The best way to unlock your full potential every time you train is with a thorough warmup to prepare your body and mind for optimal performance.
But here’s a tough truth: Most warmups need an upgrade. For example, doing a few basic stretches and a 10-minute jog won’t help you reach your maximum potential.
Instead, follow this warmup plan — with some foam rolling beforehand — to perform your very best — it activates weak muscles, releases chronically tight muscles and fires up your nervous system. Now, your body will have more range-of-motion, stability and force production so you can move safely, efficiently and powerfully.
YOUR ULTIMATE 5-MOVE WARMUP
1. BEAR CRAWL
Crawls are one of the best ways to warm up your entire body. They target your deep core muscles and shoulder stabilizers while grooving better movement patterns in a very easy way.
The move: Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-time athlete or a novice, everyone needs good mobility in their thoracic spine (the mid-back area). This movement drill does a fantastic job of opening those tight muscles and joints for everything from lifting weights to rowing.
The move: Bend your knees slightly and bend over at your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the ground. Keep your lower back flat and extend your arms towards the floor in front of your chest with your palms facing out. Reach up with one arm and follow that hand with your eyes, feeling a stretch at your shoulder blades and thoracic spine. Repeat with the other arm and continue alternating. Do 8 reps on each side.
Sometimes referred to as the “world’s greatest stretch,” you can see how it gets its name. Each repetition works to dynamically stretch your hips and groin and even opens your thoracic spine, which are all commonly stiff areas.
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. Switch sides. Do 5 reps on each side.
If you typically do static hamstring stretches before running (holding a stretch for time), try these instead. By doing single-leg Romanian deadlifts, you’ll dynamically stretch and activate your hamstrings (instead of lengthening and weakening them with static stretches) and glutes so your hips and legs are ready for anything.
The move: Slowly bend forward and pull one leg behind. Once your torso is parallel to the ground, drive back up and squeeze with your glute. Don’t twist your hips to the side — keep them square and facing forward. Keep your lower back flat. Take a step back and alternate legs. Do 6 reps on each side.
Now that your body is loose and limber, use this explosive, plyometric move to activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers and get your nervous system fired up for optimal performance.
The move: Jump explosively from leg to the other, trying to cover as much ground as possible. When you land, be as quiet as possible and pause for 1–2 seconds before jumping to the other leg. Do 5 reps on each side.