The Most Effective 10-Minute Warm-up for Any Workout

by David Reavy
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The Most Effective 10-Minute Warm-up for Any Workout

If your usual warm-up is five minutes at an easy pace on a cardio machine, a slower-paced jog or walk before you start a run or fitness walk, or—worse—nothing at all, stop doing all of these. What you need is a functional warm-up. A proper warm-up will prepare your body for activity by hitting all your muscles in a systemized way. For example, you want to focus on your hip flexors first and then move on to your glutes. This ensures all of your muscles are on and working together.

The following exercises provide an effective warm-up that will take you about 10 minutes once you get the moves down (and depending on how much foam rolling you need). Follow the order outlined below to maximize your body’s response. Going through one set of each of these exercises will get your body primed and ready to take on your activity. You should be able to get through your warm-up in about 10 minutes.

Releases

If you are tight in your hip flexors and legs, start here first.

Hip Flexor Release

hip flexor release 1

  1. Tape two lacrosse balls together.
  2. Lie on your stomach and place the double lacrosse ball just below your hip bone.
  3. Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the lacrosse balls.
  4. Bend the knee on the side of the release to a 90-degree angle.
  5. Swing your leg side to side in a tolerable range of motion.
  6. Repeat this in 30-second to 2-minute intervals.

hip flexor release 2

TFL Release

TFL release 1

  1. Lying on your stomach, place a foam roller or lacrosse ball on the front of your hip. Bend your knee and move your leg side to side.
  2. Move up and down, allowing the roller or ball to mobilize the muscles in the front of your hip.
  3. Continue to move the roller or ball around to tender spots. Complete these movements for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.

tfl release 2

Vastus Lateralis

vl release 1

  1. Lie on the side you wish to release. Place a foam roller under your bottom leg halfway between your hip and knee.
  2. Slide your leg up and down along the foam roller, moving it from the top of the knee to the base of the hip. Try to work over the more tender areas as you can tolerate.
  3. Repeat in 30-second to 2-minute intervals.
  4. To focus on a specific area of the IT band, locate the most tender area with the foam roller, and stop. Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle, and then straighten. Repeat motion of bending and straightening knee for 10-15 seconds. You may repeat this with other areas along the vastus lateralis.

vl release 2

Activation Exercises

Complete one set in the order provided.

Lunges

Forward-Reaching Lunge

forward-reaching lunge 1forward-reaching lunge 2

  1. Start in a split stance (one foot in front and one foot behind), and bring your back knee toward the floor so both legs form two 90-degree angles.
  2. Your hips should be slightly higher than the knees; your weight should be focused foreword through the heel of the front foot.
  3. Hold this stance and hinge from the hips.
  4. Bend forward as if you were reaching for something in front of you on the floor. Keep your back flat.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Reverse Lunge with Twist

lunge with twist 1lunge with twist 2

  1. With your feet shoulder-width apart, start in a shortened split stance.
  2. Bend your left foot and leg back behind you until you are in a full lunge.
  3. Hold at the bottom of the lunge and twist at the waist to the left and then the right.
  4. Repeat on right leg.
  5. Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Side-to-Side Lunges

side-bending lunge 1side-bending lunge 2

  1. Start in a split stance (as described in forward-reaching lunge above).
  2. Hold the stance and side bend your waist to the right, then the left.
  3. Repeat 5 times.

Up-and-Down Lunges

up-and-down lunge 1up-and-down lunge 2

  1. Start in a split stance.
  2. The front knee should move forward as little as possible, and should never pass the toes.
  3. Drive hips straight back up to come out of the lunge.
  4. Repeat 5 times on each leg.

Good Mornings

good morning 1good morning 2

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a slight bend in the knees, feet pointing straight forward, with your weight through the heels.
  2. Tuck your chin, keeping your spine straight throughout the entire movement.
  3. Keep your back flat (don’t arch or round it) and bend forward by hinging from your hips. Move your torso toward the floor. All the movement should come from your hips, not your back.
  4. Come back up to standing, keeping a neutral spine.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Inner Thigh Squats

inner thigh squats 1inner thigh squats 2

  1. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Your weight should be placed through your heels.
  2. As you begin to squat, bring your hips back like you’re going to sit in a chair that’s too far behind you. While squatting, try to move your knees out.
  3. Go as low as you can, then push back up through your heels.
  4. Repeat 5 times.

Glute Step Backs

glute stepback 1glute stepback 2

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slightly bend your supporting leg, keeping the knee over the heel.
  3. Bring the other foot back and behind the support leg.
  4. Keep your shoulders square and facing forward.
  5. Rotate the upper body toward the support leg.
  6. Facing forward, bend to the opposite side of the support leg.
  7. Switch your support leg and repeat.
  8. Repeat 5 times on each side.

About the Author

David Reavy

React_logoDavid Reavy is the founder and CEO of React Physical Therapy and creator of the Reavy Method. David’s own experiences with the limitations of traditional physical therapy inspired him to develop the Reavy Method, now recognized by the Illinois Physical Therapy Association as a continuing education course for physical therapists. The Reavy Method creates strength through balance using dynamic assessment, muscle release, and muscle activation. By balancing the body, the Reavy Method not only brings patients back to their previous level of function but also helps them become stronger than ever. David is a board certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy with credentials from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Past and current clients include Matt Forte, Tracy McGrady, and the many clients that come through React Physical Therapy in Chicago, IL every day. Follow React Physical Therapy on Twitter and Facebook.

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11 responses to “The Most Effective 10-Minute Warm-up for Any Workout”

  1. Joyce Sunderland says:

    What else could be used if you don’t have a foam roller or lacrosse balls?

    • Hayley Noël says:

      This was also my thought. Do most people have lacrosse balls lying around? lol

      • Stephen Lombardi says:

        No but most sporting goods stores sell them. Isn’t preventing injury worth a few bucks? You can try a unopened 2 litter soda bottle.

    • The Meatless Marathoner says:

      You can use tennis balls. They’re not hard like lacrosse balls, but they do the job. Tape them together with white bandaging tape–around both at 90 degree angles and then tape around the space between them several times–then do the whole tape job again for stability. It takes a LOT of tape, but it’s effective.

  2. Sharon Dee says:

    I have to get on the floor to warm up? Not happening; I can’t even get on the floor to exercise. I guess I’ll keep doing the slow-starting walk.

  3. Patricia Knight says:

    I have knee problems and cannot do squats, or anything weight-bearing with a bent knee. I do Zumba 2X a week and weights 3X. (I also walk at least 1-2 miles a day.) What is a good stretching warm-up without squats?
    Thanks
    PK

  4. CQ says:

    Thank you for the modestly dressed models in the photos.

  5. Danny Cruz says:

    I have been using this warm up on my under 13 boys warm up and found the boys are much more prepared than dynamic stretching before games. They are also more responsive the first 15 min of the game. The time it takes the mucle to respond from the regular stretching we did.
    All the boys have a short roller in their bag.

  6. Linann says:

    I wish this was done on a video.

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