So you just walked into the gym, took off your coat, put on your gym shoes, and are ready to get started. As you walk to the fitness floor you see two people who came in just before you starting their workouts. The first person is sitting on the floor leaning forward reaching for their toes. The second person has been jogging in place and just started performing a movement you heard the trainers say is called "high knees".
What now? How should you start your routine? What's better?
The first person, sitting on the ground reaching for their toes, is doing something that we've all heard about before, stretching. Believe it or not, Stretching is NOT something that you should be doing before your workouts. When you stretch you forcefully are lengthening your muscle tissue. While good for your flexibility, it's not so good for preparing to exercise.
What you really want to be doing in order to be best prepared for your workout is perform what is called a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up is done by using your own body weight to get ready. A great dynamic warm-up will not only prepare your body to move, but it will prepare you to move in all directions. Front to back, side to side, and even diagnally. A dynamic warm-up will actually activate your muscles by increasing your internal temperature and start helping your muscles to "fire" on all cylinders so that you'll be able to get the most out of your workouts.
My favorite dynamic warm-up includes; high knees, butt kicks, skipping(forward and back), shuffling side to side, and lunges with an upper body rotation(forward and back).
Now that's not all that goes into making the best dynamic warm-up, but it's a really good start!
Give it a try for your next workout and see what it does for you. Good Luck!
P.S. it's not supposed to be really easy. It's supposed to make you sweat and help challenge your body to get better.