Doing the right warm up exercises will not only help you perform better and reduce your chance of injuries, but in many cases they actually contribute a lot to the workout or act as a great recovery session. These 37 dynamic warm up exercises will get you mobile and ready for nearly any activity.
Check out the video which shows all 37 exercises to do at home in a row, then run through the description and pictures to get a better feel about how to perform them correctly. Choose four or five exercise depending on the activity you will be going to do. You should always follow these with some movements specific to your sport or workout, however these will get you primed, mobile, dynamic and flexible.
Variety is great, but try to identify your weaknesses and use the warm up to really target them and ensure those areas are really ready for the work out. The best warm up exercises are not always the most common ones, and you will find a few gems in this list that will really help you to progress with your fitness goals.
Remember: When you are starting out these exercises will be challenging. A lot of them are still hard for the best athletes that struggle in certain areas. Be patient and work through them, eventually you will achieve the mobility needed to perform them to their maximum. If you struggle with any of these in particular, do it more frequently.
Why: Dynamic hamstring stretch that incorporates core stability.
How: Stand with your legs straight and bend from the hips. Walk out on your hands until you are in a push up position and then walk your feet back up. Keep your legs as straight as possible during the movement
2. Lunge to Instep
Why: Stretches everything and is great for hip mobility.
How: Step out as far as you can and lunge forward. Bring your opposite elbow to touch the instep on the foot that is in front of you. If you can’t reach it, just get as far as you can. You will improve quickly!
3. Leg Swings Front
Why: Dynamically stretch everything and warm up your hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors and abductors.
How: Stand to the side of a chair and swing your leg back and forth as high as it can go. Do the same thing to the side standing in front of the chair.
4. Leg Swings Side
Why: Dynamically stretch everything and warm up your hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors and abductors.
How: Do the same thing to the side standing in front of the chair. Swing your leg as far left and right as your mobility allows.
5. Knee Side to Side
Why: Mobilize the lower back and warm up through the core.
How: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent about 90 degrees. Move from your hips to the left and right, as far down as you can go.
6. Downward Dogs
Why: Warm up the upper body and core and stretch through the legs and lower back. A great mobility exercise.
How: Start on all fours with your bum in the air and your arms and legs stretched out.
7. Active Quad
Why: Stretch those quads dynamically and really hit your rec fem.
How: Take a couple of steps, grab your quad in a stretch and pull your heel close to your bum for a second. Drop down, take a few more steps and do the other leg.
8. Active Butt
Why: This warms up your calves as well as actively giving you a stretch through your bum.
How: Take a few steps, bring your knee up to your chest and hold it for a second with your hands. Drop it down take a few steps and repeat on the other side.
Why: This hits the hamstrings and adductors and gives you some rotation through your hips.
How: Stand with your legs wide open and straight. Bend over keeping your back tight and outstretch your arms to either side. Create a windmill action by rotating your body left and right, keeping your arms and legs straight at all times.
10. Side Lunges
Why: Side lunges warm up your legs as well as stretch your adductors.
How: Start in a wide position and perform a side lunge. Alternate to the other side after you get as low as you can. This will be difficult for beginners so just go as far down as you can.
Why: The ultimate glute builder and will get those babies activated and ready to go. You need your butt in everything you do, so get it working.
How: Start on your back with your feet on the floor. Press up through your heels until your body is parallel. You can progress to one leg when this becomes too easy.
12. Bridges Drop Leg
Why: This will ensure your glutes are firing as well as mobilise through your adductors.
How: Get into the bridge position and alternate dropping down each leg. Keep your feet on the floor and control through you core to keep as still as possible.
13. Walking Stiff Leg Dead Lift
Why: A good dynamic hamstring stretch that will challenge your balance.
How: Keep your arms outstretched and take a few steps forward. Bend down only at the hips until you touch the floor (totally ok if you can’t yet). Slowly bring yourself back up, take a few more steps and repeat on the other leg.
14. Lunges with Twist
Why: Warm up your legs and glutes while stretching your hip flexors.
How: Perform a normal lunge, stepping out far enough so your knee does not go in front of your toe and twist your body to that side. Pretend like you are holding onto a small ball and keep your arms outstretched as you bend.
15. Squat to Stand
Why: A good way to warm up your legs in general and get some more flexibility through your posterior chain.
How: Start on the floor in a deep squat position with your hands on your toes. Stand up and keep holding your toes. If you can’t stand up the whole way, no problem, go as far as you can and improve each time.
16. Overhead Squat on Wall
Why: This is a great way to warm up your legs and glutes.
How: Start in front of a wall with your hands up against it. Your arms should stay outstretched and running down along the wall as you squat down.
17. Sumo Side to Side
Why: This will isometrically warm up your lower body as well as stretch your adductors.
How: Start in a wide position down low with your elbows on your thighs. Move from the left to the right slowly and increase as you get more mobile.
18. Leg Extensions
Why: Activate your glutes and stretch out your hips.
How: Start on all fours and extend you leg out backwards and to the side. Hold for a second before coming down and alternating legs.
19. Static Spiderman Walk
Why: Great core warm up that gets your hip flexors involved.
How: Start in a push up position, and bring your knee up to touch your elbow on that side. Alternate sides. If you cannot reach it, come as far as you can, you will improve quickly.
