Before starting any exercise, it’s important that you first prepare your muscles by warming up. Here are the most common routines I do before working out.
Possibly the easiest warmup routine I can recommend is walking. My gym is a few kilometers away from home and instead of driving or commuting, I just walk the distance. It usually takes me around half an hour to do so, but I’d be arriving “warm” already and prepared for higher intensity routines. You may need to get creative if you don’t have to go far to where you’d be working out (like when working out at home) but walking is a good one to start with.
Taking it a step higher would be jogging or brisk walking. Basically, you’d like to increase the intensity so that your heart rate would also elevate. You could jog in place if space is prohibitive. Do this for about a minute or so. You could skip this if your heart rate is already a little higher than normal. I walk fast so upon arrival at the gym and settling in, I go on to my next routine.
I officially start my warmup with jumping jacks. This involves your entire body and elevates your heart rate in a short amount of time. You’re also just lifting your body weight so it shouldn’t be that challenging. You may do 10 or so in a set and a few sets until you feel your body warm up. You may be breaking a sweat as well depending on the ambient temperature. I normally do about 20 as it’s usually enough to get my heart pumping.
Lunges are usually my next in line as it helps specifically target the lower body. You may do it in place if you have limited space, but you may also do it “walking” around.
By this time, my body would be much warmer. This is the time I do some upper body routines like extending my arms to the side and do circular movements, twisting my trunk from side to side, and some stretching of the parts warmed up. If I’m working on my legs, I continue with deep squats to prepare my legs for the added weight ahead.
The goal of warmups is to prepare your muscles for the strenuous activities ahead, and an elevated heart rate is a side effect. And even if you don’t have much time to spare, there are certain routines you can do to warmup quickly. Jogging and jumping jacks are my favorite because they don’t take much time and are quite effective in warming me up. In any case, never ever forget to warmup before starting your exercises. Your heart rate can tell you when you’ve warmed up enough. Back when I was still joining races, running when properly warmed up felt much better than running “cold” (like when I arrived late and the event already started), so this is also based on experience.
Note: always consult your doctor or a professional before starting a new exercise program, especially when you have underlying conditions.