This is what the ideal warm-up for every workout looks like

An ideal warm-up part of a workout is usually the first thing to be forgotten or left behind. Simply because it is seen as a waste of time when you have to do it quickly. But in the long run, skipping the warm-up part will not save you any time, but will only result in a loss of performance or even injury.

What is the effect of warming up before training?

Fitness trainers differentiate between a general and a sport-specific warm-up program. To put it bluntly: Both are important, but with the right know-how they can be done in 10 to 15 minutes. Of course, you’ll also burn a few calories and work your muscles.


First of all, a general warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles and increases body temperature. The body works best at around 39 degrees, its resilience steadily increases and at the same time your susceptibility to injury decreases. After all, the tendons and ligaments are also more elastic and therefore more resilient when things get hot. The warm-up also helps you to mentally prepare for the workout. This point should not be underestimated, because even a slight lack of concentration can have painful consequences. Most recreational athletes are not immediately into it: especially if there has been a lot of hustle and bustle at work or at home beforehand, it is important to gradually switch to workout mode and focus. When you warm up, you automatically leave everyday life behind you and block out everything else while you routinely get on a cardio machine of your choice, do a few jumping jacks or go for a leisurely jog.

The crucial difference between warming up and stretching

After five to ten minutes, the second warm-up part follows, in which you prepare your muscle chains and joints specifically for the movements in the following training. This is achieved by a process with little weight or dynamic mobilization exercises . Static stretching, on the other hand, is best saved for after training. No more desire or time? “No problem: Regular stretching is important to avoid shortening, but it does not necessarily have to be done after the workout. After a long sports session of more than 60 minutes, it is even advisable to give the muscles a rest and to stretch two or three hours later or the next day,” explains physiotherapist and fitness trainer Carsten Lemke from Hamburg. This is also suggested by a large-scale study from 2018 , which came to the conclusion that static stretching increases the range of motion of the joints, but at the same time reduces muscle strength and endurance. So stay dynamic and do not stay in one position for more than 20 seconds during the warm-up.

By the way: Do you already know Animal Moves? Warming up is a lot of fun with these exercises.


Tip: One way to dynamically warm up muscles and ligaments is to use resistance bands or therabands. A mini band set is a great way to prepare for leg training , while a classic theraband gets your whole body fit.

These are suitable warm-up exercises for strength training

Unfortunately, it is not enough to warm up for strength training by cycling to your workout or climbing the stairs quickly. Warming up is also about mobilizing all of the joints that will be used later, not just those in the hips and knees. A cardio machine is ideal for warming up for a vigorous session. In the gym, it’s time to get on the rowing machine , air bike or cross trainer! In fact, these three are ideal for a full-body workout afterwards. If your training plan only includes legs, you can also go on the treadmill or sit on the exercise bike.

The following are suitable for the home gym: jumping jacks, lunges , squats , leg, shoulder and hip circles and rope skipping . Alternatively, you could consider investing in a space-saving, foldable rowing machine with water resistance for your home.

How long should the warm-up last before the workout?

It’s very simple: keep going until you start to sweat a little. Depending on your training level, this will happen after 5 to 10 minutes. Please don’t cheat by setting the resistance so high that the sweat is already running down your forehead after 2 minutes. You should get going slowly. You can achieve this by using a moderate load that you can feel but that doesn’t use up huge amounts of energy beforehand. After this so-called global warm-up, do a short dynamic stretch, the local warm-up. This applies to all the parts that you want to train afterwards. Keep moving here and don’t stay in one position.

That’s almost it, but not quite yet: When doing strength training, do a set with half the weight before each new exercise. This will ensure that the muscles that will have to work hard in the next set are at the optimal operating temperature. In general, the higher the weight and the lower the number of repetitions, the higher the risk of injury – and the more important a thorough warm-up is.

Tip: If you exercise regularly and want to record your workouts, you should think about buying a sports watch. The Polar Ignite 2 is ideal for anyone who wants guidance and motivation for their everyday sporting activities, with all kinds of smart coaching and analysis functions.

How do I warm up optimally for running?

