Warming up is a must if you take your training seriously. Not only does it prevent injury, but it also improves performance. This means that your workouts will produce better results and therefore you’ll also reach your goals faster. A great tool to start your warmup is the jump-rope. Jumping rope gets your heart pumping more blood and your lungs more air in no time. It also gets your skin dripping sweat before you know it. Contrary to other typical warm up exercises such as jogging, both lower and upper musculature get activated.
You also have the element of jumping which is great if you’re preparing for a workout that includes plyometric exercises such as vertical jumps and burpees. Finally, jumping rope requires coordination and focus. This helps you be more in the moment and let go from whatever daily stressors might be distracting as you’re trying to begin your workout.
“Jumping rope helps you be more in the moment and let go from whatever daily stressors might be distracting as you’re trying to begin your workout.”
To get started, open an interval timer on your phone (my favorite free ones are this one here for android and this one here for apple). For a beginner, set the work time at twenty seconds and the rest interval at thirty seconds. If you’re an intermediate rope-jumper, set both the work interval and rest interval at thirty seconds. If you’re an advanced rope-jumper, well, you’re advanced so you probably know what works best for you… I like to skip rope for forty-five seconds and rest for thirty seconds. In total go for three to four rounds.
- Beginner: 20” work / 30” rest
- Intermediate: 30” work / 30” rest
- Advanced: 45” (or more) work / 30” rest
Technique key points for jump-rope rookies:
- Use your wrists: You don’t want your arms going in big windmill motions. You want to let your wrists do most of the action.
- Don’t jump to high: Jumping too high creates excessive impact on your body (not a lot of fun for your lower back, knees and ankles) – especially in the first sets. You want jump just enough for the rope to pass below your feet. This takes practice of course so give it some time.
- Posture: It’s normal to look down at the rope in the beginning… just make sure you’re not slouching and as you get comfortable start looking forward. Focusing on a specific point in front of you is helpful.
Mobility drills and dynamic stretching
As we mentioned so far, jumping rope increases your body’s temperature, your heart and respiratory rate and it activates the whole body. This is all great and it makes jumping rope one of the most effective single exercises to get your warm-up started, but… it’s not a complete warm up. For a complete warm-up it’s important to follow a basic cardiovascular-oriented warm-up exercise such as the jumping rope with a set of more specific and targeted exercises. Exercises that will prepare each joint (and the connective tissue and muscles surrounding it) to move in different angles and ranges of motion. The following routine uses a combination of dynamic stretching and mobility drills that will bulletproof your body for any bodyweight-based workout.
What are mobility drills: Mobility drills are controlled movements that gradually increase the range of motion of a joint. They improve the circulation of your joint’s synovial fluid (think of your joints as hinges and synovial fluid as the body’s natural grease) preparing your body to move with efficiency and safety.
What are dynamic stretches: A short definition of dynamic stretching would be stretching as you are moving. In other words, it is an active movement of your body that brings forth a stretch without though being held statically at the end position. In comparison with static stretching, dynamic stretches have been found to be a lot more effective form of warming up.
Complete Warm-up For Bodyweight-based Workouts
We’ll start of from the top and warm-up our neck. After that we’ll gradually move downwards and warm up rest of the body. For exercises 1-6 go for twenty to thirty reps. Ten to fifteen reps will do for exercise 7 and eight to twelve reps for exercise 8.
1. Neck mobility: Roll your head slowly back and forward. As you do this, keep your mouth closed and the tongue glued on the roof of your mouth during the upward movement – it will give your neck flexors a better stretch. Next turn your head right and left, as if you’re trying to look behind you in the background. Always start slow with the neck and gradually increase the range of motion.
2. Shoulder twist (Candy-wrappers): Extend your arms away from the shoulders and turn one arm’s palm upwards (supination) and the other arm’s palm downwards (pronation). This is my favorite starter mobility drill to open up the shoulders.
3. Lat dynamic stretch: Pull and extend your arms upwards and downwards in a dynamic yet controlled motion. This is a great exercise for the latissimus dorsi, the primary muscle used during pull-ups.
4. Chest dynamic stretch: This exercise opens up the chest and front deltoids. Move your arms back and forth in a horizontal line and keep your shoulders down to allow the chest to open up properly.
5. Elbow Drills: Lean on your knees and palms, keeping your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. From this position twist your elbows in and out. This is another favorite mobility drill for the elbows and shoulders. For most people getting a decent range of motion in this exercise takes some time and practice so be patient.
6. Hamstring Dynamic stretch: Next, sit down and open your legs at an angle you’re comfortable enough to lean forward with your back straight. Try to relax into the stretch in order for your hamstrings to gradually loosen up as you slowly move forth and back. As you start feeling more comfortable in this position, start twisting your torso right and left, extending each arm to the opposite leg. This will also open up your quadratus lumborum the deepest abdominal muscle, located in your lower back. This muscle is often tight and contributes to lower back pain.
7. Straight-elbow push-ups: Get up and assume a straight-elbow plank position. From this position start retracting and depressing your shoulder blades in order to lower your body. Usually your brain will get mixed up and you’ll automatically bend your elbows so try to be very conscious about keeping them straight. Next, push yourself up by opening up your shoulder blades and bringing your shoulders forward (shoulder protraction) without shrugging them though.
8. Straight elbow pull-ups: Lastly, find something to hang from. Either that’s some kind of bar or my favorite choice – gymnastic rings. The goal is to lift your body upwards, again, without bending the elbows. This is achieved by downward rotation and depression of the shoulder blades (pulling your shoulders back and down in simple words). For this mobility drill to make sense faster, I recommend that you first master the previous one (straight-elbow push-ups).
How Should Feel after a Warm-up
For a beginner, all this might look like a lot on paper. Once you learn to perform the whole warm-up routine by heart though, it won’t take more than twelve to fourteen minutes max. If this still sounds like a lot of time to spend on warming up, all I can do is use one of my favorite training quotes and tell you that:
“If you don’t have enough time to warm up – you don’t have enough time to workout”.
Even when you’re short on time, it’s always better to warm up properly and sacrifice some time from the rest of the workout. Injuries caused from not preparing your body adequately before training are one of the most common reasons people get discouraged to continue training. I don’t know about you but I hate to see results go down the drain due to an injury that could have been avoided.
The general sensation you want to aim for after completing an efficient warm-up should within the following lines:
- A rise in temperature enough to cause at least a mild perspiration.
- Feeling your muscles stimulated enough and energized but not drained.
- Enough freedom of movement in your joints to perform each exercise of your workout comfortably.
Through time, you’ll notice that your warm up also becomes sort of a ritual that gets your workout started. Besides your body, it will also prepare your mind to slowly get into training-mode. Even when you’re not in the proper mood to exercise… as you start to warm up, any feeling of procrastination you might have will dissolve and you’ll gradually get absorbed into the workout.
Give it a try! Any day you don’t feel like working out, just tell yourself: I’ll simply go through the warm-up and after that I won’t do anything else if I don’t feel like it. It’s one of my oldest tricks and it never fails me.