Coming into the March Madness Final Four, all of you non-televised ballers have to be itching for some hoops.

You're probably already walking around the house breaking in your new kicks or testing your mad hops and slapping anything that even reminds you of a hoop.

Well hold on Magic whatever-your-name-is, you don't want to risk injury. Remember, warming up is important for optimized performance and safety.

All you other athletes and fitness geeks need to listen up too. Whether you're preparing for game time or getting ready for a killer workout, starting cold is the easiest path to an underwhelming performance.

9 Fun And Effective Ways To Warm Up

Coming into the March Madness Final Four, all of you non-televised ballers have to be itching for some hoops.

We all want to get right into the action dropping trey balls, picking pockets, and cleaning house all night, but your warm-up can mean the difference between playing the game and having game.

So make sure you try one of these 9 fresh and effective warm-up methods brought to you by the warm-up gurus and fitness freaks at

Warm ups are all about efficiency, so let's cut to the chase: What do industry experts such as Joe Dowdell, CSCS; Jennifer Nicole Lee; Alicia Marie; and George Mitropetros recommend?

1. Keep It Dynamic

Joe Dowdell, CSCS, founder and CEO of Peak Performance, recommends starting with dynamic movements.

These include exercises such as the forward lunge, lateral squat, hand walk, or arm circles.

After that, move right into 3 sets of 15-yard linear skips. Follow that up with 3 sets of 15-yard Carioca to finish it off. Your body is now primed for workout performance!

2. Jump Around

Fitness author and expert Jennifer Nicole Lee says 5 consecutive minutes of jumping rope at a mild to brisk tempo is all you need.

When you long for a good workout but are short on time, a little jump rope session will get your heart rate and body temperature up, putting you smack-dab in the fat-burning zone.

If you can't do the full 5 minutes at first, start with what you can do, and then build from there.

9 Fun And Effective Ways To Warm Up

A little jump rope session will get your heart rate and body temperature up, putting you smack-dab in the fat-burning zone.

3. Tune It Up And Turn It Up

Fitness queen Alicia Marie wants you to set whatever your warm up is to music. She says this is a great way to place your mind on the right "track" for the workout ahead.

Use some "oldies but goodies," like AC/DC's Back in Black or Pharoahe Monch's Simon Says for weight training, as well as some good R&B and hip hop for the cardio.

Rocky had "Gonna Fly Now" and "Eye of the Tiger"-what's your theme song?

4. Alicia Marie's Functional Balance Challenge

Try doing one warm-up set of a balance exercise that mimics the actual training exercises you'll be doing.

Great examples include single-leg deadlifts with a dumbbell in the hand opposite the leg you're standing on, or bent-over rows while standing on the flat side of a BOSU trainer.

Always try a warm-up set that uses the muscles you plan to work in a stabilizing way!

5. Back To The Jacks

George Mitropetros, trainer of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena star Nick Tarabay, has got a fun throwback warm-up that works the whole body - jumping jacks! Wait, those things we used to do as kids? You got it.

They work your legs, core, and heart at the same time. Depending on your access to equipment and goals, do a 5-to-10 minute warm-up followed by light stretching of the body parts on that day's training log. Consider foam-rolling the specific areas to maximize their performance potential.

Remember, warm-ups are not intended to be part of the workouts. Break a brief sweat but don't work so hard that you build up lactic acid; save your energy for the actual workout. Your tempo should be quick and to the point.

This promotes blood flow and readies your heart for more work. Imagine your body as a hot rod ready to do a quarter-mile drag at full power, but in order to fulfill that potential, you need to warm up those slicks and make them nice and sticky!

6. Swing Into Action

Using swinging movements is a great way to loosen up your muscles and joints so they are primed for handling heavy resistance.

Your muscles and joints are like rubber bands - they'll snap when cold, but if warmed up, they'll be resilient, responsive and flexible.

So for all you would-be "swingers," check out these exercises to prepare for a great workout.

7. Animal Instincts

Animals have to ensure their bodies are in prime condition just to survive, so we decided to deliver some wild exercises brought to you by the beasts!

Pick three or four exercises that will use the muscles you plan to train and unleash your inner animal:

8. Yoga And The World's Greatest Stretch

The "world's greatest stretch" is actually official name of this move, which exercises multiple muscles and involves numerous fluid movements.

It's a great, quick warm up and flexibility enhancer.

If you're looking for a stretch routine to really sync your mind, body and spirit in preparation for a big game or awesome workout, you can also check out many of the standard yoga positions to help you out.

Downward Facing Dog, Child's Pose, Warrior Pose ... these are just a few of the many unique and effective stretches yoga has to offer! Take 15 minutes and stretch for elastic excellence.

9. The Perfect Medicine For Your Warm-Up

We've all seen those medicine balls lying around the gym, receiving little but odd, passing stares. However, medicine balls are great for warming up.

We've provided a bunch of full-body medicine ball exercises for use as warm ups, but tons of other exercises can be done. There's something for everyone.

Top 7 Medicine Ball Exercises

About the Author

C.J. Sower

C.J. Sower

C.J. Sower is a local health nut with an addiction to life and fitness. It's this enthusiasm that keeps his head up and training hard...

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