How To Plan An Effective Personal Training Session Warm Up

How To Plan An Effective Personal Training Session Warm Up

A personal training session warm up should never go overlooked, it is a vital step of the session that requires attention and stops your clients suffering from avoidable injuries. 

That's why we have put together a comprehensive guide on how to plan an effective warm up prior to your session, including:

Just before you continue, if you’re looking to get started in the fitness industry, why not consider OriGym’s recognised and accredited personal training courses? You can find this and many other health and fitness courses in our downloadable course prospectus here.


What To Consider When Planning Your Personal Training Warm Up 

personal training session warm up

First off, you should recognise the importance of an effective warm up and how this can affect overall performance if neglected. 

This is of course a holistic judgement, but something that you must consider is that your warm up should be working to assist in the delivery of that specific client’s programme. 

This means that if it is a session dedicated to the upper body, the stretching and warming up should be heavily focused in this area. This isn’t to say that you neglect other areas of the body since there will be a level of exertion in all areas of the body, but choose wisely on what muscles require the most preparation.

That being said, it shouldn’t take precedence over the session itself, the focus should be on the actual session. This is particularly important if you’re offering shorter sessions, for example, a 45 minute session will turn into a 30 minute session if you take up 15 minutes to warm up. Plus you have to take into consideration a cool down too. 

Ultimately, a good goal to have is to make your warm ups easy enough for your clients to remember, you can then give them a warm up routine to complete alone prior to the session. 

This way, your session can be dedicated to the important stuff that will make the most of your clients time.

How to Decide On The Right Style Of Personal Training Warm Up

personal training warm up

Before you instruct a generic personal training warm up, you should think about the style of training you need to use. There are 3 different types of warm ups that prepare the client for the relevant sessions. These include:

  • Functional Warm Up
  • Specific Warm Up
  • Performance Warm Up

Each of these types of warm ups are suitable for certain clients and their goals. So let’s take a look at what these consist of and how you could implement them.

Functional Warm Up

warm up personal training

Functional warm ups encapsulate the general prospect of what we imagine a ‘warm up’ consists of. 

It is essentially a dynamic warm up that intends to prepare the body for intense movement which in turn leads to triggers that include:

  • Improved muscle contraction and relaxation rates
  • Increased range of motion
  • Reduction of lactic build up

These are triggered due to the increase of the body’s internal temperature and in turn, will raise the heart rate, offer stretching capabilities for the main muscle groups of the body and prepare for a generic session ahead.  

This kind of warm up is suitable for a session that isn’t targeting particular muscle groups or is concentrated on a particular goal that requires more attention to a certain area of the body. This is good for reducing risk of injury and a full body workout.

Specific Warm Up

warm up for personal training session

Another one of the main types of warm ups includes what is often referred to as a specific warm up. 

This is a warm up technique that intends on mirroring the types of movements that you will be instructing in the session. 

This is what makes it specific, it is designed to target the areas that are to be focused on. This will mobilise the areas necessary so that recovery is faster and risk of injury is reduced.

A good way to know if you’re performing a specific warm up, is by doing the programmed exercises slower and less intense before getting into the actual exercise and adding intensity.

This is arguably a more purposeful style of warming up, it can start to get the muscles working in all the right places which means you can work a certain muscle group harder when the time is right without running any risks on your client.

Performance Warm Up

warm up ideas for personal trainers

Finally, you have performance warm ups which are often used for athletes. It is a warm up for clients who have a specific sport or goal and are training to perform at their peak. 

This warm up would be perfect for clients who take part in powerful strength training and high intensity programmes. This sort of warm up would prepare larger muscle groups in order to succeed in more powerful compound movements.

Similarly to specific warm ups, you could mirror the intended exercises at a lower intensity and for up to as long as 20 minutes gradually increasing the intensity. You can then seamlessly move into the more intense section of the programme.

As well as that, you can expect to be doing more skill based exercises that would contribute to the performance in a specific sport.


For some more useful information on how to be a better PT for everyone, head over to our articles below:

Personal Training Warm Up Ideas For Your Clients

personal training warm up ideas

Below, we have two personal training warm up ideas for each style of warm up. You can see the similarities and differences between the two and the kind of clients that they would be suitable for. 

Functional Warm Up 

stretching for PT session

By using dynamic stretching and gentle movements, you can prepare the client for a wide variety of exercises. The goal with this kind of warm up is to use the entire body and not over complicate it.

Example One

Client Type: Intermediate level client, experience in exercise, fit and healthy, middle aged.

The goal is to raise the client's heart rate, mobilise joints and stretch key muscle groups for a full body workout. This client is able to perform light exercise with ease and doesn’t have any objection to a short warm up. 

Duration: 8-10 Minutes

Programme Contents:

  • Treadmill: 5 minutes, 2 minutes ascending difficulty, 2 minutes descending.
  • Overhead tricep stretch: 8-10 second hold each time, repeat 3x.
  • Seated bicep stretch: 8-10 second hold each time, repeat 3x.
  • Lying Glute stretch: 8-10 second hold each time, repeat 3x.
  • Alternating bodyweight lunges: 30 seconds

Example Two

Client Type: Elderly client, suffers from arthritis but otherwise fit and healthy. They are joining you for a PT session to keep their joints active and assist in the management of symptoms of arthritis. 

They’re therefore happy to have a prolonged warm up if necessary, like if they’re having a flare up.

Be sure to check in regularly, if they feel like they need more time on a particularly aggravated area, provide this.

Duration: 10-12 Minutes

Programme Example:

  • Treadmill: 3 minutes walking, raise heart rate slightly. 
  • Hip circles: 5-8 circles on each side, repeat 3x.
  • Arm circles: Circle both arms forward for 15 seconds and backward for 15 seconds. 
  • Clam stretch: Slowly control the movement opening and closing, repeat 8x on each side.
  • Seated ankle circles: 15 seconds each side.

Specific Warm Up

warm up ideas for PT

These kinds of warm ups involve you mirroring the movements of a sport or specific exercise, using cardio and static/dynamic stretching. The clients that you’re doing this kind of warm up with would typically have specific goals and would often take part in intense workouts.

Example One

Client Type: Young and athletic client, enjoys resistance training. They want to move up a weight in their leg day sessions so you’re preparing for this in this warm up.

Duration: 10 minutes.

Programme Example:

  • Alternating lunges: 12 each side.
  • Power alternating lunges: Intend on raising the heart rate, 12 on each side.
  • Body weight squats: Repeat 12x.
  • Jumping squats: Repeat 12x
  • Glute bridge: Body weight only, 12x

Example Two

Client Type: This client enjoys a variety of high intensity sports. They enjoy playing rugby and football and are fit, young and healthy.

Duration: 8-10 minutes.

Programme Example:

  • Treadmill: Ascending intensity for 5 minutes, 2.5 minutes ascending 2.5 descending. 
  • Jumping lunges: Repeat 12x.
  • Skipping rope: 30 seconds, focus on agility.
  • Overhead tricep stretch: 10 second hold, repeat 3x.
  • Knee to chest stretch: 10 second hold, repeat 3x.

Performance Warm Up

warm up ideas for personal training clients

This is a warm up for personal training clients who require a more intensive session. Typically, it would involve cardio and intense HIIT exercises.

Example One

Client Type: Young and dedicated fitness enthusiast. Plays football regularly and intends on building muscle and dropping body fat percentage. It is important that they avoid any lower body injuries specifically.

Duration: 10 minutes.

Programme Example:

  • Leg swings: 12 swings each side, open up the hips and prepare the legs for weights. 
  • Knees to chest: hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3x.
  • Alternative power lunges: 20-30 seconds, repeat 3x.
  • Jumping squats: 20-30 seconds, repeat 3x.
  • Treadmill: 5 minutes light job, begin increasing heart rate and prepare for powerful movements. 
  • Skipping rope: Keep the intensity and raise the heart rate with 3-5 minutes skipping.

Example Two

Client Type: This client intends on increasing their overall strength and endurance. They regularly run and are training for a marathon. Young, fit and healthy.

Duration: 12-15 minutes

Programme Example:

  • Treadmill: Light jog for 5 minutes, begin to raise the heart rate.
  • Lunge with rotation: Using body weight only, reverse lunge and twist the body. 12 each side.
  • Skaters side to side: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Repeat 3x
  • Quad stretch: hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3x.
  • Glute stretch: hold for 15 seconds and repeat 3x.


Before You Go…

Hopefully you now feel confident in designing and distributing the correct personal training session warm up for your clients. It doesn’t have to be complicated, so long as you’re consistently checking in with your client on what feels right for them, you can’t go wrong!

Don’t forget, if you want to take the next step in your fitness career, why not check out OriGym’s personal training courses? Find this and many more in our downloadable course prospectus.


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Written by Kimberley Mitchell


Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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