The Best Warm Up Exercises

Warming up is an essential part of your workout. It increases the temperature in your muscles, resulting in enhanced speed and strength. It increases the range of motion around the joint and it also allows the heart rate to adapt, ready for your main workout. It’s important that you focus your warm up on the muscles you want to train, but you need to keep the exercises light and steady so you don’t pull or injure the muscle. It’s taken me a while to find the best warm up exercises for each different session, but these are sure to leave you feeling completely ready for your main workout.

BUM DAY

I tried the treadmill, the cross trainer and even the bike but none of these machines were properly engaging my glute muscles. I’ve found that the best way to ensure your bum is efficiently warmed up is to get the lightest barbell weight, around a 10kg, and do 20 slow, deep squats followed by 5 lunges on each leg. Keep it super relaxed and take your time. Once you’ve finished you’ll find both your glutes and legs feel warm and you’ll be ready for some heavier weights.

LEG DAY

For my leg day warm up I spend 6-8 minutes walking on the treadmill at a speed of around 7 and a gradient of 8 or 9. This warms up all the muscles in your legs from your hamstrings to your calves ready for your main workout. If you still feel like you need another warm up exercise, then going on the recumbent (lower) bike for 3 minutes on a low energy setting is also a great way to stimulate your muscles.

AB DAY

It can be difficult to find a good warmup before you train your abs, but going on the rower at a steady pace is an ideal way to start activating your core muscles. Make sure you sit with your back perfectly straight and pull the handle directly towards your stomach. Doing this for 3-4 minutes will ensure your abs are ready for your crunches. A short sprint on the treadmill is also a good way to prepare your muscles.

ARM & CHEST DAY

If you work out with a partner then a good arm warm up is throwing a weighted ball at a fast pace to each other for 2-3 minutes. Again, the rower at a low intensity is also an amazing warm up for all your arm, chest and back muscles. You can also use part of your main arm routine as a warm up, but just half the size of the weight you usually use and drop the reps.

HILT & CARDIO

I used to make the mistake of NEVER warming up before a high intensity or cardio session as I figured that all my muscles would just warm up along the way due to the type of exercises. However, since I have started warming up properly I have been a lot less achy and I’ve been able to utilise my sessions to the full. I start my warm up with a 6 minute alteration between walking and sprinting on the treadmill; 2 minute walk then a 1 minute sprint. I then do 2 minutes on the bike and 2 minutes on the rower. This is my most vigorous warm up but the most rewarding, all my muscles feel warmed up and ready to go.

Fat Burning Oblique Workout

A lot of women have no desire for a full on six pack. The majority just want to have those nice toned lines either side of their stomach. Training your obliques to a high intensity is the best way to burn the fat off your sides, therefore achieving this look. These exercises are arguably a lot less painful than your usual ab focused workout, but if done properly you will definitely feel the ache the next day.

Bicycle Move

13318679_663703377104289_189627987_n.jpgThis move is extremely simple but very effective. Bring your bent leg towards you whilst leaning in from the opposite side. Alternate quickly between both legs ensuring that you keep your stomach locked throughout the exercise. Repeat 20 times on each leg and try and do this for 2 sets.

 

Russian Twists

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This exercise perfectly targets your obliques. Use a heavy kettlebell and swing it from side to side ensuring that it never touches the ground. The hardest, yet most important, aspect of this exercise is to keep your body and legs balanced, the only section of your body which should be moving are your arms. Repeat this 10 times on each side for 2 sets.

 

Weighted Lean Down

13329861_663703347104292_673732238_n.jpgThis may look easy, but using a heavy weight and leaning towards the ground is a great way to tighten up your obliques. Try to look ahead and keep your whole body, apart from the side you’re working on, completely straight. Repeat this 15 times on each side for 2 sets.

 

Side Heel Touches

13349102_663703463770947_94193100_n.jpgQuick, side heel touches are very effective when it comes to training your obliques. Elevate the top of your body slightly off the ground so you can keep your stomach firmly locked in. Keep a fast pace and aim to be doing a touch per second. Repeat this 20 times on each side for 2 sets. If you are able to do a more advanced version then use a handheld weight.

