Don’t skimp on your warm up. How thoroughly you warm up will directly impact how much you benefit from your main workout.
Everyone knows that a good warm up prepares your joints and muscles for the workout, but it’s also an important opportunity to check in with your body to see how it’s doing before you increase the stress levels with more intense exercise. Do you have a sore knee? Is your shoulder prone to injury? During the warm up, mentally check in with your body to assess how well you are moving. Moving slowly at first to “check yourself” can save you from potential injuries.
A 10-15 minute jog is a classic warm up strategy. We like to mix in dynamic stretches to ensure the entire body is ready for action – not just the legs. We also use our environment creatively to add more variety of movement to our warm up, weaving through trees, stepping over logs, climbing benches etc.
One trick we’ve learned for managing a large group of people at different fitness levels, some of whom walk and others who run, is to follow a zig zag route, mixing jogging and dynamic stretches. The slower folks keep up by cutting corners and it’s easier for them to follow when we transition between dynamic stretching and jogging.
Like with any exercise, the quality of your movements is more important than the speed. You can always start slowly, then build up your effort once you are sure you are moving well.
The dynamic stretches in the video above are the classics and are used by athletes in all kinds of sports. Walking lunges are another popular dynamic stretching exercise. There are many different variations on the lunge, which makes it nice for adding variety to your workouts. We kept lunges separate from the other dynamic stretches, as we feel they require more attention to detail to ensure they are done safely.
The dynamic stretches in the video above are:
If you have poles with you, you can integrate them into your dynamic stretches, which can be beneficial for getting your shoulders and upper body warmed up as well.
Below is a link to a downloadable video file of the basic dynamic stretches, without the explanations, for on-the-go reference.