Today, we’re going to take a closer look at one of the most easily disregarded parts of a training session: the warm up. Long gone are the days of using jumping jacks and static stretches to get ready for a workout. Instead, choose four or five of dynamic movements below and knock out one set of each. It’s easy, fast, and effective.
Quadruped Extension Rotation x8/side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ono1hPKZsiE
For this one, you’re going to start in the same position as a warm up movement I’ve talked about in the past: the bird dog. Drop down to all fours and place one hand behind your head. Push your elbow towards your other elbow, allowing your head and upper back to rotate with it. Now rotate your elbow up towards the ceiling, again allowing your head and upper back to rotate with it. Finally, return to the starting position. Make that your lower back and hips stay glued in place during the entire movement and that you follow your elbow with your eyes.
Triplanar Calf Stretch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9au8hLjXQ4
There’s nothing I dislike more than a needlessly long warm up, and that’s exactly why I’m such a big fan of this lower body movement. The triplanar calf stretch isn't just for your calf – it will hit your ankles, knees, hips, and all of the associated muscle groups. Stand in front of a wall, angled forward, with both feet flat on the floor and hands touching the wall. Bring your left knee to your chest then extend it back out. Repeat this movement 10 times. Now, holding your knee in front of you in a locked position, rotate your lower leg in and then out 10 times. Finally, use your hips to rotate and push your knee away from your body for another 10 reps. Repeat on the other side. If this was too confusing, take a look at the easy to follow video.
Single Leg Bridge, x8/side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-6Gonx2Wpo
In addition to acting as a great progression along the path towards single leg elevated hip thrusts, the single leg bridge is a handy warmup movement that can be used to kickstart your glutes. Start by dropping to the floor and laying flat on your back. Bend your knees and extend one leg out and off the ground. Squeeze your glutes, drive your planted heel into the floor, and raise your hips towards the ceiling. Pause for a second or two at the top, then return to the starting position. Single leg movements tend to cause all sorts of balance issues, so pay close attention to your hips – don’t let them tilt or dip.
TRX Sprinter’s Start, x8/side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgBS_LtLK48
If you have access to a TRX, this is a good way to get your lower body warmed up and ready to crank out some serious squats and deadlifts. Set the straps to long length, grab the handles from the outside so they tuck into your armpits, cock your elbows in to your side, and angle yourself forward. From here, step back with one leg, allowing the front knee to bend. Pause for a second, then step forward and raise your knee towards the ceiling. Finally, return to the start. Don’t let any excessive rotation happen and try to maintain a tight plank throughout the movement.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Mobilization, x8/side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJJeSaffTHg
There are so many hip stretches and mobilizations out there that it’s tough to choose a favorite, but this variation might be mine. Kneel down in front of a bench and raise your back foot onto the bench. This is the same as the bottom position of a Bulgarian split squat. Make sure your front leg is at a 90-degree angle. Now, slowly push your hips forward, pause for a second, then push them back. That’s one rep. If your hips feel extra distressed while performing these, try using a lower box or holding foot up with your hand.
Walking Lunge w/ Torso Twist, x8/side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qusKxD9dbU
This definitely isn’t an innovative movement, but people tend to ignore “real” exercises that are normally done with weight, like the lunge, when it comes to creating a warmup. Pro tip: simple is almost always better. To perform this non-loaded lunge warmup, start by lunging forward with your left leg, then pause in the bottom position. With hands together and arms locked out, rotate your torso in both directions. Return to the starting position and lunge forward with your right leg, repeating the pause and rotation. There’s not too much to pay attention to here, but make sure to keep your balance in check as you go.
Bodyweight Thruster, x10: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9lcNsWsLC4
I usually like to use the thruster as a killer finishing exercise, but it works equally well at the beginning of the workout, too. It’s a great way to prime your entire body – from your ankles to your shoulders – for a hard workout. Start in a soft, athletic stance with feet about shoulder-width apart. Drop into a squat, hit just below parallel, and explode up. As your body moves upward, allow your hands to raise above your head, like you’re performing a shoulder press. That’s one rep.
Spider Pushup, x5/side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAJ4rX__5W0
Similar to the thruster, the spider pushup is a great way to combine upper and lower body movements to create a time-friendly warmup exercise. Start by dropping to the floor and setting up in a pushup position. Bend your arms to allow your body to drop to the floor. At the same time, bring your left knee towards your left elbow. As you press up, extend your leg back to the starting position. Now, repeat the same movement for the opposite leg. Pay close attention to the position of your hips and try to stay balanced throughout the motion.