The 10 Best Warm-Up Exercises to Do Before Your Workout

Loosen up and activate your body with these warm-up exercises.

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Side-lying rotation

01-warm-up-exercises-side-lying-rotationMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Lie on your left side with your right hip flexed and your right knee bent. Your arms should be straight out in front of you with your palms together.
  2. Rotate through the middle of your back, opening up your chest and right arm in an arching motion, until your right hand nearly touches the floor on the opposite side.
  3. Rotate back to the starting position and repeat for the suggested number of reps. Repeat on the other side, flexing the left hip and left knee.

What it does: Loosens up your mid back, chest, and shoulders. (Stressed out? Try these stretches for stress relief.)

Form tip: Really focus on moving through your mid back and keeping your lower back out of the exercise.

For a more extensive list of exercises like this, check out my new book 60 Second Sweat.

Glute bridge

02-warm-up-exercises-glue-bridgesMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees, your heels on the floor, and your feet flexed.
  2. Drive through your heels to push your hips up to form a bridge. Your knees, hips, and shoulders should form a straight line. Focus on squeezing your rear end in the top position before lowering back to the floor. Repeat for the suggested number of reps.

What it does: Activates your rear end and hamstrings and lengthens the front of your hips.

Form tip: Avoid bridging up too high and hyperextending your lower back. If you suffer from lower back pain, try these moves.

Quad/hip flexor mobilization

03-warm-up-exercises-quad-hipMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Assume a half-kneeling position with your left knee on the ground and your right leg out in front of you bent at 90 degrees. Keeping an upright posture, grab your left ankle with your left hand and slowly pull your left heel toward your rear end.
  2. Slowly shift your weight forward slightly until you feel a gentle pull in the front of your left thigh and the front of your left hip before transitioning back to the starting position.
  3. Continue moving in and out for the suggested number of reps. Repeat with your right knee down and your left leg out.

What it does: Stretches and lengthens the front of your hip and thigh.

Form tip: Before starting the movement, draw your rib cage down by tilting your hip bones back.

Half-kneeling groin mobilization

04-warm-up-exercises-half-kneelingMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Extend your right leg out to the side, keeping the knee straight and your foot flat on the floor.
  3. Slowly rock back toward the left heel until you feel a stretch in your right groin on the inside of your thigh.
  4. Slowly rock back to the starting position. Continue in this manner, rocking back and forth for the suggested number of reps, before switching to the left leg.

What it does: Stretches and lengthens the muscles on the inside of your thigh.

Form tip: Keep your back perfectly flat. Your neck should form a straight line with your back.

Cat/camel drill

05-warm-up-exercises-cat-camelMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Slowly arch up, rolling your hip bones toward your chin, making a “C” shape out of your spine.
  3. Return to the starting position by allowing your spine to flatten back out. Continue in this manner, arching up and down, for the suggested number of reps.

What it does: Loosens up your lower back.

Form tip: When coming back down to the starting position, stop at a neutral flat-back position. Do not hyperextend your lower back.

Bird dog

06-warm-up-exercises-bird-dogMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Get on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Keeping your abdominals tight, slowly extend your left arm out in front of you, rotating your thumb up, as you simultaneously extend your right leg behind you. Pause in the extended position for a full second before returning to the starting position. Repeat for the suggested number of reps before switching sides.

What it does: Activates your rear end and rear shoulder muscles as well as creating core stability and control.

Form tip: Perform this exercise deliberately and slowly. Do not allow your torso and hips to tip or rotate to either side. They should remain parallel to the floor.

Chest stretch

07-warm-up-exercises-chest-stretchMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Standing at arm’s length away, grab a secure surface (an upright bench, a door frame, or a post) with your right arm at shoulder level.
  2. Rotate your torso and hips away from the secure surface and step out slightly with your left foot until you feel a moderate stretch through your right chest muscle.
  3. Hold the stretch for the suggested amount of time before switching to the left side.

What it does: Stretches and lengthens your chest muscles.

Form tip: To avoid injuring your shoulder, think about “packing” your shoulder blade into your spine on the stretched side.

Lat stretch

08-warm-up-exercises-lat-stretchMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Standing an arm’s length away, grab a secure surface (an upright bench, a door frame, or a post) with your right arm at shoulder level. Your feet should be about hip width apart.
  2. Slowly sink your hips down and back until you feel a mild stretch in the muscles under your armpit and the big muscles running along the side of your spine. Let your head and upper body bend forward toward the secure surface.
  3. Hold the stretch for the suggested amount of time before switching to the left side.

What it does: Stretches and lengthens the muscles in your upper and mid back.

Form tip: Breathe deeply to enhance the stretch.

Arm circles

09-warm-up-exercises-arm-circlesMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Holding your arms out to the side at shoulder level with the elbows straight, slowly make small clockwise circles rotating from your shoulders.
  2. Perform for the suggested number of reps before switching to a counterclockwise direction for an identical number of reps.

What it does: Loosens up your shoulders.

Form tip: Gradually increase the size of the circles throughout the set.

Arm crosses

10-warm-up-exercises-arm-crossesMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart and your arms out to the side at shoulder level, with the elbows straight.
  2. Move your arms inward and make an “X” motion, crossing your arms in front of your chest.
  3. Bring the arms back out to the starting position, and continue crossing the arms in and out for the suggested number of reps.

What it does: Loosens up your shoulders.

Form tip: Start slowly, and gradually pick up the speed of the exercise.

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