1-2-3: The Best Way To Warm Up

Markus RosenbergTraining

Warm-ups are often underestimated in their importance, but they are crucial for preparing the body for physical activity, enhancing performance, and reducing the risk of injury. A well-rounded warm-up routine should include three different types of activities: a general warm-up, dynamic stretching or mobility exercises, and specific warm-up exercises. Let's delve into each component and understand why they are vital for an effective workout session.

  1. General Warm-Up (3-5 minutes)

The general warm-up is the first step in preparing your body for the workout ahead. It involves engaging in low-intensity cardiovascular activities that increase your heart rate, enhance blood flow to your muscles, and elevate your body temperature. Activities like walking, jogging, biking, or using an elliptical machine are perfect choices for this phase.

Why it's important:

  • Increases Heart Rate: A gradual increase in heart rate helps to pump more blood to your muscles, providing them with the oxygen and nutrients needed for the upcoming physical activity.
  • Enhances Blood Flow: Improved circulation ensures that your muscles are warm and ready for action, which helps to prevent strains and sprains and clear out lactic acid.
  • Elevates Body Temperature: A higher body temperature increases the elasticity of your muscles, making them more pliable and less prone to injury.

A 3-5 minute general warm-up sets the stage for more specific preparations by gently easing your body into the workout mode.

  1. Dynamic Stretching and Mobility Exercises (3-5 minutes)

Once your body is warmed up, the next step is to focus on dynamic stretching and mobility exercises. Unlike static stretching, which involves holding a stretch for an extended period, dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body through a full range of motion.

Examples of dynamic stretches and mobility exercises:

  • Foam Roller: Roll on a foam roller for 1-2 minutes on each muscle group to loosen any tight muscles in the upper back, chest, hips, thighs and calves.
  • Assisted Deep Squats: Just like a regular squat, hold a beam or post for support as you squat down to lowest possible position and stand back up.  Perform 5-10 repetitions.
  • Side-lying Floor Arm Circles: Laying on your side in fetal position, extend your top arm forward and slowly raise your arm in a slow circular motion overhead  and twist your trunk until your arms reaches behind. Perform 10-15 revolutions per side.

Why it's important:

  • Increases Range of Motion: Dynamic stretching helps to improve the range of motion in your joints, making movements more fluid and effective during your workout.
  • Activates Muscles: These exercises engage the muscles that will be used during your workout, enhancing neuromuscular coordination.
  • Reduces Injury Risk: By ensuring your muscles and joints are properly loosened and activated, you decrease the likelihood of experiencing strains or other injuries.

Dynamic stretches and mobility exercises bridge the gap between a general warm-up and the specific demands of your workout.

  1. Specific Warm-Up Exercises (3-5 minutes)

The final component of a comprehensive warm-up routine is specific warm-up exercises. These are low-intensity versions of the exercises you plan to perform in your workout. For instance, if your workout includes bench presses or deadlifts, you would start with lighter weights to rehearse the movement patterns.

Examples of specific warm-up exercises:

  • Bench Press: Start with an empty barbell or light dumbbells to practice the bench press motion, focusing on proper tempo, form and technique.
  • Deadlift: Use a light barbell or even just a wooden dowel to go through the motions of a deadlift, ensuring your back and hips are correctly aligned.

Why it's important:

  • Rehearses Movement Patterns: Practicing the movements with lighter weights allows you to focus on technique, ensuring you perform the exercises correctly when you increase the weight.
  • Activates Targeted Muscles: Specific warm-ups engage the exact muscles you will be working during your session, priming them for optimal performance.
  • Enhances Mind-Muscle Connection: This phase helps you mentally prepare for the workout, reinforcing the connection between your mind and the muscles you will be using.

Incorporating specific warm-up exercises ensures that both your body and mind are fully prepared for the challenges of your workout.


A comprehensive warm-up routine that includes a general warm-up, dynamic stretching and mobility exercises, and specific warm-up exercises is essential for any effective workout. Each component plays a crucial role in preparing your body, enhancing performance, and minimizing the risk of injury. By dedicating time to these three types of warm-ups, you can ensure that your workouts are safe, effective, and enjoyable. Remember, keep it simple and the key to a great workout is starting with a great warm-up. Happy training!

Markus Rosenberg