 

High Touches

13342100_663703447104282_1359318647_n.jpgThe key to this exercise is to do it slowly and very controlled. Start by lying on your back and gently reaching your arm over to the opposite leg. Lower your leg down to a few inches off the ground and then repeat 10 times for 2 sets. Again, if you are able to do a more advanced version then use a handheld weight.

 

Mountain Climbers

13340664_663703320437628_1152002597_o.jpgMountain climbers are a good exercise for both your obliques and also a bit of a cardio. Start in a plank position then alternately bring your legs towards your hands. Try to keep a fast pace and continue doing so for a full minute. Repeat this twice.

15 minute ab workout

My ab routine has varied a lot over time but my most recent workout targets both your upper and lower core, as well as your obliques. If you are looking to tone up your abs but have a limited amount of time to dedicate each day, then this routine is perfect. It takes 15 minutes and is suitable for completing both at home and at the gym.

 

Weighted Leg Raises-
Start in a plank position with your arms directly above your head. I usually use a weight of around 4kg-6kg, but you will still feel your abs burning without one. You then need to lift up and bring your arms to meet your feet, then lower yourself back down without your feet touching the floor. This move targets both your upper and lower core due to the leg movement, so if you’re a beginner then 2 sets of 5 reps with a weight and 3 sets of 5 reps without a weight is a good start.

 

Weighted Crunches-
Similar to the leg raises, but you start this exercise with your feet planted firmly on the floor. After raising your arms above your head you then need to lift up as far as you can towards your knees, ensuring you keep your arms in the air the whole time. This move effectively targets your upper core and your obliques. Reps wise, some people find this exercise more effective than others so, as a minimum, try 3 sets of 5 then increase sets until you can feel your upper core tighten.

 

Russian Twists-
If you haven’t got a weight available at home then any heavy object you can hold is suitable for this exercise. Once you have crossed and balanced your legs off the ground, and sat at a comfortable 45 degree angle, slowly move the weight from side to side. This targets both your lower and upper core, but is more effective for your oblique muscles. As a beginner try 2 sets of 6 (each side) with a heavy weight and then increase the reps as the exercise becomes easier.

 

Side to Side Heel Touches-
This exercise is insanely good for targeting your lower core and obliques. With your shoulders off the ground reach to the side and touch your right hand with your right leg, and vice versa, for 3 sets of 15 touches per side. The key to getting the most out of this exercise is the pace, you should aim to complete the 15 touches in 20 seconds in order to see the most definition.

 

Forward Heel Touches-
Similar to the side to side heel touches, apart from you start in a crunch position. You need to pull yourself forwards using your abs, touch both your heels consecutively then lower yourself back down. Again, the key to this exercise is pace but only because if you lose the momentum of pulling yourself up then the exercise becomes far more difficult. 2 sets of 10 is a good place to start then increase your reps by 1 or 2 each time.

 

Ab Wheel-
Ab Wheels are not only great for your upper core and obliques but also for your lower back and your shoulders. You should start off with your knees on the floor and your arms out-stretched on the handles of the wheel. Then slowly push your weight against the wheel for as far as you can go then bring yourself back in. This is one of the more difficult exercises where, even now, I can still only manage 2 sets of 10, so for a complete beginner try 1 set of 6 then increase as you feel yourself becoming stronger. You can buy ab wheels off Ebay / Amazon or in the likes of Tesco.

 

Plank to Raised Plank-
Personally, I find that just doing the plank doesn’t really affect by abs much and that the variation brings a lot more definition. Start in a normal plank position then use one arm to bring yourself up to a vertical arm position, then bring the other arm up so you’re in a press up position. Continue with this move for 15 seconds if you’re a complete beginner and 30 seconds if you’re used to completing the plank. Try to keep up a decent pace and ensure that your back is completely horizontal the whole time.

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10 exercises which actually make your bum bigger

If you’re fed up of trailing through fitness websites, instagram pages & you tube videos to find that the exercises still leave your bum looking the EXACT  same, then these are for you. I have tried SO many different exercises in order to try and get that Kim K bum but these are my top 10 for actually producing results.

