A Quick and Easy Warm-Up Routine That Will Prep You for Any Workout
If you’re short on time, it can be tempting to skip the pre-workout stretches and jump right into your routine, but there’s actually a lot of value in taking just 5 to 10 minutes to do a proper warm-up.
The stretches that are best for your pre-workout prep, though, probably aren’t exactly what you’d equate with “stretching.” That’s because the best pre-workout stretches are going to be dynamic stretches—wherein you’re moving throughout—not static stretches, i.e., get into a pose and hold it.
These dynamic moves are better for your warm-up than static stretching, which works best for your cool-down after your workout. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends dynamic stretches prior to any physical activity because it takes muscles through a wider range of motion and warms up the body more than static stretching. Plus, doing static stretches before a workout may even reduce your strength, power, and explosiveness for the coming routine, as SELF reported previously.
Warm-ups are crucial no matter what your workout might be, Marcia Denis, P.T., DPT, a Miami-based physical therapist, certified yoga teacher, and cohost of the Disabled Girls Who Lift podcast, tells SELF.
“Whether you’re a runner or a strength athlete, warm-ups are super important,” she says. “They are great for priming your body for movement, and they also give you an opportunity to check in mentally and physically.” That can help prevent injury, she adds, since getting in tune with any preexisting aches and pains can inform the workout you’ll do next. For example, if your shoulder is cranky from sleeping wrong, you may want to add some additional gentle pre-workout stretches to that area to increase your mobility before getting started—or rethink a workout with tons of shoulder exercises and try a full-body routine instead.
In this pre-workout stretching routine Dr. Denis created, you’ll be easing into movement to prep you for whatever fitness adventures you have planned. These moves focus on full-body movement that stretches your spine, core, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, back, and shoulders. Warm-ups are designed to be easy rather than strenuous, she adds—if you start feeling your heart rate increasing quickly or yourself getting breathless or sweaty, dial back the intensity.
“Warm-ups shouldn’t be stressful or wear your muscles out,” she says. “They should be easy and specific to your main movement required for your workout, and what your body needs to achieve that movement.”
With that in mind, do these full-body, pre-workout stretches at a comfortable pace—it’s perfectly fine if you need to modify them so your body can feel smooth and fluid, not overstressed. Dr. Denis offers some simple modifications to help make them your own.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need for a quick, 5- to 10-minute pre-workout warm-up session.
What you need: A yoga mat for comfort. You can also have yoga blocks or cushions on hand for comfort modifications as well.
- Child’s pose
- Donkey kick
- Bird-dog crunch
- Down Dog to runner’s lunge
- Perform each move for the set amount of reps, going right into the next in circuit form. For a five-minute warm-up, do this circuit once, making sure to move slowly and with control. If you have more time, complete two or three rounds total.
Demoing the moves below are Jessica Rihal (GIF 1), a plus-size yoga instructor (200-HR) and a strong advocate of fitness/wellness for all bodies; Shauna Harrison (GIFs 2 and 5), a Bay Area–based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; Krystal Salvent (GIF 3), NASM-certified personal trainer in New York City; and Kira Stokes (GIF 4), celebrity trainer, group fitness instructor, and creator of the Kira Stokes Fit app.