5 Upper Body Warm Up Exercises

Last time we talked about the importance of a proper warm-up and the elements of a good warm-up. As a summary, a good warm-up should prep your muscles for activity, decrease chances of overuse injuries, and help to prevent injury during activities. You can read about the lower body warm-up here. As promised, this time we will focus on a thorough upper body warm-up.
Here are five exercises that will help take you through a proper upper body warm-up.

1. Lat Release

The latissumis dorsi is a big muscle with attachments to the arm, shoulder blade, and the pelvic bone. Turning this muscle on will help your core to stabilize the body with all dynamic movements.

  • Lying on your side place a foam roller or lacrosse ball under your armpit.
  • Move up and down allowing the ball or roller to mobilize the soft tissue of the latissimus dorsi.
  • Next, move your arm in a punching motion forward and backward, also up and down.
  • Continue to move the ball around to tender spots and do these movements for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.

Lat Release
Lat Release


2. Pec Release

Releasing the pec will help to open up the chest and place the shoulder blades in a good position so you can efficiently use all 17 muscles that attach to the scapula.

  • Stand facing the wall. Then place a lacrosse ball two inches below the collarbone and towards your armpit.
  • Move the ball right and left until you find a tender area. Next, move your arm and shoulder forward and back, then up and down. Lean your body into the ball as tolerated.
  • Do these movements for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.

pec release

3. Wall Dips

This exercise will elongate the latissimus dorsi muscle under tension prepping it for future use.

  • Stand facing wall, palm of hand pushing against wall, fingers facing out horizontally with thumb pointing up, feet hip width apart (you can softly bend you’re your knees).
  • Bring your hips back (away from wall) as you push into the wall with your palm and drop chest towards the floor with your shoulder down. Repeat. Perform one set of 15.

front wall dips
front wall dips

4. Ball Overhead

As with the Wall Dips, this exercise will also elongate the lats under tension but also adds the benefit of engaging the core.

  • Lie on your back and keep your back flat to the floor. Your knees should be bent to 90°, and keep your feet flat on the ground. While holding a medicine ball (or any other ball you might have like soccer or volleyball) lock your elbows and raise arms straight towards the ceiling until directly over your chest.
  • Punch up toward ceiling (bring your shoulders off the ground), hold punch, bring your arms over head as far as you are able, then bring it back towards your knees slowly. Repeat. Perform one set of 15.

Ball over head
Ball over head

5. Standing W’s using a band

This exercise will facilitate good motion to both shoulder blades and help to strengthen our postural muscles, which we all need.

  • Stand tall, feet shoulder width apart with slack in knees, abs tightened, arms bent at the elbows forming a ‘W’, thumbs/fingers up.
  • Grab resistance band while keeping palms forward, squeeze shoulder blades together (pinch them down and back), bring wrists straight back with elbows pointing toward the ground, hold for 3 seconds. Repeat. Perform one set of 15.

Standing W
On days you do a full body workout, you can combine the lower body and upper body warm-up.