How to warm up before an upper body workout
by Freya • 7 minutes read
Last updated: 12 Aug, 2022
Warming up before any workout is vital as it prepares your body both physically and mentally for the physical activity you are about to do
A warm up allows you to increase your heart rate which increases your blood flow enabling oxygen to reach your muscles. It also activates the connections between your muscles and nerves which will allow for more efficient movements and range of motion (when performing stretches), reducing the risk of injury.
A typical warm up should take around 10 minutes and include light aerobic activity, static stretching, and dynamic stretching that targets the muscle group/s you are about to workout.
The type of movements that you complete in your warmup will depend on the workout you are about to complete, we will be looking at how to correctly warm up you upper body when targeting this area in strength training.
Firstly, we will show you how to structure your workout.
Start with a full body warmup routine
Although you will be targeting your upper body during your workout, warming the whole body up first can be a helpful starting position as it will increase your heart rate and encourage full range of motion.
Doing a full body warmup to start will be helpful for an upper body strength workout as some exercises may require other parts of your body, for example bent over rows will involve both your upper body and some lower body engagement.
For example, you could complete some jumping jacks, inch worms, and push ups along with some lunge walks so that your whole body is targeted.
Tip: You shouldn't do this for any longer than 3-4 minutes
Next complete an upper body warm up routine
Now you have warmed up your full body, you can move onto focusing on warming up your upper body a little bit more.
You should ensure you are performing full range of motion exercises as well as mobility stretches.
You could include skipping, push ups, arm circles, cat-cow, band pull-apart and more.
It could also be helpful to do a practice set of each exercise before completing them, this will prepare your body for when you include weights or resistance bands, for example practice your bench press at a low weight.
Example upper body warm up
|Jumping jacks or skipping rope||2 minutes|
|Arm circle||2 sets of 10 reps|
|Downward facing dog||3 sets and hold for 10 seconds|
|Cat Cow||20 breaths|
|Resistance band pull-apart||2 sets of 10 reps|
|Overhead band pull-aparts||2 sets of 10|
|Side-lying thoracic opener||10 reps|
|Thread the needle||5 reps each side|
How to: Jumping Jacks
Stand with your legs together
Slightly bend your knees and jump
As you jump, spread your legs and stretch your arms out and over your head. Your legs should be shoulder width apart.
Jump back to your starting position and repeat
How to: Arm circle
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
Extend your arms parallel to the floor
Circle your arms forward in a small controlled motion, you can gradually make these circles bigger to feel it in your triceps
Reverse the direction of the circles half way through the exercise
How to: Downward facing dog
Get into tabletop position - palms wide and knees hip distance apart
Raise your body and pull your tailbone back
Hold in position and focus on breathing
How to: Cat cow
Begin on your hands and knees in tabletop position
Inhale into cow pose - lift you tailbone back and press your chest forward and let your belly flop
Exhale into cat pose - round your spine outward and tuck your tailbone in while pulling your pubic bone forward
How to: Resistance band pull apart
Hold your resistance band at chest level with your hands on both ends in front of you.
Spread your arms out to your sides to pull the band tighter
Bring your arms back into starting position
How to: Overhead band pull-apart
Hold your resistance band at both ends with your arms up in the air above your head
Pull the band apart while directing your hands down
How to: Side-lying thoracic opener
Lie on your side with your legs at a 90 degrees angle
Place your arms straight ahead and put your hands together
Begin to rotate along the thoracic spine until your upper back and outer arm are flat against the ground - make sure you are pressing your top knee down on to the other
Pause in this position for a couple of seconds and return to the starting position
Complete on the other side
How to: Thread the needle
Begin on all fours
Open you chest to the side as your extend your arm to the left or right and look toward your raised hand
Slowly move your raised arm under your chest toward the mat
Rest your shoulder and head on the mat and extend your other arm overhead so your finger tips touch the mat
Hold the pose for a few seconds while focusing on your breath and repeat
Repeat on the other side
- Warm-up and cool-down - https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/keeping-active/before-and-after-exercise/warm-up-and-cool-down
- LaBella CR, Huxford MR, Grissom J, Kim K-Y, Peng J, Christoffel KK. Effect of neuromuscular warm-up on injuries in female soccer and basketball athletes in urban public high schools: cluster randomized controlled trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(11):1033-1040. -
- Fradkin, AJ, Zazryn, TR, and Smoliga, JM. Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res 24(1): 140–148, 2010. -
- Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19996770/#:~:text=Warm%2Dup%20was%20shown%20to,is%20detrimental%20to%20sports%20participants.
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