How To Warm Up Arms Before Workout? (4 Best Exercises)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: November 25, 2023
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As a health and performance coach specializing in performance psychology, I've seen firsthand how a well-planned arm warm-up can significantly enhance both physical and mental readiness for a workout.

Drawing from my academic background in Sport & Exercise Science and practical experience, I collaborated with physical therapists to develop these scientifically-backed arm warm-up exercises.

Today, I'll share insights grounded in both science and practice on how to warm up your arms effectively, including four exercises that have proven beneficial for my clients.

Let's get started.

Quick Summary

  • To properly warm up arms before a workout, engage in exercises like T-Arm Exercises, Incline Push-Ups, Resistance Band Pulls, and Shoulder Pull-Ups.
  • Warm-up exercises enhance flexibility, lower injury risk, and improve blood and oxygen flow, making movements smoother and more effective.
  • Studies in journals like the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine emphasize that a proper warm-up significantly reduces injury risk.
  • From my personal coaching experience, a thorough warm-up, especially for the arms, is crucial for maximizing workout performance and preventing injuries.

Steps to Warm-up Properly

A person stretching his arm

A warm-up session of around 10 minutes ought to be sufficient for most people looking to warm muscles and loosen joints.

To get your body warm and reap the most out of your arm warm-up, remember to:

  • Begin your arm circles warm-up before your upper body workout session.
  • Work on the big muscle groups, like your shoulders, to activate the cardiovascular system.
  • Start softly, then pick up the pace or intensity as you proceed.
  • Work out till you are sweating but not exhausted.
  • Focus on deep, controlled breathing to relax your body and increase oxygen flow to your muscles.
  • Take your time and don't rush through the exercises without full engagement.

"The best warmups are the exercises similar to your routine for the day."

- Liz Letchford, Certified Athletic Trainer

4 Arm Warm Up Exercises

a woman stretching her arms

Based on my extensive coaching, here are four arm exercises that are particularly effective for warming up, tried and tested in both gym and sports settings.

1. T-Arm Exercises

Position your arms sideways on an exercise ball, legs stable, and hip-width apart. Raise your arms to form a "T" with your body, feeling the upper-back muscles engage. Lower them after a brief hold.

Aim for 8–10 reps.

2. Incline Push-Ups

Incline push-ups are ideal for prepping for push-ups and shoulder presses. Place your palms on a sturdy surface and assume a high plank.

Lower your torso by bending your elbows outwards until they align with your shoulders, then push back up. This also activates your lower body.

Perform 6–10 reps.

3. Resistance Band Pulls

Great for 'pulling' exercise warm-ups like rows and curls. Seated, attach a band to a pole at shoulder level. With straight arms, pull the band towards your chest, keeping your elbows out. Return to start.

Do 6–12 reps.

4. Shoulder Pull-Ups

Perfect for overhead presses. Using a resistance band attached at shoulder height, start with arms out front and slightly bent elbows. Lift to form a "Y," engaging your core and keeping a straight back. Return after a pause.

Repeat for a few sets.

Benefits of Arm Warm-up Exercises

A person using a resistance band to stretch his arm

Here's why you should always warm up your upper arms before your exercise routine:

  • Greater flexibility: It may be simpler to move and exercise properly if you are more flexible.
  • Lower injury risk: By allowing your muscles to relax, warming up can help you sustain fewer injuries, according to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine journal [1].
  • Improved blood and oxygen flow: Static stretching and jumping jacks help increase your heartbeat and blood flow, which enables your muscles to receive the nutrition they require before engaging in more strenuous activity, as per a study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology [2].

Here's what a proper warm-up brings:

  • Enhanced performance: According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, working out with warmed-up core muscles is more productive [3].
  • A wider range of motion: Your entire body and joints can move more thoroughly if you have a more comprehensive range of motion.
  • Less pain and tensed muscles: Warm and relaxed muscles may make it easier for you to move and cause less discomfort or stiffness, based on a study from The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy [4].
  • Mental Preparation: An adequate warm-up not only prepares the body but also mentally prepares you for the workout ahead.


What Is a Pre-Activation Warm-Up?

A pre-activation warm-up is a technique that turns on a particular muscle or conditions it with a few exercises before an intense workout.

What Should I Do Before Arm Day?

You should plan your workout schedule (sets and reps) before arm day.

Should You Warm Up Your Biceps?

Yes, you should warm up your biceps. This loosens up the muscles in that area and prevents injury when lifting.

How Long Should Your Warm-ups Last?

Your warm-up should last 3 to 15 minutes depending on the time of day and physical condition. It should activate all main muscle groups, with longer sessions advised in the morning or if you're cold, sore, or have been inactive.


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