I’m leading a Focus T25 Challenge Group on Facebook. We don’t officially get rolling until 8/25 (which means there’s still time to join!) but a few members have already started posting, which is so exciting. I love seeing engaged participants in these challenges!
One question centered around warming up prior to working out. The Focus T25 routines don’t have much of a warm up. Shaun T begins with some lower impact, lower intensity moves for the first 1-3 minutes, but he very quickly gets into the heart-pumping workout that makes up most of the 25 minutes — and it is INTENSE. I am in pretty good shape so I usually find that to be enough for me, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone!
On days when my body just doesn’t want to get going, I like to take my dog for a quick walk or hop on my spin bike for 5-10 minutes of low resistance riding. These activities wake up my mind and my muscles and help to make me feel prepared for the more intense T25 workouts. But I also wanted to find some recommendations that I could pass along to the challenge group, and that I could keep on hand for my own use when traveling.
Why is it important to warm up? Great question. If you aren’t used to working out, you’ll want to ease your heart rate and breathing into the higher-intensity activities. A good warm up will gradually increase your heart rate and help you settle into a strong breathing pattern that you can then maintain through the rest of your workout. You also want to start getting blood pumping through your muscles so that you lessen the risk of injury when you jump into the higher intensity workout. I like these pages on SparkPeople and Fitday for further explanation as to why warming up matters.
One thing to avoid? Static or passive stretching. You might think back to phys ed classes of your youth and think “But I always did toe touches before running laps!” New research actually shows that static stretching can do more harm than good prior to a workout. Static or passive stretching is defined as any stretch that holds a muscle in a fixed position for at least one minute. If you want to stretch, make sure that you’re engaging in active stretching – move through your stretches slowly and try to go a little bit further each time. Start with a very shallow stretch and increase the range of motion as your muscles warm up, but stay moving! For more information on dynamic versus static stretching, check out this great resource from Fitday.
With all that in mind, here’s what I turned up to share with my Focus T25 Challenge Group – and of course I had to get all of you in on the fun as well!
Fitness Blender | Total Body Warmup | 5 Minutes
I love Fitness Blender’s YouTube series! Definitely take the time to subscribe to their channel [Website | YouTube]. They have a great selection of free workouts; you can really find anything on their site! This warm up sets a great pace to ease you into the workout mindset. It alternates between cardio and stretching moves, and at only 5 minutes, you can tack it onto your T25 workout without impacting the rest of your daily schedule. I highly recommend this as a “starter level” warm up – if you are brand new to fitness, this is a great place to start, and you can move on to more challenging warm ups as you feel more confident with your body and your fitness level.
POPSUGAR Fitness | Cardio Warmup | 10 Minutes
POPSUGAR Fitness is another fantastic resource [Website | YouTube]. I have a ton of their workouts pinned on my Health/Fitness Pinterest board, because they’re great to throw into the mix when I want to switch up my routine, and they’re also great when I’m traveling or don’t have access to my DVDs. This is a more challenging warmup and not one that I would recommend for someone relatively new to working out. If you’re still close to the beginning of your fitness journey, take this at your own pace, and work on building up to match the same speed as the instructors in the video. I like that the first 5 minutes of cardio will get your heart rate up so you’re ready to keep up with Shaun T, while the second 5 minutes of dynamic stretching really helps to get your muscles warmed up and ready to tackle T25.
Do you warm up before working out? What’s your go-to method to prevent injury and maximize the results of your workouts?