GROINER

If you have at least an hour in which to train, or a history of injuries that could otherwise impede your ability to train safely, your warmup should begin with foam rolling and include a wide array of dynamic exercises and static stretches.

  • If you’ve tried a foam roller after a tough workout, you were instantly aware of its ability to help relieve muscle aches and soreness. It also provides an easy way to start getting warmed up, as it promotes blood flow. Rest your muscles on the roller (a tennis ball, softball, or lacrosse ball work, too) and roll them out for about 30 seconds each. When you find a tender spot, hold the position until you feel it begin to release (or for as long as you can stand it). Pay extra attention to the hips, glutes, outer and inner thighs, lower back, calves, and lats. You can repeat the rolling after your workout as well if you like, as this may enhance recovery.
  • Perform some light activity that elevates your heart rate and makes you feel warm (though not necessarily fuzzy). This could be a set of 30 jumping jacks, a five minute walk on the treadmill (set to a slight incline), or a minute or two of jumping rope. Other cardio machines like a stationary bike or an elliptical machine can also get your blood flowing.
  • Now you’ll begin what’s often called a dynamic warmup. In addition to encouraging further blood flow and higher body temperature, dynamic exercises take your muscles through the ranges of motion you’ll use in your workout, preparing you to get into those positions safely. There are endless options, but try this routine.

SHOULDER OVER AND BACK

SHOULDER OVER AND BACK

PERFORM 15 REPS

Hold a band, dowel, yardstick, or light bar in front of your hips with hands outside shoulder width. Keeping your elbows straight, raise your arms overhead and behind your body as far as you can. Bring them back in front of you again. Continue going over and back and gradually narrow your grip as you feel your shoulders loosen up.

HIP HINGE

Place your hands on your hips and stand with feet hip width. Push your hips back, bending your knees only as needed, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Squeeze your glutes as you forcefully push your hips forward again to stand up straight.

PERFORM 15 REPS

Place your hands on your hips and stand with feet hip width. Push your hips back, bending your knees only as needed, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Squeeze your glutes as you forcefully push your hips forward again to stand up straight.

OVERHEAD SQUAT

OVERHEAD SQUAT

PERFORM 10 REPS

Hold a band, dowel, yardstick, or light bar overhead with hands outside shoulder width. Stand with feet shoulder width and toes turned out slightly. Bend your hips back and squat as low as you can without letting your tailbone tuck under. Keep the object you’re holding above and slightly behind your head the whole time—don’t let it drift in front of you.

SIDE LUNGE

SIDE LUNGE

PERFORM 10 REPS ON EACH LEG

Stand with feet hip width and step out to your left. Lower your body until your left knee is bent 90 degrees, or until you feel a stretch in the right side of your groin, but keep your right leg straight. Repeat on the right side.

BENTOVER YTW

BENTOVER YTW

PERFORM 8 REPS OF EACH

Stand with feet shoulder width and bend your hips back, keeping your lower back flat, until your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor. Let your arms hang. Now squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your arms up and out to your sides about 45 degrees to form a Y shape. Lower them and then raise them out to your sides 90 degrees to form a T. Lower and then raise them out to your sides, but bend your elbows 90 degrees to form a W.

CAT-CAMEL

CAT CAMEL

PERFORM 10 REPS

Kneel on the floor with knees under your hips and hands beneath your shoulders. Arch your back so your chest rises—you should look like a cat stretching. Now round your entire back so it looks like a camel’s hump.

BIRD DOG

BIRD DOG

PERFORM 10 REPS ON EACH SIDE

From the kneeling position, extend your left hand out in front of you. Simultaneously kick your right leg back straight, bracing your core and squeezing your glutes as you do so. Hold for a moment and then switch legs.

HIP CIRCLE

MAKE 10 CLOCKWISE CIRCLES AND THEN SWITCH LEGS; REPEAT ON BOTH LEGS IN THE COUNTERCLOCKWISE DIRECTION

MAKE 10 CLOCKWISE CIRCLES AND THEN SWITCH LEGS; REPEAT ON BOTH LEGS IN THE COUNTERCLOCKWISE DIRECTION

From the kneeling position, raise your right knee off the floor and make circles with it, opening your hip as much as possible on each revolution. Keep your shoulders square to the floor.

GROINER

GROINER

PERFORM 10 REPS ON EACH SIDE

Get into pushup position with your hands shoulder width, feet close together, and body in a straight line. Jump your left foot forward and land it to the outside of your left hand. Let your hips sink a bit to feel the stretch and then reverse it—jump your left foot back while the right one comes up to your right hand.


At this point, it’s wise to statically stretch muscles that you know to be chronically tight. For most people, the hips, glutes, and lats are bound up due to many hours sitting at desks in front of computers, but stretch whatever areas you feel need it most. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat for three sets on each side. The following are some suggestions.

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

Get into lunge position on the floor with your right leg back. Place your hands on your hips and push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your right hip. Squeeze your glutes on your right side. For a more intense stretch, reach your right arm overhead and lean back slightly while keeping your hips forward. Another progression is to reach back and grasp the outside of your rear foot and gently pull it off the floor. You’ll feel the stretch go into the top of your thigh.

LAT STRETCH

LAT STRETCH

Grasp a sturdy upright object with your left hand, thumb facing up, and bend your hips back until your torso and arm are in line and you feel a stretch in your lat. Move gently from side to side so you stretch the entire muscle.

PEC STRETCH

PEC STRETCH

Place the meat of your right forearm against a sturdy upright object (a doorframe is perfect) and bend your elbow 90 degrees. Gently lean forward so you feel a stretch on your pec.

PIRIFORMIS STRETCH

PIRIFORMIS STRETCH

Sit on a bench and cross your left leg over your right knee, bending your left knee 90 degrees. Gently push your left knee down so you feel a stretch on the outside of your left glutes.

CALF STRETCH

CALF STRETCH

Place your hands against a wall and stagger your feet so one is close to the wall and your rear leg is straight. Both feet face forward and your rear leg should be aligned with your upper body. Lean forward until you feel your calf stretch on your trailing leg.

THE PRACTICAL WARMUP

As the name implies, this routine is for when you have time to warm up, but not enough to do everything listed in Option 1. In this case, you need to get a good sweat going and prepare your muscles and joints to move while doing the bare essentials. According to Ben Bruno, a celebrity trainer at Rise Movement in West Hollywood, CA, you should hit a cardio machine for five minutes followed by these stretches. “Do toe-touch squats and sumo squat holds (both of which are explained below) to improve mobility,” Bruno says.

TOE-TOUCH SQUAT

TOE-TOUCH SQUAT

Stand with feet shoulder width and toes turned slightly out. Reach down to touch your toes with legs extended and then bend your hips back to squat down, keeping your lower back in its natural arch. Now reach your hands overhead and come up.

SUMO SQUAT HOLD

SUMO SQUAT HOLD

Stand with feet shoulder width and toes turned slightly out. Bend your hips back and squat down, keeping your lower back flat and reaching your hands to your toes in the bottom position. Hold the position for a few seconds and then use your elbows to push your knees farther apart so you can sink deeper into the squat.

DID WE SAY THIS WOULD BE BRIEF?

In a nutshell, that’s all you need to know about warming up. Note that even if you’re doing a lower-body workout, it’s smart to include some upper-body warmup moves because the entire body is connected. Tightness or coldness in the upper torso can lead to injury when working the legs, and vice versa; so while you may abbreviate or recombine the warmup moves listed here, don’t ignore whole muscle areas just because you’re not training them that day.

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