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Warm Up Exercises: 11 Ways To Start Your Workout

09/18/2014 02:20 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:58 EDT
Mike Donavanik

We've all been there after a workout: sore body parts, muscle aches and an inability to walk up the stairs at a regular pace the next morning. But when you skip or skim through warm-up exercises, it only hurts that much more.

"Warm ups gradually increase the heart rate, therefore increasing blood flow throughout the body and into the muscles," says personal trainer and fitness expert Mike Donavanik. "It primes the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments for the activity ahead and prevents injury."

But what if you're not working out that hard, is it OK to skip it? Donavanik says if you are doing steady cardio, it may be OK to skip out on a warm up. Similar to running, if you're gradually working up to a faster pace, the jog is considered the warm up.

It may also be a good idea to focus on warm ups that enhance the exercise. For example, if you want to work out the legs, it would be best to do a lower body specific warm up, Donavanik says.

And although you may already be used to stretching out your arms, legs and body (for example, by touching your toes), to start your workout, Donavanik says they may actually be counter-productive.

"When working out, your muscles need to contract as powerfully as possible — by statically stretching beforehand, you place your muscles in a stretched state and inhibit the muscles' ability to contract as quickly and intensely."

Below, Donavanik shows us 11 warm-up exercises to try before working out. Although there aren't any reps listed, you may want to do one of each before you start your workout.

Have any warm up routines you'd like to share? Drop us a link in the comments below: