7 Warmup Exercises to Use Before Workouts for Better Training

Skipping your warm up? You’re not alone. But it’s time to change that.

Warmups, as it turns out, are pretty key to everything else you’re trying to do with your fitness routine.

Why warm ups are important

“People need to warm up before their workout to help improve their performance during their workout. This includes increasing physical awareness of positions you’ll be moving in, activating core musculature, raising your mental readiness for your workout, and improving mobility around your major joints,” says James Shapiro, MS, NASM CES, PES, an LA based sports performance coach. “Your warmup allows you to potentiate: to have the ability to raise your performance of your primary movements in your workout.”

While some people might think of warmups as a staid routine of static stretches, you’ll be better off if you use the time to move around, putting your body into the positions you’ll soon be performing under load and at max effort. Trainers call these more active routines dynamic warmups.

7 Warmup Moves to Prep You for Workouts

Below, seven exercises to do before your next jaunt to the gym, run, or CrossFit class.

90-90 switches

Shapiro breaks this one down:

●”Start seated on the ground with knees bent and heels on the ground.”

●”Collapse both legs towards one side while supporting an upright torso posture with arms behind you. Your arms are important to post your body up.”

●Shapiro also notes that you should see two 90-degree angles with your legs. Then, you’ll want to adjust your position and ensure your calves and hamstrings are not touching.

●Open up first to the opposite side of your ‘closed’ or knee-in side before moving your ‘open’ leg. Slowly move each leg side to side.

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“This is a great warm-up exercise because of its high core demand and challenges you to face your mobility while in a deep flexion position,” he says.

The Hip Airplane

Shapiro recommends people first do this movement assisted before mastering the movement using their own balance.

●”Face forward towards a wall with a little distance. Place your hands on the wall and choose one leg to stand on and have the knee slightly bent.”

●”From here you will tilt your body 20-to-30 degrees forward and lift the other leg up.”

●“At this point, your ribs, hips, and one leg should be in a straight line. The goal is to move along the hip of the standing leg as a pivot point.”

●”Turn slowly your body, all points on a straight line, to open up and then close in. Assist your movement with your hands at all times to feel your adductors, glutes, and obliques.”

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Shapiro likes this movement due to the single leg stability, muscle activation, and core coordination that it demands.

Pushup Position Alternating Downward Dog Reaches

Alright, yoga dudes, now’s your chance to squeeze that downward dog into your pre-workout routine.

●”Start in a pushup position either on the floor or with hands on a bench,” says Shapiro.

●”Push your hips back and up, while moving the weight from your toes to your heels, for a downward dog.”

●At the same time take one hand off the floor or bench and reach to the opposing side’s shin or foot.”

●”Return to your start position without having your hips dip.”

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“This is a great move because it targets the entire posterior chain while activating the shoulder in an overhead position,” he says.

Lateral sling stretch

ace Max Glaser, MA, CSCS, CPT, explains humans often live in the sagittal plane of movement (forward and backward). “However, if we are strong in other planes (frontal, transverse) it can drastically help some common injuries and discomforts physical therapists and trainers come across (ankles, hips, back),” he says.

“The lateral sling is a step in the right direction. It gives us frontal plane, and a nice stretch.” Here’s how to work the lateral sling and complete this move:

●Stand perpendicular against a wall. Hips, obliques, and your overhead elbow are pushing against the wall.

●Actively flex (bend) the elbow to add tension along the lateral pathway.

●The leg closest to the wall slides behind and through (think like bowling).

●Do a 20-to-30 second hold on each side and every couple of seconds try and reach your leg further or get your hips closer to the wall.

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Do it up to two times in your warm-up. “The exerciser should feel a big stretch down their body,” says Glaser.

Glute stretch to lateral lunge with overhead reach

If you aren’t familiar with this stretch, you’re missing out, according to Shapiro.

●”Begin standing and choose one side to work on,” he says. “Have one knee go across the body and pull for one second with the opposite hand.”

●Release that leg and step out to the side just outside hip width. Lunge down to the side and stay at a comfortable position.”

●Then, hold that low position and with both hands, palms facing each other, raise your arms up without extending through your back.

●From here, you’ll want to push out from that position and go back to your standing posture.

Like the lateral sling stretch, this is a solid warmup movement because most strength movements occur in the sagittal plane. “Warming up and performing exercises in the frontal plane (side to side) helps us eliminate energy leaks and imbalances,” adds Shapiro.

Cat/Cow

Another move rooted in yoga asanas, this is an excellent warm-up stretch. “With the goal of the warm-up to prepare the body, having optimal hip movement is important. The cat/cow movement happens at the hips,” says Glaser, adding that most people think it happens at the back, but as we tuck, and extend our hips, the spine is fluctuating between flexion and extension.

● “Start on your hands and knees. Hands under the shoulders, and knees under the hips,” he says.

●”Move just your hips through full ranges of motion, tucking and extending.”

Take some deep inhales and exhales as you flow through the pose.

Sock walks

Glaser calls this drill a tremendous way to start from the ground up with your warmup. “We spend too much time on shoes. Our arches flatten, our big toes don’t work, and we get a lot of ankle discomfort,” he says. This sock walk series consists of four movements:

●”10 steps on your tiptoes, forwards and backwards.”

●”10 steps on just your heels (toes off the ground), forward and backwards.”

●10 steps of heel to toe, where you roll your feet from just on your heels, through the midfoot, and then onto the tip toes.”

●”10 steps forward, backwards, and laterally to the right and left of outside the foot walking. Roll your feet to the outside (inversion), and walk on the ‘outside’ edge.”

Done! Now, time to hit the weight rack and get to work.

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