Session 1 Warm-up and Full-Body Stretches

What are warm-ups?

Think of your body as a car engine. Just like you let a car run a bit before driving so the engine warms up, your body needs to get ready for intense physical activity. Warm-ups involve simple, gentle movements that make sure your muscles and joints are all set for action.

Warming up has multiple benefits! It makes your blood flow better, helps your muscles stretch nicely, makes your joints move smoother, wakes up your nervous system, and even gets your mind ready.

What is stretching?

When you stretch, you’re gently pulling on your muscles to make them longer and more flexible. Stretching helps your body feel less tight and more comfy, and it’s especially good to do before AND after physical activity.

Why is stretching a good idea? Well, it makes you more flexible, helps you avoid getting hurt, makes your body stand and move better, and even helps you relax and feel less stressed.

There are three important terms to know when it comes to stretching:

Pre-Contraction Stretching: Pre-contraction stretching is when you gently tense or “contract” the muscle you’re about to stretch just before you actually stretch it. It’s like giving your muscle a little squeeze before you lengthen it. This can help your muscle relax and stretch better. It’s a bit like warming up the muscle before asking it to stretch.

Static Stretching: Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for a little while without moving. It’s like giving your muscles a gentle pull to make them longer. Static stretching is good for making your muscles more flexible and calm.

Dynamic Stretching: Dynamic stretching is when you move your body while you stretch. Instead of holding a position, you’re doing stretches in motion. Dynamic stretching helps warm up your muscles and joints, and it’s like getting them ready to move.

Be careful not to stretch too much for too long, especially if it feels uncomfortable. That could hurt your muscles. It’s better to hold stretches for a medium amount of time, around 15 to 60 seconds. It’s okay if you feel a little bit of a stretch or pull when you’re stretching, but if it starts to hurt, make sure you stop right away. When you stretch, stick to what feels comfortable for you. If you push too much, it might lead to overstretching and cause injury.

Why should I warm up or stretch?

Think of warm-ups and stretching as really important parts of our exercise routine. You shouldn’t leave them out. If you do, it could cause problems depending on how your body is, what exercise you’re doing, and if you’re already a bit hurt. Skipping them might make you more likely to get hurt, not do as well in your exercise, have muscles that don’t work right, not move your body as well, have weird posture, and take longer to get better.

Ready to begin warming up?

Level 1 Beginner


Marching in place is a great way to prepare your lower body for action! Lift your knees high and swing your arm on the opposite side. This helps you get ready for more energetic exercises.

Source: Rehab My Patient

Doing side bends is one warm-up for your core muscles, especially the ones on your sides. Keep one arm at your side and reach down your leg. It also makes your spine more flexible and helps you twist and bend better, which is useful for activities where you need to move in different directions.

Source: Cioffredi & Associates Physical Therapy

Shoulder rotations can help warm up your arms. Try this: put your arms out to the sides like wings and make little circles. This can also help your neck and upper back feel less tight, which is good if you sit a lot.

Source: CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet


Stretching your hamstrings is really good for the muscles in your lower body. There are three ways you can do these stretches:

Seated Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the floor with one leg stretched out in front of you and the other leg bent to the side. Bend forward from your hips, reaching towards your outstretched leg. You’ll feel a pull in the back of your thigh. Stay in this position for about 30 seconds, then relax. Do the same for your other leg.

Standing Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one leg a bit in front of the other. Slightly bend the knee of the leg behind you and lean forward from your hips. You’ll feel a stretch in the front of your straight leg. You can put your hands on the leg that’s bent for balance. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the other leg. If you want an even bigger stretch, you can put the leg you’re stretching on a chair.

Lying Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back. If your lower back hurts, you can put a rolled-up towel under it. Bend the knee of the leg you want to stretch and hold the back of your thigh. Gently pull your leg toward your body, while keeping your knee bent a little bit, like 20 degrees. You’ll feel the stretch in your hamstring. Hold for about 30 seconds. Then switch to the other leg.

Doing these stretches regularly can make your muscles more flexible, reduce tension, and help your lower body feel better. Remember to go slowly and not push too hard to avoid hurting yourself.

Source: BraceAbility

Cobra to Child’s Pose is a common move in yoga where you change from lying on your tummy with your chest up (Cobra Pose) to sitting back on your heels with your arms stretched out in front of you (Child’s Pose).

This change helps make your spine more flexible, eases physical and mental tension, and helps you feel more mindful.

Source: Holistic Physio Fitness

Stretching your shoulders can make your neck, upper back, and shoulders feel better. Sit or stand up straight, lift one arm to the side, and use your other hand to gently pull it across your body towards your opposite shoulder. This stretch helps relax tight muscles and gets you ready for upper body exercises.

Source: CCGI

Level 2 Intermediate Dynamic Stretches

Leg swings can act as both a warm-up and a stretch. It wakes up your hip muscles, makes your legs move better, and gets you ready for leg exercises. It also helps you become more flexible, move your joints better, and increase balance. (You can try it without any supports, such as a wall and chair, to challenge your balance.)

Source: Penn State Health

Lunge twists are a stretch that helps your legs. Step one foot forward and bend your knees to make a lunge. Put your hands together and twist your upper body gently. Lunge twist engages multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, as well as core muscles.

Source: Leap Fitness

Level 3 Advanced Stretching

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a common stretching technique. It is a way to make your muscles and brain work together better. Here is how it works:

1. Push and Relax: First, you gently push your muscle against something, like a partner’s hand or the floor. It’s like flexing your muscle a little bit. Then, you relax that muscle.
2. Strong Pull: Next, your partner helps you pull that muscle in the opposite direction while you try to resist, as if you’re playing tug-of-war. Your muscle gets even more stretched, but you’re working against it.
3. Relax Again: After that, you let go and relax your muscle. This is when your muscle feels like it’s getting longer and more flexible.

So, PNF stretching is like a teamwork exercise between your muscles and your brain. It helps your muscles become more flexible and can make your movements smoother.

The PNF “Hold-Relax” technique:

Hold: First, you gently push your muscle against something, like a wall or the floor.
Relax: Then, you let go and relax that muscle.
Stretch: Now, you or a friend gently helps you stretch that muscle a bit more.

Source: AIF Education

The PNF “Contract-Relax” technique:

Contract: You gently tense or push your muscle, like giving it a little squeeze.
Relax: Then, you let go and relax that muscle.
Stretch: Now, you or a friend gently helps you stretch that muscle a bit more.

Source: BSR Physical Therapy


PERFORM: Warm up and stretch your body properly before performing more intense exercises.

CHOOSE: Based on your demands and comfort levels, choose the proper forms and levels of warm-ups/stretches that suit you.

FOLLOW: Listen to your body and follow what it says. DO NOT overstretch yourself, which may cause further strains and injuries.

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