20. Bird Dog
Why: A great core exercise that will warm you up, activate you and prevent a ton of injuries in many areas.
How: Start on all fours, bring your elbow under your body to touch your opposite knee and then extend them out as far as you can. Hold for a second and alternate.
21. Rocking Calf
Why: Warm up your calves and stretch them dynamically at the same time.
How: Start in a push up position and place your foot on top of the other leg. Rock slowly back and forth pushing from your toes.
22. Floor to Sky
Why: Warm up your lower body and add some rotation to it. This is great for your legs, lower back and even shoulder. A full body warm up.
How: Start in a squat position and reach behind you as if you will pick something up. With outstretch arms, then bring your hands around your body and over your head to the other side reaching behind you as if you are throwing it to the sky.
23. Adductor Opens
Why: A great position to hold for your abs as well as challenge and stretch your groin (adductor) muscles.
How: Start on your back with your knee bent to 90 degrees as shown in the picture. Slowly drop one leg to the side as far down as you can go, bring it back up and repeat with the other leg.
24. Leg Up and Over
Why: This will warm up your hip flexors and dynamically stretch your hamstrings and glutes.
How: Start on your back with your arms outstretched to the side, and your legs straight. Lift your leg up until its at 90 degrees to your body, and slowly bring it over your body to touch your hand.
25. Upper Back Extensions
Why: Your thoracic spine is bent most of the day if you sit at a desk and has huge implication on shoulder pain. Open up the area and have a healthier upper back, as well as enable yourself to get more out of your shoulders during a workout.
How: Sit on a chair with your upper back at the top of it. Extend your arms up and stretch back over the chair. Repeat a few times. You can also do this over a foam roller if your chair doesn’t work.
26. Wall Slides
Why: A great way to ensure your shoulders are mobile enough to safely perform your workout.
How: Start against the wall with the back of your hands and elbows up against it. Slide your arms up and down the wall and make sure they never leave the wall. You will gradually achieve more mobility.
27. Prone Walks
Why: Warm up your shoulders and hit your core at the same. Great for shoulder and core stability.
How: Start in a pushup position and walk to the left and right on your hands. Keep your core strong and your back straight through out the movement.
28. Scapular Pushups
Why: These are a great shoulder warm up and will help you strength some really important muscles for shoulder health.
How: In a push up position, keep your arms straight and lock your elbows. Drop through your upper body and pull back up. You will feel it between your shoulder blades.
29. Pull Rotate & Press
Why: This is a great complex that will help to warm up your rotator cuff muscles.
How: Start standing up with your arms stretched out front. Pull back so your elbows are inline with your body. Rotate your arms keeping your elbows in the same place until your hands are pointing to the sky. Extend up and press your hands towards the roof. Come back the way you came. Ensure throughout the whole movement that you keep your upper body strong and stable.
30. Neck Side to Side
Why: Moving your neck just helps to open up your shoulders and neck area. We sit still a lot of the day and these muscle can become extremely tight.
How: Simple move your neck side to side, bringing your ear to your shoulder.
31. T Open
Why: This will warm up your core, give you some rotation and open up your upper body.
How: Start in a push up position and hold your body strong. Lift one arm off the ground and bring yourself into a T position as shown in the picture. Hold for a second, drop back down and repeat on the other side.
32. Chest Opener
Why: Your chest can get really tight throughout the day, especially if you suffer from bad posture. This will open up your chest and help those rounded shoulders.
How: Start on the floor with your leg over your body and knee down on the floor. Stretch your arm out to that side and lay it on the floor. Your other arm should start on top of it, keep it straight and open it up to touch the floor on the other side of your body. Repeat this movement a few times.
33. Arm Circles
Why: This will warm up your shoulders in general and get some good mobility through them.
How: Stand with your arms outstretched to the side. Start with tony circles and make them larger each time around. Keep swinging with big circles and start to make them smaller again.
34. Tennis Ball Quad Mobility
Why: Hit some common trigger points in your quads.
How: Start on the floor with the ball under your quad. Bend your leg at the knee slowly. Try moving the tennis ball up and down your leg.
35. Tennis Ball Shoulder Mobility
Why: Ensure that your rotator cuff is loose and you have full range of movement in your shoulder.
How: Start on the floor on your side. Place the tennis ball in the groove in between your armpit and shoulder blade. Keeping your arm at 90 degrees and your elbow on the floor, slowly move your arm up and down. You might struggle with mobility to start, but will improve quickly with persistence.
36. Tennis Ball Calf Mobility
Why: Help your range of motion at the ankle by releasing your calf muscle and getting rid of the junk.
How: Put the tennis ball under your calf while you point and flex your foot. Move the ball up and down, ensure you work a lot closer to the heel.
37. Tennis Ball Glute Mobility
Why: Your glutes get inhibited when they are tight and can cause a ton of problems. Release them with the tennis ball actively before you start working.
How: Sit on the ball placing it under your glutes. Rotate your leg to the side as shown in the picture. Move the ball all around your glutes to find out where you need the most work.
Now you have 37 great warm up exercises you can start doing today. Add them to your warm up or use them as a recovery workout to get some more mobility. Leave a comment if you have any more exercises you like to do for your warm up!