Whether you're setting out for a run or getting ready for a strength-training circuit, you can benefit from a dynamic (active) warmup, which raises your heart rate slightly while preparing your body for your workout. "A dynamic warmup is really good for everybody as they make the transition from whatever they were doing before their workout to their workout. Another term for it is 'movement preparation,'" says Jennifer Pattee, owner of Basic Training. "It gets your body ready from, say, sitting in your car to moving vigorously on the beach." Dynamic moves also help your body release synovial fluid, a viscous liquid that is "like WD40 for your joints," Jennifer explains.
Jennifer shared with us a few moves she likes to do before a workout. This warmup should take you about five to seven minutes to complete, and it's worth taking the time. "It just feels good!" she says. Learn the moves below.
Loosen hamstrings and tight hips with this effective move, which "prepares your body to do more vigorous things like running," Jennifer says. "If you've been sitting at your desk all day long, it's really good to take some time to stretch your hamstrings and get your hips ready."
- Stand somewhere where you have enough room to walk. Step forward with your right leg, and as you do, lean over and slide both hands down your right leg until you reach your feet or the ground. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring.
- Raise your torso back up to standing position; then step forward again, this time with your left leg.
- Slide both hands down your left leg until they reach your feet or the ground. Raise back up to standing.
- Repeat 15 times per leg.
Toy Soldier With Butt Kick
Continue to warm up both hamstrings and quads with the Toy Soldier.
- Stand somewhere where your have enough room to walk.
- Swing your left leg out in front of you, chest high or as high as you can go. Keeping your back straight, reach out with your right hand to try to touch your toes.
- Now, swing your left down and back into a butt kick. Grab onto your left foot with your right hand once it is behind you (as shown).
- Lower your left leg down a little bit in front of you. As you step forward, swing your right leg up to repeat the movements on your right side (using your left hand to touch your toes and grab your foot).
- Repeat 15 times per leg.
The walking lunge does it all, so make it part of your regular workout routine. "You get a lot of bang for your buck," Jennifer says. "It's a dynamic stretch, so as you're lunging, you're preparing your body for movement, but you're also lunging your body weight up and down, so it's also resistance training. It's also helping strengthen the ligaments and muscles around your joints. And it's a great way for women especially to tone the butt — to get that kind of shelf butt."
- Stand upright, feet together, in an area where you have room to walk.
- Take a controlled step forward with your right leg. Lower hips toward the floor, and bend both knees (almost at 90-degree angles). The back knee should come close but never touch the ground. Your front knee should be directly over the ankle, and the back knee should be pointing down toward the floor.
- Push off with your left foot, and bring it forward to starting position. As you raise back up, keep the weight off your right foot on your heel, and curl up your toes; this helps tone your backside even more, Jennifer says.
- Once you are back to standing position, step forward and repeat with the left leg.
- Continue for one to five minutes, depending on your level (one minute for a beginner, five minutes if you're advanced).