers, wrestlers or any other athlete step into the ring or onto the field already sweating profusely but this is the most important one!

Oh, and despite what your gym teacher might have told you, static stretches prior to working out aren’t a good idea either! According to a recent study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, engaging in passive static stretching prior to lifting weights could make you feel weaker and less stable during your workout.

So for those reasons, a focused dynamic warm-up is the way to go!

Moving around and getting your muscles loose, active, warm, and ready for action will:

  • Keep yourself injury free
  • Prime yourself mentally to give your workout your all
  • Improve your circulation

Still need more reasons? Well how about the fact that once you are all warmed up your joints and muscles are primed and flexible! This means you can minimize the risk of injury by sticking to proper form!

So, with all that said, I think it is safe to say that the 5-10 minutes you spend warming up properly is a wise investment of your time.

“If you don’t have the time to warm up properly, then you don’t have the time to work out.”

How to Warm Up Properly

Here is a medium intensity warmup video… depending on your level of fitness you may might need to make adjustments.

If you are just starting out, and trying to come to grips with the Nerdcore Fitness 101 regimen, you might feel this is more difficult than your actual workout.  NO WORRIES!

Never forget that fitness is an iterative process.

With hard work and dedication that which seems impossible today quickly will become second-nature. Do what you can, adjust the exercises as necessary, and go from there.

Here is the warm up:

  • 100 Jumping Jacks (Pull your shoulder blades back and really focus on the movement)
  • 20 Arm Swings (Swing them as wide as you can)
  • 20 Shoulder Rotations (Each direction and make the circles as wide as you can)
  • 20 Torso Twists (Don’t turn too hard until your back loosens up)
  • 20 Hip Rotations (Each direction)
  • 20 Squats (Keep you weight back and go as deep as you can)
  • 10 Lunges (Each leg)
  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 Push Ups
  • 10 Spidermans
  • 20 Crunches

One thing you might have noticed is that there’s a decent amount of focus on the shoulders, hips and your core.

Since we nerds and geeks spend so much time sitting, whether at our desks at work or on our cabooses gaming or watching movies, these tend to be the areas that are the tightest and least active, and in need of the most stimulation.

Also, for those of you who are lifting heavy things as part of your workout, make sure you’re doing some warm up sets of each exercise before you pack on the weights. This engages the specific muscles that you are going use as well as reinforcing the proper form.

Now Let’s Answer The Inevitable Questions/Protests!

“I barely have the time to workout as it is.” Maybe I wasn’t clear earlier, this is not an option. Do you think Batman ever says to himself “I don’t have time to fill up my utility belt before I go punch crime in the face?” Of course not! If you are so stressed for time that adding 5 minutes is too much, then take a little time and try to better figure out how to schedule your workouts instead of cheating yourself out of this important piece of the puzzle.

“Mr. Jerd, I can’t do jumping jacks/I live on the second floor/etc…”  If you are struggling with carrying a lot of extra weight, have bad knees/ankles or have people living below your apartment or condo, then jumping jacks might not be an option for you.  That’s okay, we can do some substitutions – go for a 5 minute stroll at a brisk pace, climb a bunch of flights of stairs or even better yet do a little shadow-boxing. Jumping jacks are awesome because they work all of your limbs at once and get you bouncing around; so get your inner ninja on! Who cares if you don’t actually know what you are doing?!? Bounce around and throw some punches and kicks with each leg.

“I feel silly.”If you are doing your workouts in a gym, I get that it can be intimidating; the inevitable flashbacks to feeling awkward in gym class, the fear of looking like out-of-place and that you don’t belong… Trust me, as long as you aren’t dressed like a lunatic or smelling like week old potato salad (for love of all things Batman please don’t be that guy) no-one is going to pay you any mind; I promise! Everyone is there to get their workouts done, and a lot of them are going to be doing very similar warmups.

“Dude, that warm up is tougher than my actual workout!”  This dynamic warm up is for people who are already able to make it through basic workout routines. However, if you are just getting started then this might be a bit much…

HAVE NO FEAR! Just keep the above warm-up as a goal, something you can aspire to. Until you’re able to work up to it, just do the best you can.  Try this instead:

  • 25 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Arm Swings
  • 20 Shoulder Rotations
  • 20 Torso Twists
  • 20 Hip Rotations
  • 5 Squats
  • 5 Push Ups
  • 10 Crunches

Just do the best you can, and push yourself each time you warm up properly.  With consistency and some willpower you’ll be crushing the full routine before you know it!

Questions? Concerns? Comments? You know what to do… leave me a note below!

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11 replies
  1. Debra A. Jason
    Debra A. Jason says:

    Warming up is always a good idea. To me the warm up as jumping jacks, arm swings, rotations, etc. is part of the workout. However, my routine has changed. These days my exercise is a dance class, not weight training. Thanks.

  2. Jodene
    Jodene says:

    I agree with you that warming up is super important to any workout. I’ve let myself get lazy and take shortcuts just to finish quicker. Big mistake! I’m not into weight lifting, but even when I go for a beach jog, I can tell a huge difference if I don’t stretch, or warm up. Thanks for the great tips/ exercises. It was a fun read..I loved the pictures & Luke references.
    ~ Jodene


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