Phrasal Verbs Lesson 3

In lesson three we’re going to look at how some phrasal verbs that are used for sports and exercise. The phrasal verbs that we’re going to use today are: work out, warm up, look after, and catch up.

Here’s the conversation:


(Jim is a personal trainer)

Jim: OK, so after you warm up properly we’re going to start.

Sarah: What are we going to do today?

Jim: Well, you need to catch up on what you missed last week, so we’re going to do an extended workout.

Sarah: OK, let’s get started!

(after the workout)

Jim: That was great. It was tough today so you’ll need to look after yourself for the next couple of days and not do anything too strenuous.

Sarah: Can I work out tomorrow or should I just rest?

Jim: You can work out tomorrow, but keep it easy, maybe go for a light jog or a walk. I’d wait for a couple of days before going back into it.

Sarah: OK, great. See you next week!

Warm Up

The phrasal verb ‘warm up’ is used a lot in sports and it means to lightly exercise to prepare yourself for physical exercise. ‘Warm up’ is also the noun, for example:

  • You should do a warm up.
  • You should warm up.
  • I always try to warm up before my game.
  • We did a long warm up yesterday.

Let’s look at a video that discusses warming up and uses both the noun and the verb:

(0:14) ‘Yes, you definitely do need to warm up before exercise.’
(0:18) ‘What warming up does is gets the muscles and the joints ready for whatever activity we’re about to do.’
(0:24) ‘The key with your warm up is that it needs to mimic the activity you’re about to do.’
(1:02) ‘So yes, definitely warm up and make the warm up specific to the exercise you’re going to be doing.’

In this last statement, the speaker uses both the verb and the noun in one sentence.

Catch Up

To catch up means that some is behind schedule or someone (in a race for example) and needs to get to the current level. In our conversation above, Sarah is behind schedule and needs to catch up to the level she should be at.

Here are some more examples:

  • (Teacher to a student) You have missed a lot of classes so you really need to catch up.
  • I’ve finally caught up with my college project!

As a noun, to have a ‘catch up’ means to meet with a friend(s) and talk about what has been happening recently:

  • I haven’t seen you for ages, let’s have a catch up.
  • We need a catch up, are you free this week?

And for those who like jokes, the following clip from Pulp Fiction uses the the phrasal verb catch up:

For those who don’t understand, ‘catch up’ sounds like ketchup.

Look After

In the conversation, to ‘look after yourself ’ means to take care of your body, making sure you don’t do anything to strenuous. The phrase, ‘look after your body’ is also common:

  • You need to look after your body, your health is really important.
  • When I was younger I didn’t look after my body, but now I eat well and exercise a lot.

This phrasal verb is more commonly used when someone or something is under someone’s careful watch, for example:

  • Could you look after my dog this weekend? I’m going to a wedding in Newcastle.
  • You can borrow my car, but look after it!

Work Out

To ‘work out’ means to exercise. It’s an American term that is now used in most English speaking countries. As we saw in the conversation, ‘a workout’ is the noun and is all one word.

There are lots of different meanings for this phrasal verb including:

  • To develop or formulate something – Let’s work out what to do (let’s find the best way to do this).
  • To decipher something – I can’t work out your handwriting, what does this say?


Complete the sentences using the following phrasal verbs: warm up, catch up, look after, work out (only some are used twice).


1. She needs to _________ herself a little more.

2. Let’s try to _____ it ______ together.

3. I forgot to __________, so I think that’s why I got injured.

4. We have someone who can _________ our dogs for the summer.

5. I missed a lot of classes last year, so I need to _________.

6. I only _________ once last week.


1. look after

2. work / out

3. warm up

4. look after

5. catch up

6. worked out


How often do you work out?

What is your favorite workout?

Do you look after your body?

Do you warm up before exercising?

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