Deadlifts- Known by some as the ‘devil’, this exercise is the one which has you struggling to walk down the stairs the next morning. This is because if done correctly, they target your glutes, hamstrings, lower back and abdominal region. The absolute key to performing deadlifts as part of your routine is technique. Your back needs to be kept completely straight throughout, and your head needs to be kept up to ensure maximum results, but also to prevent injury. Using a barbell around 5kg heavier than what you use for your weighted squats will be sufficient.

Jump Squats onto an elevated platform This exercise is often overlooked but it’s great for targeting your glutes, as well as firming the thighs and calves. If you invest your full efforts into these squats then they can also burn a shedload of calories. As a beginner you should aim for the bench to be around the height of your ankle to your kneecap then as you get more advanced you can increase the height from your ankle to the top of your thigh. Try to use your arms when you lift off to exert more power and make sure you keep your abdominal muscles sucked right in.

‘In/Out’ Squats with Resistance Bands- A fairly modern exercise for your glutes but nonetheless extremely worthwhile. The use of a resistance band is similar to the act of swimming, you are going against the natural force of your muscle which therefore encourages it to build and strengthen the longer you choose to do. You should start with your feet shoulder width apart then jump out with both legs then quickly jump back in ensuring you keep as low as possible to get the most out of the bands.

13150067_653843151423645_639655395_n (1).jpgWeighted Back Squats The common mistake people can make when it comes to squats is that simply squatting with your own bodyweight only shapes and tones your glutes, effectively making them smaller. Therefore if you’re looking to build up your glute muscles (aka make your bum bigger) then weighted back squats are one of the best ways to do it. If you’re a complete beginner then starting off with a weighted barbell of around 5kg-10kg and then slowly increasing the weight will gradually get you the results you want to see without causing damage to the muscle.

Walking Lunges with Weight- Lunging with a dumbell as you walk intensely works your thighs, hamstrings and your glutes. Using alternate legs then meeting in the middle for around 4 lengths of 10 reps is sufficient for a beginner then as you get more confident you can switch to a  heavier weight and increase your reps. This exercise isn’t one which requires extreme strength or power but it certainly enables you to feel the difference in the shaping of your bum.

Weighted Donkey Kicks- This being one of the more difficult exercises you only want to start off with around 10 reps then a break then another 10 reps for your first session. Using the squat cage you should have the barbell at around 15kg-20kg with a mat underneath. On your hands and knees with one leg half bent up against the bar you should use your strength to extend your leg fully, therefore pushing the bar up with you. This exercise directly targets every aspect of your glutes so its not unusual to feel extremely achy after the first time.

Barbell Hip Thrust- Lying on your back you should lay a barbell of around 20kg-25kg across your pelvis then gently thrust your bum up towards the ceiling. When you have gone as high as you can manage you should hold the barbell in place for 3 counts before lowering yourself back down to just above floor level. You should aim to repeat this for 20 reps.

Body Weight Squat Pulses- Doing high intensity Squat Pulse reps as one of your final few exercises will round off your workout nicely by releasing all the tension in the glutes from the heavy weighted squats. Simply place your feet shoulder width apart and squat as low as you can but instead of coming all the way back up to a vertical position you should hold yourself around half way and then continue to pulse for around 20 counts.

Pistol Squat- The Pistol Squat is a key exercise into improving your balance. With one leg planted on the floor and the other horizontal in the air reach out as if you wanted to touch your toes mid-air and then squat to the ground. For your first session 10 reps on each leg will be more than sufficient. This exercise is not only good for your calves, hamstrings and glutes its also good for your abdominal muscles.

3 minute High Gradient Walk on the Treadmill- Generally most people see walking as a way to tone and make their bum smaller rather than increase it in size but a high gradient makes all the difference. Having the gradient on 8/9 on your standard treadmill forces the glutes to work 10 times harder in order to keep up with your legs and vice versa therefore building muscle in nearly every area from the waist down. This exercise will work the best for you either at the beginning of the workout or as a cool down at the end.