Strictly speaking, not at all. The best warm-up for running is actually running. But not at the speed you’re aiming for. It’s better to use a mental handbrake at first to spare your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints a cold start. You often feel a bit stiff and lame when you take your first steps anyway. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes until the movement comes easily and you can pick up the pace. That’s when you’ve reached the point where your muscles are warm enough, your fascia is supple and your joints are supplied with enough synovial fluid. Do you want to improve your running performance? Try this 20 Best AB Workouts at the Gym and at home

Joint pain in the first few meters is often a sign that this synovial fluid is not yet optimally distributed. It is produced through movement and ensures that the joints become thicker and therefore more stable, but also more flexible. This means that you twist your ankle more quickly if you are not warm, which can happen quickly when trail running . Long-term consequences can also occur, as cartilage degenerates more quickly if it is exposed to cold stress more frequently. So if the terrain is rough or you are initially in pain, it is better to take it a little slower for a while to mobilize your joints sufficiently.

What should I consider when warming up for other sports?

A moderate warm-up phase is also required for other endurance sports such as swimming, cycling or spinning in order to adjust the breathing rate to the strain. After all, the muscles need more oxygen, which is supplied by more frequent breathing. This is supported by the increased pulse, which ensures faster blood flow and thus serves as a rapid transporter. Conveniently, it also takes waste products with it and protects the muscles from becoming too acidic. If you go too intensively, however, the transporter quickly becomes overloaded and gives way, which you will feel as muscle burning. In addition, the warm-up in endurance training also aims to prepare you mentally and coordinatively for the strain and to avoid strains or even injuries. This will help you get fit again in the event of a muscle strain or a torn muscle fiber.

The same applies to ball sports: A recent study from 2022 shows that a specific warm-up can significantly reduce the risk of injury in handball. Football players, for example, also do themselves a favor by performing typical football movements before kick-off. In this way, they optimally prepare the interaction of muscles and nerves and their ability to react improves. And this can also be transferred to all other ball sports.

What are the dos and don’ts for warming up?

The most important rule when warming up is: never skip it! If you’re short on time, cut your workout short. If you want to attend an online fitness class and you miss the start, skip the class too.

Instead, train – including warm-up –

Otherwise, the risk of injury is too high. It is also important not to go straight from 0 to 100 when warming up. Give your body time to get going. If you are particularly tired or stressed, it is better to extend the warm-up phase by a few minutes until your circulation is really going and you can think clearly again. The trick is not to overdo the warm-up part so that you don’t start training with muscles that are already exhausted and over-acidified.

The 3 best warm-up exercises for the cardio part

If you want to warm up at home or on the go without any endurance equipment, these exercises will warm your heart:

Knee lift run

Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, then explosively raise your right knee to chest height: Quickly and dynamically, you’ll be warm in no time!

Knee lift run on the spot

Level Beginners
Main region Legs

Exercise steps

  1. Stand upright. Bend your right leg and lift your right knee as high as possible. Bend your arms and bring your left arm forward.
  2. Stretch your right leg again and place it on the floor, with your left arm reaching back. At the same time, pull your left knee towards your chest and move your right arm forward. Perform the movement dynamically and without stopping.


Sure, the dreaded push-up squat jump really works the pump after just a few repetitions and is therefore particularly worthwhile for experienced advanced users as an effective whole-body warm-up:


Level Advanced
Main region Full body

Exercise steps

  1. From an upright standing position, get into the push-up position by placing your hands on the floor and jumping backwards with your feet.
  2. Tighten your core and buttocks so that your body forms a straight line. Perform push-ups. The lowest point is when your chest touches the floor.
  3. Straighten your arms and lift your upper body off the ground. Jump off the ground with both feet and land as close to your hands as possible.
  4. Push off the ground with force using your legs. Jump as high into the air as possible, stretching your arms vertically above your head. Land with both legs in an upright position.

Boxing with towel

Stand upright and hold a towel shoulder-width apart in front of your body. Bend your knees slightly. Pull the towel to your chest with your left hand, palm facing upwards. With your right hand, press the other end of the towel forwards on your outstretched arm – palm facing downwards. Quickly change arm and hand positions and box forwards with your left hand while your right hand goes to your chest. The towel is always under tension. Continue alternating just as quickly.

8 top warm-up exercises for the stretching part

Of course, you don’t have time to do all 10 stretching exercises mentioned here before every workout. But you don’t have to. Just choose the four that fit in with your subsequent workout.

