Don’t Forget the Warm Up!

All of our St Louis personal trainers at Studio Element will tell our clients at the beginning of a session, “Let’s start our warm up!” But have you ever wondered why we do this or if it is really necessary? It is a simple mistake people make when they are working out by themselves to opt out of a warm up and just jump right into their work out. Little do they know that is can impact the effectiveness of their whole workout!

Warming up primarily helps your body mentally and physical shift from a sedentary state to an active state. While you warm up, your blood will circulate throughout your system, your joints will travel through their full range of motion, your heart rate will gradually increase, and your brain will shift its attention to physical activity mode. These are just a few benefits of taking the time to acclimate your body to increased movement.

There is not a wrong or right way to warm up, rather there are better and more effective methods you can preform. If your time is valuable, let’s do a warm up that is going to correctly prepare you for what is ahead. Your warm up should change based on the activity you are going to preform that day, whether that be resistance training, sport, or cardiovascular exercise.

Resistance Training

The most common mistake people make that I see, as a St Louis personal trainer, is static stretching. This means standing and holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds and forcing limbs into position. This is great for AFTER your workout because it signals your muscles to relax instead of activate. Instead of static stretching you should preform dynamic stretches. This is when you move your joints with no resistance through their full range of motion rather than holding one steady position. Examples of this would be arms circles, shoulder rolls, hips circles, and ankle rolls. This is where your body can work out its kinks and make you aware of any problem areas or pain before you begin your work out with weight and resistance.


The most common mistake when warming up before a sporting event is ballistic stretching. This is anything involving a bouncing movement like hopping or jumping jacks. This can be a GREAT secondary warm up, but to begin with these movements is very abrupt. If my client is about to play golf or squash I tell them to mimic the motions they are about to preform, torso rotations and shoulder circles. Then we might move into some walking lunges with a rotation and jumping jacks at the end of the warm up. Performing movements that coincide with the specific sport you are about to play will help give your joints a preview of what is to come as well as creating motor patterns or muscle memory that is useful for your brain.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Most people believe that cardio IS its own warm up and they jump right in. Not True! Before you go flinging your body weight around, you need to do a series of dynamic stretches to prepare the body. When you jump on the bike or the elliptical its best to start slow and ease into the activity. Bring that heart rate up slowly instead of abruptly. Even before you jump onto a cardio machine you can preform some dynamic stretching like shoulder rolls. high knee marching, and lunges.


No matter what kind of exercise you are about to do, always remember to take 1-3 minutes the WARM UP YOUR BODY! You will get so much more out of your workout, your body will feel fresher and ready to move, and mentally you will be in the ZONE!


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Written by: Sarah Browning

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