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  • West London PT

The Best Gym Warm-Up In 5 Minutes

Engage all your major muscle groups, increase your motivation and build your heart rate in less than five minutes using a simple low-impact routine.

Athletic man and woman using the plank position to warm up in a gym.

Why Warm Up?

Warm-ups are 100% necessary for an optimally safe and effective workout. The benefits of warming up include:

  • Reducing the risk of injury by gently engaging all major muscle groups.

  • Increasing the amount of synovial fluid that's cushioning your joints.

  • Open up your capillaries so that more blood can travel where it needs to.


How Difficult Should A Warm Up Be?

Whilst a warm-up should generally be low impact and without a heavy load, that doesn't mean it has to be easy. It's a great opportunity to set the tone for your workout; the pace and quality of a workout are often dictated by how you handle the first five minutes.

If you get your heart rate elevated and your muscles begin to burn, it will set you up for a great session. With that said, don't exhaust yourself. You want the intensity to peak at around a 7/10 before beginning your main workout.


The Best Gym Warm Up - Step By Step

From a technical standpoint, this warm-up is hard to beat. It hits your back, biceps, leg, core, chest and triceps whilst remaining low-impact. On average, it takes no more than five minutes to complete and is sure to get your heart rate up.

What's special about this warm-up is that it's self-motivating - way more than a typical sequence. That's because the harder you work on one exercise, the less time you'll have to spend on the next one.

Step 1: Timed 250 Metre Row

Step 2: Forearm Plank Position (For Time It Took To Complete Step 1)

Step 3: Timed 150m Row

Step 4: Commando Planks (For Time It Took To Complete Step 3)


Step 1: Timed 250 Metre Row

This engages your back, biceps and legs whilst elevating your heart rate. It should be a confident pace, but not an all-out sprint.


To use a rowing machine: sit, strap feet in, grab the handle, push back with legs, lean back slightly, pull the handle to the chest, return to starting position, and repeat.



On average, it will take between 45 and 75 seconds to row 250 metres.


Here's the twist: however long it takes you to complete the row is the same amount of time that you're going to hold the plank in the next phase.

Step 2: Forearm Plank Position.

This will engage your front abs (rectus abdominus) and shoulders, whilst promoting a healthy core alignment for the remainder of your workout. It should be held for the same number of seconds as it took for you to row 250m.


To do a forearm plank: rest your forearms on the ground, raise the knees off the floor, keep elbows under your shoulders, engage the core and hold the body straight.


Woman performing a forearm plank position.

If that's too difficult, you can go for a supported plank by placing your hands on an elevated surface, like a bench. Alternatively, you can go for half the number of seconds it took to complete Step 1.


Step 3: Timed 150m Row

By now you'll be feeling a lot warmer, so the Row is 100m shorter. You can now up the pace, and it should take around 35 seconds to comfortably complete.

The number of seconds it takes to row 150m will determine how long you spend on Step 4.

Step 4: Commando Planks

This continues to engage the core but also introduces load to the chest, shoulders and triceps. This phase is hard as the warm-up gets, so stay strong to the end!


To do a commando plank: start in a press-up position, lower onto your right forearm, then left. Return to the press-up position with your right hand, then left, and repeat. Be sure to change which arm you press up with each time.


If that's too difficult, you can practise them with your forearms on a bench or perform for half the time it took to row instead.

Once complete, grab some water and let your heart rate stabilise before getting into your workout.


When Should You Seek Help From A Pro?

Summoning the willpower to start your workout can be tough. If you feel that you're not achieving as much as you'd like to in your sessions, it might be time to seek some assistance. Personal trainers can help you optimise your strategy - from a technical and emotional standpoint. You can get in touch with me for a free consultation, and I'll do my best to help!

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