Whether you're an exercise enthusiast or new to the fitness scene, understanding the importance of a proper warm-up and cool-down is essential for injury prevention and maximizing performance. In this blog post, we'll guide you through effective upper-body, lower-body, and cardio warm-up and cool-down routines that seamlessly integrate into your workout regimen.
|Lower Body Warm-Up
|Upper Body Warm-Up
|Lower Body Cool-Down
|Upper Body Cool-Down
First, Why is It Important?
Before diving into these routines, you should understand why an effective warm-up and cool-down are a big deal for your workout. Think of your warm-up as a quick chat between your brain and your muscles. The goal is to get the two communicating with one another to properly prepare you for activity. Opt for a 10-15 minute warm-up routine tailored toward the activity you'll be doing to properly prime your body for optimal performance.
Meanwhile, your cool-down should be like hitting the reset button at the end of your workout. An effective cool-down should help promote recovery, mobility, and your overall well-being. Opt for at least a 10-minute cool-down routine to smoothly transition back to your baseline heart rate.
Lower Body Warm-Up
Kneeling Ankle Dorisflexion. 1 Minute - 30 Seconds Each Leg.
How to: Begin by kneeling on one knee with your opposite foot flat on the ground in front, creating a 90-degree angle with your knee. Place your hands on your hips for stability. Gently shift your weight forward, leaning into the front knee, and feel a stretch in the ankle of the kneeling leg.
Hip Controlled Articular Rotation (CARs). 5 Each Side.
How to: Start on all fours with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Lift your right knee off the ground, rotating it outward, and draw circles with your knee. After 15-30 seconds, reverse the direction of the circles.
Cossack Squats. 8.
How to: Start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward. Shift your weight to one side as you bend the knee of that leg, keeping the other leg straight and the foot flat on the ground. Lower your body into a deep squat position, feeling a stretch in the inner thigh of the straight leg. Push through the heel of the bent leg to return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side.
Low Rig-Assisted Squats. 10.
How to: Stand facing a rig or sturdy support, placing your hands on the bar at shoulder height. Position your feet hip-width apart, and toes slightly turned out. Keeping your chest up and maintaining a neutral spine, lower your body into a squat position, allowing the rig to assist your balance. Rise back up to the starting position.
Quadruped - Thoracic Rotations. 8 Each Side.
How to: Start in a tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Inhale as you reach your right arm toward the ceiling, opening your chest and rotating your spine. Exhale as you thread your right arm under your left arm, reaching toward the opposite side. Return to the starting position and switch sides.
Upper Body Warm-Up
Dynamic Arm Swings. 15.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out to the sides. Begin swinging your arms forward in a circular motion, gradually increasing the range of motion. Then reverse the motion by swinging your arms backward to avoid imbalances and improve mobility.
Shoulder Blade Squeezes. 12.
How to: Sit or stand with a straight posture and your arms hanging naturally by your sides. Inhale as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, pulling them toward your spine. Hold the contraction for a moment, feeling the muscles between your shoulder blades engage. Exhale as you release the squeeze.
Overhead Shoulder Stretch. 20 Seconds Each Arm.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and raise your right arm overhead. Bend your right elbow and reach your hand down your back, allowing your fingertips to slide down your spine. With your left hand, gently grasp your right elbow and apply slight pressure, feeling a stretch along the back of your right arm and shoulder.
Rotator Cuff Activation. 12 Each Arm.
How to: Start in a seated or standing position with a light resistance band in hand. Hold the band with your elbows by your side and your hands out in front of you. Keep your elbow close to your body and externally rotate your shoulder, pulling the band away from your body.
Scapular Push-Ups. 15.
How to: Begin in a plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Lower your chest slightly toward the ground by protracting your shoulder blades and spreading them apart. Then, retract your shoulder blades by pushing your chest upward, creating a slight arch in your upper back.
Deadlift + Single Leg Hip Hinges. 10.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a light weight or no weight at all. Hinge at your hips and lower the weight toward the ground, keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent. Return to the starting position and shift your weight onto one leg, extending the other leg straight behind you in a single-leg stance. Hinge at your hips, lowering your chest toward the ground while keeping your spine neutral.
World's Greatest Stretch. 5 Each Side.
