How to Properly Warm Up Before You Work Out

how to do a proper warm up

If you played high school or college sports, you probably remember your coach telling you to always warm up beforehand, or put yourself at risk for getting injured.

As a former basketball player, I remember jogging around the court, doing lunges down and back, doing wall sits and even running lines before starting practice or a game.

But since most of us are past the days of organized sports, how do you know how to properly warm up before a tough workout?

Longer isn’t necessarily better

Despite what your coach may have drilled into your head back in your school days, longer warm ups do not equal to better performance.

In fact, too long of a warm up can actually cause you to lose strength and endurance in your actual workout.

In her book, The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Tells Us How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, Gretchen Reynolds stresses:

“A warm up should be a prelude to exertion, not the exertion itself.”

The ideal warm up length? Just around two to five minutes. My typical warm up takes about two minutes, then I’m onto the good stuff.

And while there’s really no right or wrong way to warm up, you should always aim get a little warm (hence the term warm up) and get your muscles working—but not wear yourself out completely. 

How to warm up

As I mentioned before, there’s no absolute perfect warm up. Generally, you should try and gently work the same muscles you’ll be working in your workout in your warm up.

That being said, here’s my typical warm up and one I recommend doing before the 12 Minute Athlete workouts:

  • 100 jumping jacks (or 100 jumps w/ a jump rope)
  • 10 straight leg kicks (hold on to a chair if you can’t balance quite yet)
  • 10 side to side twists
  • 10 bear walks
  • 10 crab walks

Bonus: If you have a wall, do a 30 second handstand! This will get your shoulders good and warm before your workout.

Watch the video

Want to see my warm up in action? Here you go:

Now go warm up, then work hard! 

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