Dynamic Pre-Exercise Warm-Up Routine

Warming up before exercise is a critical component of a safe and effective workout. A good warm-up doesn't need to be elaborate or complicated, but it does need to increase your core temperature and get blood flowing to the muscles you'll be using during your workout.

This is different than the post-workout stretching session, which is generally used to increase range of motion around a joint and help you recover after exercise. The following dynamic warm-up routine can be used as a good starting point before engaging in most sports.


High Knees Walk

Athlete exercises in parking lot
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The simple high knees walk will loosen the hips, knees, and ankles and get the blood circulating. Start with about ten paces, lifting the knees up toward the elbows as your walk. Turn around and do ten paces back to the starting point.

Do second set and this time add a small bounce in your step, exaggerating your stride and arm swing until you really feel the blood moving. Add a final set if you still feel a bit tight.


Walking Lunge With Arms Up

Lunge walk

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To perform this warm-up move, do a walking lunge for about ten paces forward, turn around and lunge ten paces back to the starting point. With each step, slowly sink down toward the ground with your back leg, allowing the knee to touch the ground. Hold each step for a second and continue. 

With each set add a bit more range of motion to the stride length and depth. If you want to increase the range of motion even more, hold your arms up over your head as you lunge. Reach up with your arms and sink into the lunge.


The Skip with Twist Exercise

Woman stretching arms before exercise
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The skip with twist adds a bit more speed to the warm-up as well as adding a rotation to the movements. The skip with a twist exercise engages the muscles of the core as well as the upper and lower body in a gentle and rhythmic warm-up. To do it right:

  • Find a level place with enough room for about 10 full forward strides.
  • Begin by slowly skipping forward 10 strides (5 per side), stop, and turn around.
  • Gradually add more intensity with a larger arm swing and driving your knees a bit higher.
  • Finally, add the torso twist. Take full skipping strides, driving your knees upward and your arms across your body to a full range of motion.
  • Keep your movements smooth and controlled, not sloppy. Focus on your core and abdominal muscles to get the most from this warm up this exercise.

Side-to-Side Drills

group of young women stretching during fitness warm-up
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The lateral stabilizers of the hips and knees shouldn't be neglected during your dynamic warm up, so add in several rounds of side-to-side steps or skips to warm them up. You can use ladder drills or just do some simple side steps.

Pick up the pace from a side-to-side walk to a skip with each set. You can also do the lateral band walking exercise to get an even deeper warm-up or use the glute activation routine if you sit a lot during the day.


Jumping Rope

Park Fitness
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A jump rope can be used for both a basic warm-up exercise and a full-on cardio workout. To use rope jumping as part of a simple warm-up routine, start with a slow, double-step pace. This means you jump over the rope and take a small bounce before the rope comes back around. You will move the rope more slowly and not jump as high or as quickly.

To use rope jumping in this warm-up routine, jump slowly for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and jump for another minute before moving to the next warm-up exercise.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.