Photo: Vadym Pastukh via 123RF

Prepping your body and muscles before a workout is essential for increasing blood flow and raising your body temperature. Cooling your muscles down post-workout is crucial to increasing flexibility, regulating heart rate, and reducing the risk of injury.

Here are the easiest and most essential moves to rev up your engine pre-workout and relax those muscles after.

Warm-Up Moves

Shoulder Rolls

Stand straight as you roll your shoulders back slowly in a circular motion with your hands down by your side for about 20 to 30 seconds.

These are an excellent way to prep your body before an upper-body workout. If you’ve been experiencing tension in your shoulders and arms, it’s an efficient cool-down as well.

Hip Rotations

In a standing position, raise one leg above your knee and bend upwards towards your chest in a circular motion. Rotate between each leg for about 20 to 30 seconds.

Hip rotations are essential before a leg and glute workout, as they help prevent injuries in your hips and knees.

Plank Walk Out

Also known as the inchworm, start in a standing position as you use your hands to crawl out into a plank position. From the plank, repeat backward and use your hands and legs to walk back into a standing position. Repeat about 10 to 20 times. Plank walkouts are a higher-intensity exercise helping stretch and work your core, upper body, and glutes.

Similar to a burpee, plank walkouts are a good warm-up for your core, legs, and upper body. This exercise helps increase blood circulation and heart rate before any targeted workout.

Squats

Your booty and thighs need squats, ladies and gents. You can intensify squats by adding weights but are an essential warm-up before starting any leg or glute exercise. They’re an excellent booster for a hike, skiing, running, or any high-intensity workout.

In a standing position, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Stack your glutes out as you bend your knees and use your booty to lower your hips as you dip down. Repeat about 20 times. Make sure your toes and feet are facing forward and that your chest is open, keeping your back neutral to avoid injury.

Jumping Jacks

Despite the grueling thought of jumping jacks, this nostalgic exercise is one of the most efficient full-body workouts, targeting almost every major muscle in your body. Other than that, they burn a significant amount of calories, improve mobility and coordination, increase bone density and hip strength.

From a standing position and your arms by your side, raise your arms while spreading your legs as you jump. Try it with a jump rope if you’re feeling adventurous.  

Photo: Vadym Drobot via 123RF

Cool-Down Moves

Cat-Cow Stretch

On all fours in a tabletop position, inhale into a “cow” with your back arched upward, extending your arms, then exhale into a “cat” arching your back downwards; repeat for 20-30 seconds.

This pose improves focus and stability in the brain and your physical health. It should be an essential stretch incorporated into your routine, especially if you’re prone to back pain and soreness.

Neck Roll

Roll your head back and forth from one side to the other for about 10-15 seconds. Neck rolls decrease tension in your spine, neck, and upper shoulders.

Loop your arms behind your back as you do it to get an extra stretch on your mid, lower back, and arms.

Seated Spinal Twist

As you sit upright with your back straight, lift one knee to your chest as you twist your arms around your raised leg. Repeat with each leg about 10 to 15 times.

This stretch improves digestion while gently massaging your internal organs and decreasing tension in your back and hips. It’s a particularly great movement for menstrual cramps and abdomen discomfort.

Seated Glute Stretch

From a seated position with your back straight, extend your legs in front of you. Bring one foot over your thigh as you bow your head to your ankles. Switch legs and repeat about 10-15 times.

This stretch is essential after a glute and leg workout to relieve tension and pressure put on your hamstrings. It increases flexibility, prevents injury, and releases stress from your body, making it ideal for runners and joggers in particular.

Child Pose

Child’s Pose is the perfect way to end any workout, regardless of its intensity. It’s a classic yoga pose that helps relax your entire body and mind while stretching your legs, thighs, back, and core. It helps improve digestion, blood circulation, and overall tension.

As you rest on your knees in a seat position, lower your forehead to your thighs in an exhale. Make sure your knees are far apart to avoid tension in your abdomen. Continue inhaling and exhaling for about 20 to 30 seconds.