Want to have a great run or workout? Start by mastering your warmup. With specific activation drills and movement preparation exercises, you can ensure your body has the mobility necessary to handle whatever you throw its way.
Instead of passive, or static, stretches — where you stretch a muscle and hold it for time — dynamic stretches are exercises that move your muscles and joints through a full-range of motion so you can prepare yourself for the ultimate performance.
WHAT YOUR LOWER BODY NEEDS
Because of our lifestyles and our body’s natural asymmetries, there are some very common lower-body issues that need to be addressed. Here are some of the essentials:
- More hip mobility
- More ankle mobility and stability
- More glute activation
- More hamstring strength and activation
- More activation in your adductors
By achieving these things, you’ll move better, feel better and unlock your full potential whether you’re running five miles or trying to set a new personal record on a back squat.
Try these lower-body drills before your next training session and feel the difference:
1. 90/90 HIP LIFT
Created by the Postural Restoration Institute, this is the mother of all breathing exercises. It seems subtle, but it does so much. It teaches diaphragmatic breathing while strengthening your hamstrings, activating your adductors, relaxing your lower back, activating your obliques and repositioning your pelvis and ribcage.
The move: Lie on your back with your heels on a bench so you make 90-degree angles at your knees and hips. Place a small pad or rolled up towel between your knees and squeeze. Drive your heels into the bench, which turns on your hamstrings and lifts your hips off the ground. While holding this position, make a loud sigh as you exhale. Close your mouth, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and let air come in through your nose. Repeat 8 times.
2. WALL ANKLE MOBILIZATIONS
Whether you’re a runner or you’re just trying to lift more weight, you need to improve your ankle mobility. Many lower-body issues occur when your ankles are restricted, for example: knee pain, lower-back pain and even shoulder issues.
Make sure these highly mobile joints are loose and ready to go for your training routine with this super simple mobility drill.
The move: Stand facing a wall with one foot a few inches away from the wall. Keep your heel on the ground and drive your knee over your middle three toes and touch the wall. Adjust the distance your foot is from the wall so you get a good stretch in your ankles while still touching the wall with your knee and keeping your heel on the ground.
3. LATERAL SQUATS
These are a great warmup drill to take your hips through a full range-of-motion so you’re far more mobile after a long day of sitting.
The move: Start with a very wide stance and your feet pointed straight ahead. Sit back into one hip and push that knee out. You should feel a nice stretch throughout your hips. Repeat on the other side.
4. WALKING SPIDERMAN LUNGES
Use this drill to dynamically warm up many areas at once: It not only increases your hip mobility, but it also stretches your thoracic spine and gets your blood flowing.
The move: With your left leg, lunge forward and left about 30-degrees. Place both hands on the ground while keeping your elbows locked and press your trailing knee to the ground. Squeeze the glute of the rear leg and extend your right arm to the sky while watching your hand with your eyes. Maintain a neutral arch in your lower back throughout. Stand up and switch sides.
5. SQUAT TO STAND
Now, it’s time to put everything together into one fundamental movement pattern: the squat. Instead of dropping down into a squat, you’ll actually pull yourself down into the right position, stretch your hips and then just push yourself up.
The move: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at your hips, grab your toes, Then, pull yourself down into a squat while keeping your arms straight and your hands grabbing your toes. Raise your hips and repeat.