We’ve all been there. Rushing to get a workout out of the way, we crank up the speed and incline on the treadmill right off the bat or jump into a strength-training circuit. Warm-up? Who needs that?
Turns out, everyone. Skipping a warm-up could put you at risk for a subpar workout or worse: injury.
“Warm-ups are important because typically we exercise after sedentary periods of time or after having just woken up,” says Rebecca Kennedy, a certified trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp. “It’s like taking a big breath for your whole body.”
Warm-ups aren’t just important for loosening up your muscles; they also start to elevate your heart rate and create more mobility in your joints, Kennedy says. That’s why dynamic warm-ups that require fluid movement through active stretches are preferable to static stretching (e.g., touching your toes and holding for 30 seconds).
Our body also needs time to prepare for bigger bouts of work, which means that 60 seconds of jumping jacks won’t cut it. The smarter strategy? Spend 5 to 8 minutes warming up your body and moving your joints through their fullest range of motion, Kennedy says.
With that in mind, she gave us six highly effective, do-anywhere moves that will prime you for your best workout ever. Trust us, your body will thank you later.
How it works: Perform each move below in order for 60 seconds, without stopping between moves. The entire warm-up will take 6 minutes.
1. The World’s Greatist Warm-Up Variation
Benefits: This move wakes up your whole bod. Hips, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calf muscles all get a nice stretch, plus you’ll get some ankle mobility, shoulder stability, and thoracic spine rotation.Start with feet hip width, arms raised. Bend down with a flat back and walk hands forward to high plank (like an inchworm). Step left foot to outside left hand to come into a low lunge. Lift left hand and rotate chest upward, allowing gaze to follow hand. Lower left hand and straighten left leg with left foot flexed, maintaining a flat back as you fold over left leg for a nice hammies stretch. Return to low lunge, step left foot back to high plank position, walk hands back toward feet, stand, and sweep arms overhead. Repeat on the other side.
2. Prone Chest Opener
Benefits: Stretches your chest and activates thoracic spine.Lie facedown with arms outstretched. (Keep arms in line with shoulders or slightly below.) Brace core, shift weight to right side, and lift left leg, sweeping it over right leg to touch floor. Allow left hip to come up as left hand raises straight up and gaze toward ceiling. Do each rep for 8 counts: Move for 4 counts, then hold for 4. Repeat on the other side.
3. Supine Knee Cross
Benefits: Improves lower-body mobility.Lie faceup with arms outstretched. Focus on keeping shoulders flat on the ground and fingertips down for leverage. Bend right knee and bring right leg into tabletop. Move right leg across body and allow right knee to touch floor (or come as close as possible without lifting right shoulder off floor). Repeat on the other side.
4. Reverse Lunge Hip Tuck
Benefits: Stretches iliopsoas and activates glutes.Start with feet hip width and hands on hips. Step left foot back into low lunge. From the kneeling position, tuck hips in. (It’s a small movement—not a twerk.) Return by lifting left knee to stand. Repeat on the other side.
5. Alternating Knee Hug and Ankle Grab
Benefits: Stretches your hip flexors and quads, and relaxes your glutes.Stand with feet hip width. Hug left knee to chest with both hands for a count of 2. Repeat on the other side. Take hold of left ankle for a quad stretch, raising right arm for balance. Focus on pointing left knee straight down, so thigh and hip are in a straight line. Repeat on the other side, then repeat sequence.
6. Alternating Hamstring Sweep
Benefits: Opens your chest, promotes shoulder mobility, and stretches hamstrings.With feet hip width and arms at your side, step left foot forward and flex foot. Send hips back, keep back flat, and sweep arms down toward the ground and as far forward as possible. Then sweep arms up in a big circle, as left foot steps back into place. Repeat on the other side, moving slowly and fluidly.
Special thanks to Barry’s Bootcamp trainer and A.C.C.E.S.S. founder Rebecca Kennedy, who designed these moves and modeled them for us. Kennedy wears her own Nike gear. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter, where you might catch her doing cool moves, like this handstand.