Prepare your body for exercise with this guided, 10-Minute Dynamic Warm Up. This full body mobility and cardio warm up routine combines 10 of the best warm up exercises to increase workout performance, prevent injury, and improve range of motion!
But I’ve complied my 10 best warm up exercises into this 10-Minute Dynamic Warm Up Routine for:
Days you need an extended pre-workout warm up (great for days you are feeling a little extra muscle soreness).
Cardio days when you need a cardio warm up before heading out for a run.
Strength training days when you are working out on your own at home or at the gym.
Active rest days when you want a quick mobility warm up routine that will also raise your heart rate in a low impact way.
What is a dynamic warm up?
A dynamic warm up is a combination of movements designed to prepare your body for loaded movements.
This is different from the kind of stretching you might remember from gym class, where you hold a stretch for 30-60 seconds (also known as “static stretching”).
Dynamic stretching simply means stretches that include active movement or energy.
In this 10-minute dynamic warm up you’ll move in all planes of motion to prepare your nervous system, joints and muscles for loaded movement (your workout). The 10 dynamic stretches get blood flowing to all limbs and start to move your heart rate up to the level it will be at for the remainder of your workout.
We spend most days operating in the sagittal plane — or forwards/backwards movements. But this dynamic warm up routine includes ALL planes of motion:
Sagittal Plane: forward and backward movements
Frontal Plane: side-to-side movements
Transverse Plane: twisting and pivoting movements
Moving in all planes of motion primes the body for more intense movements and reduces the risk of injury (specifically reduces the risk of knee injuries and back injuries or low back pain).
What’s the difference between a dynamic warm up and static stretching? Which is better?
Dynamic stretching (like this active warm up routine) is better for warming up your body before a workout.
Static stretching (or stretches you hold), are great for increasing flexibility.
As a certified personal trainer, I personally suggest using dynamic stretching for a pre-workout warm up. And then incorporating more static stretches into your post-workout cool down.
BONUS Mobility Exercise: 90/90 Hip Switch Kneel Up
10 Best Warm Up Exercises
1. Step Toe Touch + Step Back Lunge (45 seconds on right leg, then 45 seconds on left leg)
Muscles Warmed Up: Hip flexors, quads, glutes, hamstrings and core.
Trainer Tip: Avoid bending at the waist as you reach for your toes. Start slow and increase your speed as you find your rhythm.
How to do Step Toe Touch + Step Back Lunge:
Start standing tall, feet shoulder width apart; arms at your sides.
Take a small step forward with your left foot. As you plant your front leg (left foot) firmly on the ground, swing your right leg out in front of you while simultaneously reaching your left hand towards your right toe. Striving to make toe to hand connection, but no necessary. Do not bend at the waist, rather keep hip to rib cage open.
As you swing your right leg back towards the ground plant your right foot slightly behind your left foot.
With right foot planted on the ground, step your left foot back into a reverse lunge — lowering your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle, front right thigh parallel to the floor.
Drive through your front right foot to return to a starting position.
Repeat this movement for 45 seconds. Then switch legs.
2. Rapid Lateral Squats
Muscles Warmed Up: Gluteus medius, or outer glute that controls hip movement and side-to-side movements. Also involved are the quads and inner thighs (or adductors).
Trainer Tip: Think of sending your hips back and down. Start slow and increase your speed as you find your rhythm.
How to do Lateral Squats:
Start with your feet wider than your hips. Think a wide squat stance or sumo squat stance, with your knees and toes pointing forward (or toes just slightly turned out away from your body).
Shift your weight into your right heel as you push your hips back, bending your right knee while leaving your left leg straight. With your left hand, reach for your right foot as you sit back into the lateral squat.
Then drive through your right foot to reverse the movement, pushing you back up to center.
Repeat this movement on the left leg, reaching for your right hand towards your left toes as you bend your left knee.
Repeat this movement, picking up your pace as you progress for 45 seconds.
3. Around The World Lunge Pivots
Muscles Warmed Up: Quads, glutes, ankles, calves, core, shoulders and arms. Also the extension of arms overhead, above your heart, will raise your heart rate.
Trainer Tip: Toes follow hips; your toes should pivot with your hips.
How to do Around the World Lunges:
Start standing tall with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Toes pointing forward.
Reach your arms straight overhead to activate your core.
Lift your heels off the ground, transferring your weight to the balls of your feet as you pivot your hips (toes follow hips) to the right. With chest, hips and toes facing to the right, bend your knees and lower down into a shortened lunge position. Lowering your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle, front right thigh parallel to the floor. Reach your fingertips towards the ground if that’s available to you.
Then drive through your front right foot to powerfully stand back up, again transferring your weight into the balls of your feet and you pivot your hips (and toes) back to center and then right up and over to the left.
Repeat this hip rotations movement for 45 seconds.
4. Pivot Front Lunge + Knee Drive (45 seconds on right leg, then 45 seconds on left leg)
Muscles Warmed Up: Hip flexors, quads, glutes, ankles, calves, and core.
Trainer Tip: Toes follow hips; your toes should pivot with your hips.
How to do Pivot Front Lunge + Knee Drive:
Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Lift your right knee up to hip height, engaging your core and balancing on the left leg (soft bend in left knee).
Pivot your left toe, opening your body to the right, as you simultaneously step your right foot out in front of your body to land in a low front lunge. Toes follow hips to the right. Your right leg (the one that was floating) should now be at a 90 degree bend, front thigh parallel to the floor. Back left knee lowered towards the ground.
Option to reach left finger tips towards the ground if that’s available to you.
Then drive off your front right foot as you pivot your left toes back to center, the starting position. Again driving your right knee up, floating in line with your right hip.
