how to warm up properly

How To Warm Up Properly

 If you have a great warm up system, pass on this article. However, if your warm up is not helping you perform your best, or you’re somewhere in between a half effective warm up routine and decent warm up routine, hopefully this article will give you some direction to fine tune it.

 The first concept is to know that every warm up routine should be highly customized towards your performance art. You cannot just copy and paste from other routines so in this article we will focus on the principles to guide your thinking.

Let’s start with warming up the category that is most neglected


Warm up your mind

Performance mode

We must get into performance mode. Performance mode is where we are focused on our task, our brain is sharp and active artistically, feeling confident to be vulnerable, and mentally ready for anything that happens on stage. This is far from just our normal state of mind in life where we are typically more passive, focused on other tasks besides performance, feeling neutral, and going with the flow. This is why we must make a clear transition from normal life mode to performance mode


Warm up your body 

Body warm ups can be divided up into two general categories- gross motor skills and fine motor skills.

Gross motor skills are your larger movements such as moving your legs and arms.

 1.     Arm twists can get the blood flowing to your hands, especially if nerves take over and you get cold hands. Also, it’s great if you don’t have a chance to warm up at all. The least you can do are some body warm ups.

2.     Michael Phelps arm flaps get the blood flowing as well. It’s also gold medal proven- lots of times.

3.     Stretches are good once you get the blood flowing. You can open up your body and partially counter any inward posture you may subconsciously make because of nerves.

4.     Massages are also good at this time. If you have tension, gently release the tension.


Fine motor skills  are intricate movements like moving your fingers.

This is what you already probably incorporate, but let us quickly go through them.

Warm up your Technique and Basics

Warm up aspects like articulations, tone, intonation, or different speeds of scales.

Question: For your art form, what technique and basics do you need to warm up? 

Target Practice 

Warm up any difficult technical passages. 

Question: In your repertoire, What difficult technical passages do you need to warm up? 


Warm up Artistic Ideas 

To warm up your artistic ideas, you can use mental practice to go through repertoire to hear phrasings and timings etc. You can also physically practice artistic ideas as well. If you are physically tired, it’s probably good to use mental practice instead of further tiring out your body.

Now the last way to warm up artistically is to combine technique and artistry. What I mean by this is that it is not enough to just warm up technique and artistic ideas on their own. We must strive to create the connection between both. For example, I would simultaneously warm up the phrasing but also see if I’m using technique to translate my idea. Once I warm up this connection, I’ll be ready to perform.


Lastly, we have already begun creating or fine tuning your pre-performance routine. Routines are great to provide consistency. If you need help with them, I introduce the two levels of pre-performance routines in other videos and articles. Another important point is to allow plenty of time to warm up if you have it. Lastly, from this article, I hope you can see that a focused warm up session is just as powerful as a focused practice session. The results should reinforce the importance of solidifying and adjusting your warm up routine.