The best stretching exercise in the world

There really is one exercise that challenges all major muscle groups and the joints involved, making you ideally mobilized for any workout. This world’s best exercise should not be missing before any workout:

Best stretch in the world

Level Beginners
Main region Full body

Exercise steps

  1. Get into the push-up position. Tighten your core so that your body forms a straight line.
  2. Take a big step forward with your right foot and place your right leg next to your right hand. Your hands should still be touching the floor. Keep your core tensed.
  3. Rotate your upper body to the right so that your right arm points straight up in the air. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.

Open chest and back: Cat & Cow

Yoga for men? Definitely! At least for the warm-up you should give this classic exercise for a flexible back a try:


Level Beginners
Main region Back

Exercise steps

  1. Get into a quadruped position.
  2. Arch your back by pulling your chin towards your chest and pushing your shoulder blades apart.
  3. Form a hollow back. To do this, stretch your chin upwards, chest out. Press your shoulder blades together. Stretch your buttocks into the air. Return to the starting position.

Lunge with upper body rotation

Ideal for preparing the lower body and core for power transfer when lifting weights later. This also challenges your coordination:

Lunges with upper body rotation

Level Advanced
Main region Butt, legs

Exercise steps

  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Let your arms hang at your sides and look straight ahead.
  2. Take a wide step forward with your right foot. The lowest point is when your back knee almost touches the ground. Keep your upper body upright. Hold your arms slightly bent in front of your body, hands touching.
  3. Turn your upper body to the right. Bring your arms back to the front, then return to a standing position using the strength of your right leg. After completing the specified repetitions, move your left leg forward and turn your upper body to the left.

The deep squat

For optimal hip opening, it is best to get into a deep squat and bounce here. Then do a few more squats and your legs and buttocks will be ready for more:

Squat, deep

Level Beginners
Main region Legs

Exercise steps

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Rotate your feet slightly outwards. Tighten your core and squat down. Keep your upper body as upright as possible. Press your elbows against the inside of your thighs. Hold the position.

Diagonal Climber

The dynamic mountain climber is ideal for activating your core, torso and legs. Performed diagonally, you also involve the lateral abdominal muscles and avoid strains later on.

Mountain climber, diagonal

Level Advanced
Main region Belly

Exercise steps

  1. Get into the push-up position. Tighten your core and buttocks so that your body forms a straight line.
  2. Keep your arms stretched. Keep your hands stable on the floor. Bend your left leg and bring your left knee to your right elbow. Bring your left leg back to the push-up position and bring your right knee directly to your left elbow. Perform the movement as dynamically as possible.

Rowing in the V-seat for the six-pack prep

To specifically warm up the straight abdominal muscles and to use the legs and shoulders more efficiently, rowing in the V-seat is ideal:

V-seat with oars

Level Advanced
Main region Belly

Exercise steps

  1. Sit on the floor. Stretch your legs out and lift them off the floor. Lean your upper body back. Bend your arms and hold them at your sides.
  2. Pull your knees to your chest and straighten your upper body. At the same time, stretch your arms forward. Return to the starting position. That’s one repetition.

The classic: push-ups

If you don’t get warm when doing push-ups or if you don’t feel your chest and triceps, then we don’t know what to do! So don’t do too many repetitions:


Level Beginners
Main region Breast

Exercise steps

  1. Get into the push-up position. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Tighten your core and buttocks so that your body forms a straight line. Arms are stretched out.
  2. Bend your arms and lower your upper body to the floor in a controlled manner. Hold your arms at a 45 degree angle to your upper body. The lowest point is when your chest almost touches the floor. Push back to the starting position.

YWT arm raises in prone position

What? You read that right: Lie on your stomach and form the following letters and your shoulders, arms and upper back are ready to lift:

YWT arm raises

Level Beginners
Main region Back, shoulders

Exercise steps

  1. Lie on your stomach. Stretch your arms over your head so that your body and arms form a Y. Tighten your back and lift your chest and arms off the floor. Hold the position.
  2. Bend your arms and bring your elbows as close together as possible behind your back so that your upper body forms a W. Hold briefly.
  3. Then stretch your arms out to the sides of your body into a T-position. Continue to tense your back. Hold the position briefly and then return to the Y-position.

Conclusion: Warm-up exercises make you more efficient

Every athlete should start with a general warm-up, plus special movements that target the muscles that are to be stressed during training. It is not enough to warm up on the exercise bike and then train your upper body. The whole thing should not take longer than 5-10 minutes; you don’t want to reach your limits before training. When it comes to strength training, do one set with half the weight before each new exercise. The better your body and mind are prepared for the stress, the more confidently and strongly you will perform.


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