Repeat this movement for 45 seconds with opening hip rotations to the right. Then switch standing legs, balancing on your right leg with opening hip rotations to the left.
5. 4 Butt Kicks + Squat
Muscles Warmed Up: Hips, hamstrings, glutes, calves and ankles (also a great warm up exercise for opening up the front thighs, quads). This warm up movement is sure to raise your heart rate too.
How to do Butt Kicks + Squat:
Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart, arms at your side.
Then pull your right heel towards your right glute, squeezing your hamstring muscle.
Place the ball of your right foot back to the ground, and repeat on the other side — pulling your left heel to your left glute.
Perform 4 butt kicks (2 on right leg and 2 on left leg).
Then lower down into a squat. Shifting the weight into your heels as you bend your knees and lower your hips down towards the ground, striving for a 90 degree angle with your hips in line with your knees; chest up.
Drive through your heels to return to the starting position and repeat the 4 butt kicks to 1 squat movement; picking up your pace as you progress.
Repeat for 45 seconds.
6. Plank Walk Out + Low Lunge Hip Opener
Muscles Warmed Up: Shoulders, arms, core, legs, glutes and hips.
Trainer Tip: This low lunge hip opener is a great way to increase your squat range of motion.
How to do Plank Walk Out + Low Lunge Hip Opener:
Start standing with your feet hip-distance apart, arms reaching overhead.
Lower down into a squat position. Weight in your heels as you lower your hips down towards the ground, striving for a 90 degree angle with your hips in line with your knees; chest up, fingertips reaching for the ground.
Plank your hands on the ground and ‘walk out’ into a high plank position. Walking your hands away from your feet.
Find a high plank position (or pushup position) with shoulders stacked over wrists, body in a straight line from head to toe.
Then step your right foot outside your right hand finding a low lunge position. Open your right hand towards the ceiling (gaze follows fingertips), stretching through your left hip and right glute.
Replant your right hand to the mat, step back to high plank and repeat this low lunge on the other side. Stepping your left foot outside your left hand finding a low lunge position. Open your left hand towards the ceiling (gaze follows fingertips), stretching through your right hip and left glute.
Step back to high plank and then walk your hands back towards your feet; standing back up the to the starting position.
Repeat this movement for 45 seconds.
7. Kick Sits
Muscles Warmed Up: All of the core muscles! Also targets the shoulders, quads, hips and ankles. A great exercise to increase mobility of the hips and shoulders.
Trainer Tip: This is a challenging exercise, to modify — omit the toe touch and rather just open your arm as you rotate kicking your opposing leg through. Leaving the arm open will create more space for the leg to come through.
How to do Kick Sits:
Start in a table top position on all fours, shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.
Tuck your toes under to lift your knees off the mat (think of just hovering your knees off the mat), as you support yourself through the heels of your hands; core engaged.
Then pivot your right heel down towards the ground, opening your hips to the right as you prepare to kick your left leg through the opening between your left hand and right foot. Your left hip may brush the ground as you kick your left leg through. Left palm stays connected to the ground to support you.
If available to you, reach your right hand towards your left toes.
Then pivot your hips back towards the ground, returning to the starting position and perform the kick through on the other side.
Pivot your left heel down towards the ground, opening your hips to the left as you prepare to kick your right leg through the opening between your right hand and left foot. Your right hip may brush the ground as you kick your right leg through. Right palm stays connected to the ground to support you.
If available to you, reach your left hand towards your right toes.
Again return to the starting position and repeat this movement for 45 seconds.
8. Prisoner Get Ups
Muscles Warmed Up: Glutes, quads, hamstrings and all the stabilizing muscles in your core and back.
Trainer Tip: Alternate your lead foot with each rep.
How to do Kneeling Stand Ups:
Start in a kneeling position, knees under hips (add additional padding to support your knees if necessary). Shoulders stacked over hips and hands can be at your sides or placed behind your head for additional core engagement.
From this kneeling position step your right foot out in front of you, knee in line with right hip. Then step your left foot out to meet your right foot placing you at the bottom of your squat.
From this loaded squat position, drive through your heels to stand tall.
Then lower back down into the bottom of a squat and reverse this movement; stepping your left foot back and placing your left knee back on the mat. Then stepping your right foot back and placing your right knee back on the mat. Bringing you back to the kneeling starting position.
Repeat this “get up” movement, alternating your lead foot with each rep, for 45 seconds.
9. BONUS Mobility Exercise: 90/90 Hip Switch Kneel Up
Muscles Warmed Up: Hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner thighs and all the stabilizing muscles in your core, back and shoulders.
Trainer Tip: This is a challenging hip mobility exercise. To modify, repeat steps 1-2. Once you are comfortable with this movement try adding on the remainder of the movement.
How to do 90/90 Hip Switch Kneel Ups:
Start in a seated butterfly position, sitting on your sit bones with soles of the feet to touch. Arms extended straight out in front of you at shoulder height.
From this position slide your right foot behind you, inner arch of foot placed on the mat behind your right glute/hip. Putting your in a 90/90 hip switch position.
From this position brace your core to lift your hips off the ground raising your up to a half kneeling position, shoulders stacked over hips.
Hold this position as you slide simultaneously slide your left foot behind you, and pull your right foot back to the butterfly starting position. Thus the inner arch of left foot should be placed on the mat behind your left glute/hip. And the inner arch of your right foot now faces up towards the ceiling in line with your pelvis.
Lower your hips back to the ground sitting on your sit bones.
Then slide your left foot back to meet your right foot in the starting butterfly position.
Repeat this movement, alternating your lead foot with each rep, for 45 seconds.