How to Warm Up Before Exercise

Warming up your muscles is one of the most important aspects of any exercise routine. A successful warm-up routine prepares you both physically and mentally for what is about to come, like your 8fit HIIT workout.

Why warming up is important?

First and foremost, warm-ups are good for your heart. In one study, 44 men ran on a treadmill for 10-15 seconds without a proper dynamic warm-up. When their heart rates were measured, 70% of those men showed abnormal heart rate changes (measured by a heart rate monitor called an EEG) caused by a low blood supply to the heart.

The following week, the study participants with abnormal heart rate readings performed a 2-minute warm-up before running on the treadmill for 10-15 seconds. As a result, their heart rate changes were less dramatic, suggesting that a proper a treadmill warm-up is quite valuable.

Doing a warm-up before gym sessions — or a warm-up before HIIT workouts in your 8fit app — protects your heart by letting it gradually ramp up and switch into a higher gear. Without warm-ups, we run the risk of placing shock and strain on our cardio systems, causing minor damage if done repeatedly over time. Bottom line: Don’t skip your warm-up.

Why and how to warm up the muscles?

Muscle elasticity is an important concept in the process of warming up. Muscle elasticity means that muscles have the ability to both stretch and contract. A study on the role of warm-ups in muscular injury prevention found that “a greater force and increase in length are needed to tear isometrically preconditioned (warmed) muscle.” The study also found that muscles that were not warmed up appeared more inelastic at each increase in length.

Why does all of this matter? Well, muscles with greater elasticity perform better and are less likely to get injured. This is important for any type of exercise but especially important for things like HIIT.

Now let’s talk about the how. A warm-up should be quick, simple, and relatively easy — i.e. don’t tax yourself before a workout or run. Our favorite way to warm up is with a dynamic warm-up featuring dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches are held for 2-3 seconds, released, then repeated anywhere from 5-10 times. It’s important to focus on the muscle groups you plan to use during your workout, therefore your pre-treadmill warm-up should primarily target the hips, legs, and feet.

Signs of a successful warm-up

After your warm-up and before your actual workout, your body should feel a certain way. Here are some key signs of a successful warm-up.

Your body should feel warm.

If you are shivering or still haven’t broken a slight sweat from your warm-up, then your body is not ready for exercise. It’s called a warm-up for a reason.

Your muscles and joints should feel flexible.

You’re not going to be your most flexible after a warm-up, but you should feel as if your muscles and joints are able to move through a full range-of-motion (like a lunge) with no cracks, pops, sticking points, or feelings of tightness.

Your mind should feel mentally ready for the workout.

During your warm-up, aim to focus your mind on the task at hand. By the time it’s completed, you should be mentally focused. Also, remember: Great exercise with high intensity is best (and most safely) performed free of distraction. Treat your workout as a break from your chaotic day and as an opportunity for some self-love and self-care.

Best HIIT warm-up exercises

Now it’s time for a warm-up example. If you’ve every warmed up using the 8fit app, some of these movements will look familiar. Mix and match the following warm-up exercises to your heart’s content. Do your best to warm up your entire body, not just the areas you plan to use during your workout.

 2-3 minutes of jumping jacks or jumping rope

The goal here is to get your joints moving and heart pumping. This is the “warm” part of the warm-up.

30 toy soldiers (15 each leg)

To do this movement, stand with feet hips width distance. Lift your right leg up in front of you to make an “L” shape and reach your left hand towards your right toes. To finish the movement, place the right foot down and bring your left hand to your side, then repeat on the other side with the left leg and right arm. Remember: Focus on the movement, not the amount of reps. You should feel your muscles stretching at the top of the movement.

General movements to warm up the joints

Move through these slowly if you feel any resistance in your shoulders.

  • 20 small arm circles (10 clockwise, 10 counter clockwise)
  • 20 large arm circles (10 clockwise, 10 counter clockwise)
  • 10-20 pushups (focus on engaging the core while pushing with the chest)
  • 20 lunges (10 each leg)

If you haven’t done your 8fit workout yet today, start with a warm-up that prepares your body but isn’t too taxing.  Remember to listen to your body and if you’re not physically warm and your movement doesn’t feel fluid and relaxed, spend more time warming up.