Warming Up the body thoroughly prior to a class (or practice at home) is important to preventing injury. Plus, having a transition from rest to exercise prepares the body in a way that improves your performance. Movement increases blood flow to the muscles and tendons allowing them to move with greater ease as the fibres become more elastic.
This post outlines a few ways you can gradually increase your heart rate which, in turn, increases your core body temperature. Muscles then become warm which increases muscle flexibility and ensures the body is well prepared to exercise with more intensity.
Begin by taking a few minutes to go walking, stepping up and down on a step or even lifting your knees up to hip height alternating one knee at a time. These simple movements ease you into your warm up.
Now to really get moving. While there are a multitude of ways to warm up, here is one example you can follow. The “10’s & 20’s” warm up involves repeating the exercises for 10 or 20 repetitions. If you tire just do as many as you can and increase the repetitions over time. The aim is to get your heart rate up and warm up adequately.
5-8 year olds will enjoy the purple sheet while 9-12’s up to ladies can gradually build up their strength and endurance to warm up using both the purple and pink sheets.
- Jogging on the spot for 20 steps.
- Jumping Jacks (or star jumps): Juniors may respond better to star jumps as they can understand bringing their legs and arms out like a star before jumping the legs back in together along with bringing their arms by their sides.
- Lateral bunny hops: Jump from side to side with feet together, landing with soft knees and swing the arms through from the front to the back with each jump. Arms resemble someone skiing.
- Plank Jumps: Start in a crouch position and jump out into a plank and then back again. An easier alternative to burpees and a great way to ensure juniors are correctly executing a plank. No arch in the back and no bottoms in the air.
- Butt Kicks: Yep. I said “butt”. The kids think this is great! Simply jogging on the spot making sure the heels hit your, well, butt.
- Body Swing: Lift the arms above your head, legs at astride and swing your arms down and through your legs to sweep the floor. Keep your knees soft and return to a standing position with arms above your head again. Describe the movement of an elephant lifting it’s trunk for juniors.
- Torso Twists: Arms to cross bend with fists and twist from left to right looking over the shoulder. Be sure to take your time and keep feet at astride.
- Squats: Feet at astride and in a parallel position, bend the knees as if sitting on a small chair behind you. Return to a standing position and repeat. Be sure to keep your knees behind the toes and your chest up. Arms can come in front of the chest when in the squat and by your sides when standing.
- Knee lifts: Alternate lifting one knee to your chest at a time. Add arms by lifting them to the ceiling while your feet are on the ground and into fists by your hips when you lift each knee.
- Kicks: Step kick one leg at a time. Begin with your arms at yard and touch your right arm to your left foot as you kick. Knees may be soft for this exercise until you are flexible enough to keep your legs straight with each kick.
- Pull and Fly: With your feet together bend your knees and lean your torso slightly forward. Arms begin straight down in front of your knees. Bend your elbows to pull up as if lifting something heavy. Return arms to knees and then raise the arms out to yard as if you look like you are flying. Repeat.
- Leg Swings: Support your body by holding onto a chair or similar for support. Swing one leg at a time from front to back keeping your hips turned to the front.
- Plies: Bend at the knees with legs at astride. Be sure to track your knees over your toes. Your body remains upright as you bend and straighten. Arms at yard.
- Burpees: Jump with feet together and arms above your head then down into a crouch position. Arms jump out into a plank and back into a crouch position before springing up into a jump and repeating again. Can also be done without the jump but just returning to stand.
- Arm Rotations: One arm at a time, circle your arm up at the front to circle overhead towards the back. Try to keep your shoulders facing the front. Once you have circled backwards on both arms repeat circling your arms forwards.
- Squat jumps: Begin in a squat with arms at chest. Spring into a jump with arms by your sides and repeat.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated as you warm up. Once the body is adequately warmed up we can move onto a number of stretches. But we will save that for another post. Until then, enjoy warming up!
Be careful to not stretch before adequately warming up the body. Many youtube clips show girls stretching as a “warm up” but this doesn’t really prepare your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints for your class or practice session. Plus warming up your body gives you time to mentally prepare for class.