For a while, I’ve been thinking about writing about upper body warm up for your workout session. Warm up is an extremely important part of any training. Yet, most people underestimate the importance of this part of a workout.
Yes, when you are in your teens and twenties, you can get by without doing a warm up before each training session. But, if you skip it before each workout even when you are young, you might get in trouble. You can get injured and risk a long recovery. Even worse, if an injury is especially hard, you may get lifetime health problems. In severe cases, it can lead to lasting damage to your body.
Why is upper body warm up important
For us getting over 50, missing a warm up is very dangerous. If I skip warm up before my workout, I’m definitely asking for trouble.
Even knowing this, a few weeks ago I did a stupid mistake. I was able to do my first few tuck front levers. I was so eager to try my first tuck planche.
The reasoning was simple. Pushing exercises was always easier for me than pulling exercises. Since I was able to do a tuck front lever coming from the pulling world, I surely must be able to do a tuck planche coming from the pushing world.
So on an off day (the day between workouts) I just wanted to try a few tuck planche holds. Of course, who would warm up for doing just one exercise?
I was stupid. After doing two tuck planche holds for around 5 seconds each I was happy as a kid. I just proved to myself I can do tuck planches. I was about to do a third. When I positioned myself for a third I felt pain in my left shoulder.
Long story short, I missed two weeks of upper body training as a result. I will probably need at least one month to get back to doing the same level of exercises I was doing before this happened. Just stupid.
What is upper body warm up used for?
But, let’s just put this stupid mistake aside for a moment. The main reason for doing an upper body warm up is to prepare your body for an upper body strength workout. This can be an upper body, push or pull workout.
When warming up, you are preparing your body for the main part of the training. It can be strength or conditioning training. Since we are here talking specifically about upper body warm up, you may instantly conclude it’s targeted towards an upper body strength workout. And you would be right.
This is why upper body warm up is important. I only hope I will listen to my own advice in the future. I hope to never do any exercise without a proper warm up again.
Upper body warm up benefits
What are the main benefits of an upper body warm up? I’ve already mentioned a stupid mistake I recently made. From this, we can learn that warm up is great for preventing injuries.
This is not the only benefit of an upper body warm up though.
The second benefit of this part of training is muscle activation. Before plunging in your upper body, pull or push training, you would want to prepare muscles that will soon be heavily loaded. So, you would want to prepare your muscles and ease them in the training. You are doing so by making your muscles lightly loaded during a warm up session.
Warm up will also bring more oxygen into your body and increase blood circulation. If we compare it to an engine, it will help your body (engine) get to a working temperature before pushing a gas pedal to the metal (before doing heavy exercises close to your one rep max).
Another benefit of a proper warm up is mobilizing your joints. This is especially important if you are leading a sedentary lifestyle. You will be pretty still throughout the day. Your joints will not move much. Before getting into your workout session it’s imperative to move around the joints that will be used in the exercise. You would want your joints to be prepared for the range of motion that is different in a workout than in your everyday life.
Lastly, a good upper body warm up will prepare you mentally for a workout. You will shift focus from your job, your family, or anything else that may occupy you during the day and move your attention to your training. You will be more focused on exercises that are ahead of you. This again leads to a reduced number and severity of injuries.
Upper body warm up routine
Here’s a short upper body warm up routine I do before each of my upper body workouts.
Head left right 10 times
To lose your neck and warm it up for the upcoming training session you can start by moving your head to your left. Then move it to your right. Keep on moving your head to your left and right 10 times. Then move on to the next exercise.
Head up down 10 times
The next exercise for preparing your neck is moving your head up and down 10 times. You will feel your upper traps and front neck muscles working during this exercise.
Head spins 5 on each side
The last exercise for preparing your neck is the head spins. You will make circles with your head going to the left 5 times. Do 5 head spins to the left. After that make 5 head spins to the right.
Wrist rotations 20 front and back
This exercise is great to warm up your wrists. When you keep your arms straight to your sides, you will also feel your shoulders take a load. Make a fist, or keep your palms open. Make circles with your fists (palms) moving forward 20 times. After that do 20 circles moving your hands back.
Elbow circles 20 inward and outward
To prepare your elbows for the workout do elbow circles. Keep your arms straight to your sides. Your body will form a letter T. Move your forearms in a circular motion by starting to move them inward 20 times. After that do the same motion. This time move your arms outward 20 times.
Arm circles 10 front and back
Let your arms fall freely beside your body. Circle your entire arms by moving your arms in front of you and up 10 times. You will make circles with both arms at the same time. When you are done, do 10 arm circles by starting circling with your arms to your back.
Side bends 10 times
To mobilize your upper body and make your spine move side to side, do 10 side bands. Do 5 side bands to each side.
Torso twists 10 times
Twist your body from your hips up to each side as far as you can. Follow your arm movement with your head. Do 5 twists to each side.
Cat cow 10 times
Place yourself on all four. Move your head down and your spine up. This move is called “cat”. Move your head up and your spine down. It’s called “cow”. Do one cat and one cow for each rep. Do this 10 times.
High knees 20 s
High knees exercise is used to increase your blood flow and warm up your body. It’s relatively easy to do. You are just running in place. Try to raise your knees as high as you can.
Jumping jacks 20 s
Another great exercise for improving your blood flow is jumping jacks. You are jumping up in the air switching between getting your arms and legs wide apparat and close together.
Upper body warm up conclusion
Upper body warm up is a great way to prepare your body for an upper body type of workout. It’s specifically used as a preparation for upper body strength training.
It will improve blood flow and bring more oxygen into your muscles. Not only that, but it will also help you increase the range of motion and mobilize your joints. This will make you more focused on the workout and will reduce the number and severity of injuries.