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How to Warm Up For Strength Training

Gym 101: Strength-Training Warmup

A solid warmup sets you up for a solid workout. When it comes to prepping for strength training, an active warmup primes the joints and muscles, prepping them for the heavy lifting. For a proper warmup, Equinox trainer Lauren Fairbanks recommends getting the heart rate up a bit with five minutes of cardio, like running on a treadmill, jumping rope, or using an elliptical, followed by three to five minutes of dynamic stretching. Lauren suggests doing at least three of these dynamic stretches before heading to the weight rack. Or do all five moves for a very thorough warmup.

Rocking Lunge
Give an active stretch to both your hips and hamstrings with the rocking lunge. Start in a deep lunge with your left leg forward; you can even bring your right knee to the floor. Straighten your left knee to rock your weight back and onto your right foot, lengthening the left hamstring. Flex your left toes as you rock into the hamstring stretch to lengthen the calf a bit too. Return back to your deep lunge, and repeat for a total of 10 times on each side.

Toy Soldier
A walking kick, the toy soldier stretches out the back of the leg, both hamstrings and calves. Step forward on your right foot, and kick your left leg forward, bringing your left toes toward your right hand. Step onto your left foot and kick the right leg, bringing the right foot toward your left hand. Take 20 steps total.

This slow and deliberate full-body move is great for warming up the upper body and core. Begin standing, and bend in half at the waist to walk your hands forward until you're in a plank position. Do one push-up, and then walk your hands back to your feet, lingering in Downward Dog to give your calves an extra stretch — this is especially important if you're doing plyometric jumping moves in your workout. Do eight to 10.

Sideways Shuffle
This move keeps the body in motion while priming it for side-to-side lateral exercises. With your legs wide apart and toes pointed forward, side lunge to the left, then shift weight to the right side for another lunge, and follow with two shuffles to the left, stopping in a lunge to the left to repeat the sequence again. Go one direction for 10 reps, and then switch sides.

Walking Lunges With Side Stretch
Adding a side stretch to slow and steady walking lunges primes the entire body for a workout (this move is also perfect for cooking down after a run). Take a big step forward with your right foot and lunge, bringing your left arm up and stretching to the right. Follow this with a big step forward with your left foot, stretching your right arm to the left. Repeat until you have taken 10 steps per foot.

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