How to: Begin in a lunge position with your right foot forward, left foot extended straight back, and hands on the ground on either side of your right foot. Rotate your right arm towards the ceiling, opening up your chest and stretching your spine. Rotate back to bring your right arm inside your leg, pointing toward the ground. Switch to the other leg and repeat.
Calf Raises. 15.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips. Rise onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the ground to engage your calf muscles. Lower your heels back down and repeat the movement while maintaining a controlled and steady pace.
Standing Hip Articular Rotations (CARs). 5 Each Side.
How to: To perform standing hip articular rotations, stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips for stability. Initiate gentle circular rotations with your hips, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. Focus on controlled movements to prepare the hip joints and improve flexibility.
High Knees. 30 Seconds.
How to: Stand tall and engage your core as you lift each knee toward your chest alternately, complementing the movement with a brisk arm swing. Aim for a soft landing on the balls of your feet, maintaining an upright posture throughout the exercise.
Lower Body Cool-Down
Forward Fold. 30 Seconds.
How to: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and raise your arms overhead, lengthening your spine. Exhale, hinge at your hips, and slowly fold forward while keeping your back straight. Reach toward the floor (if you can't reach the floor, reach down or try to place your hands on your shins or thighs) and allow your head to hang gently by releasing tension from your neck.
Deep Lunges. 15-30 Seconds Each Leg.
How to: Start with your feet together and step back onto the ball of your back foot, lower your hips toward the ground, and bend both knees. Focus on keeping your torso upright. For an additional stretch, you can raise your arms overhead or interlace your fingers behind your back and lift your chest.
Seated Hamstring Stretch. 30 Seconds Each Leg.
How to: Sit with a straight spine, relaxed shoulders, and engaged core. Extend one leg in front of you with your feet flexed, pointing toward the ceiling. Inhale as you begin to hinge at your hips and lean forward from your waist. Reach toward your toes, shins, or ankles, depending on flexibility, until you feel a gentle stretch along the back of your thighs.
Quad Stretch. 15-30 Seconds Each Leg.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight onto one leg, bend the opposite knee, and bring your heel toward your glute. Grab the ankle of your bent leg while keeping your knees close together. Slightly adjust your bent leg to feel a gentle stretch in the front of your thigh.
Calf Stretch. 30 Seconds Each Leg.
How to: Stand facing a wall with both feet pointing forward. Take a step back with one foot and place the ball of your front foot up against the wall. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body forward to bring your chest toward the wall (you can bend your front knee slightly.) Adjust until you feel a comfortable stretch along the back of the calf propped up against the wall.
Upper Body Cool-Down
Neck and Shoulder Rolls. 1 Minute Both Ways.
How to: Stand tall or sit comfortably, relax your arms down by your sides, and begin with neck rolls. Proceed to shoulder rolls by shrugging your shoulders up toward your ears, moving them down and then forward. Maintain a gentle pace.
Tricep Stretch. 15-30 Seconds Each Side.
How to: Extend one arm straight up toward the ceiling, then bend at the elbow to bring your hand toward the center of your upper back. Apply gentle pressure with your opposite hand to deepen the stretch in your tricep. Hold while breathing deeply to relax into the position.
Lat Stretch. 30 Seconds Each Side.
How to: Begin by kneeling on the floor, sitting back onto your heels with your hips squared off to the front. Extend one arm or both arms overhead and reach toward the opposite side while maintaining a straight spine. Slowly lean to deepen the stretch along the length of your lat and throughout your side-body.
Cat Cow. 15-30 Seconds.
How to: Start on all fours in a tabletop position with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Inhale and drop your belly toward the floor, arching your back and lifting your head and tailbone to the ceiling. Exhale as you round your spine toward the ceiling, tucking your chin to your chest.
Child's Pose. 30 Second Hold.
How to: Start in a tabletop position with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Sit back onto your heels with your big toes touching (your knees can be slightly apart.) Extend your arms forward, stretching them out in front of you. Lower your chest toward the floor to allow your upper back and shoulders to gently stretch.
Treadmill Walk or Bike Ride. 10 minutes.
Remember: If you feel persistent joint or muscle pain throughout your warm-up, workout, or cool-down, please consult with a physiotherapy professional.
They can provide you with personalized guidance and treatments to help fix injuries and prevent new injuries that keep you from your workout routine!