Warming up before your workout gets blood flowing to the muscles and primes your nervous system for whatever activity you’re about to do.
Most people do a short walk or jog on a treadmill, but to really target the muscles you’ll be using in your workout, try these “dynamic” or “active” warm-ups. They’re also a lot more fun than cranking away on a treadmill. Do these for five or more minutes or until you break a light sweat.
Before a run: These moves all engage a wide-range of leg muscles to really get your muscles loose and ready to log some distance.
High knees: Skip using exaggerated arm swings and concentrate on height.
Backwards running: Take exaggerated strides backwards, knees slightly bent without locking them, and an emphasis on landing on your toes.
Slow leg swings: Hold onto a wall or tree and swing one leg at a time up and back several times; switch legs.
Before a weight workout: Try these moves to raise your heart-rate and engage your arms, legs and core. You'll be able to lift more weight (which will burn more calories and help you build more strength).
1. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and hold onto a medicine ball in both hands.
2. Bend knees and hips, dropping into a squat as you bring the weight down to touch your left foot, shin or knee (depending on your flexibility).
3. Rise up out of the squat as you simultaneously rotate and raise the ball up and across your opposite side, as if throwing it over your opposite shoulder.
Try to do 2 sets of 10 lifts to each side, alternating sides.
1. Keep both hands on your hips as you step forward into a lunge with left leg (bending both legs to right angles, keeping left shin perpendicular to the floor).
2. Bring right leg up to meet the left foot and immediately step forward with your right foot as you rotate to the left. Continue lunging and twisting for 10 to 15 times on each side.
Try these before your next run or workout!
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This article was originally published Mar. 3, 2015 at 6:51 p.m. ET.