It's not uncommon for busy athletes to rush into practices and workouts so eager to hone their sports skills and/or increase their Bench Press numbers or 40-Yard Dash time that they skip or devote little time to the essential full-body dynamic warm-up.
Simply put, unless you do this major workout or sports conditioning component, your muscles and joints will be unprepared for subsequent vigorous lifting, jumping, sprinting or running, heightening your risk of injury (e.g., pulled muscles, strains, sprains) and limiting your sports performance! Think of cold, stiff muscles and joints—especially when training outdoors in a cool environment. Jumping right into an intense activity without warming up those muscles and joints can be an accident waiting to happen.
Dynamic (moving) warm-up movements promote blood flow and enhance joint and muscle range of motion—optimally cushioning joints and muscles for ensuing strenuous exercises and/or sports activities. And don't substitute static stretches for a dynamic warm-up. Perform static stretches after a workout, practice or game to help your muscles cool down and gradually lower your heart rate.
This article provides 12 upper- and lower-body and core dynamic warm-up movements (six combined movements totaling 12). The combo movements are also convenient time-savers—performed immediately following each other (instead of one at a time and resting)—so there's no excuse to miss the crucial dynamic warm-up.
Choose three combo movements below before workouts, practices and games.
Butt Kicks/Open Gate Walks
- Extend your arms at shoulder level while walking forward and alternately driving your legs toward your hips for about 10 yards (Butt Kicks).
- Turn around, bring your arms overhead and immediately follow by alternately raising your knees up toward your waist and laterally rotating your upper legs to each side (Raise your right knee and rotate it clockwise right, then raise your left knee and rotate it counterclockwise) (Open Gate Walks).
- Continuously holding your arms at shoulder level and then overhead engages upper body muscles while the Butt Kicks/Open Gate Walks warm up the legs, hips and inner thighs.
Walking Forward Lunges/Twists
- Extend your arms at chest level.
- Lunge forward with your right foot and rotate your arms to the right.
- Walk forward, lunge with your left foot and rotate your arms left.
- Continue alternating Lunges/Twists nine more times.
Side Lunges/Clockwise and Counterclockwise Arm Circles
- Extend your arms at shoulder level.
- Lunge laterally right while simultaneously doing clockwise Arm Circles.
- Do 10 right Side Lunges combined with clockwise Arm Circles.
- Without rest, do 10 left Side Lunges combined with counterclockwise Arm Circles.
Frankenstein Walks/Reverse Lunges
- Walk forward about 10 yards while alternately raising each leg toward a hand extended at chest level, lowering and switching hands during each raised leg (Frankenstein Walks).
- Immediately follow by raising your hands overhead and do Reverse Lunges.
- Assume a Push-Up position.
- Walk your feet toward your hands keeping your legs as straight as possible.
- Walk your hands forward to start position (Inchworm).
- Raise your right hand forward, extend your arm, raise your left foot off the ground and extend your leg.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Switch hands/legs for 10 seconds (Bird Dog).
- Continue the Inchworms/Bird Dog sequence for 10 reps.
Prone Windmills/Mountain Climbers
- Assume a Push-Up position.
- Alternate raising and extending your right and left arms laterally and toward your back (pivoting on your toes) 10 times (Windmills).
- Immediately follow with 30-60 seconds of Mountain Climbers (alternately quickly driving your knees toward your arms).
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock