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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

Exercise Duration/reps
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

  1. Stand with your legs together

  2. Slightly bend your knees and jump

  3. As you jump, spread your legs and stretch your arms out and over your head. Your legs should be shoulder width apart.

  4. Jump back to your starting position and repeat

How to: Arm circle

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart

  2. Extend your arms parallel to the floor

  3. Circle your arms forward in a small controlled motion, you can gradually make these circles bigger to feel it in your triceps

  4. Reverse the direction of the circles half way through the exercise

How to: Downward facing dog

  1. Get into tabletop position - palms wide and knees hip distance apart

  2. Raise your body and pull your tailbone back

  3. Hold in position and focus on breathing

How to: Cat cow

  1. Begin on your hands and knees in tabletop position

  2. Inhale into cow pose - lift you tailbone back and press your chest forward and let your belly flop

  3. Exhale into cat pose - round your spine outward and tuck your tailbone in while pulling your pubic bone forward

  4. repeat

How to: Resistance band pull apart

  1. Hold your resistance band at chest level with your hands on both ends in front of you.

  2. Spread your arms out to your sides to pull the band tighter

  3. Bring your arms back into starting position

How to: Overhead band pull-apart

  1. Hold your resistance band at both ends with your arms up in the air above your head

  2. Pull the band apart while directing your hands down

How to: Side-lying thoracic opener

  1. Lie on your side with your legs at a 90 degrees angle

  2. Place your arms straight ahead and put your hands together

  3. 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

  4. Pause in this position for a couple of seconds and return to the starting position

  5. Complete on the other side

How to: Thread the needle

  1. Begin on all fours

  2. Open you chest to the side as your extend your arm to the left or right and look toward your raised hand

  3. Slowly move your raised arm under your chest toward the mat

  4. Rest your shoulder and head on the mat and extend your other arm overhead so your finger tips touch the mat

  5. Hold the pose for a few seconds while focusing on your breath and repeat

  6. Repeat on the other side

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