Regimens: Setting Your Warm-up in Motion

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, September 1995

Regimens: Setting Your Warm-up in Motion
By Dave Kuehls

The traditional preworkout stretching ritual is as old as the planks in that park bench where you regularly perform it. The problem is, it's about as static too. "You're essentially standing still when you stretch," says Walt Reynolds, a strength and conditioning specialist at the Michigan Athletic Club in East Lansing, Michigan. "A good warm-up should help you progress into your sport. It should get you moving."

Reynolds recommends mobility drills--those bending, twisting, and kicking moves that you might have done back in high-school gym class--as a supplement to preworkout stretches. Start with five minutes of jogging, do your regular stretching routine, and then work through the exercises described here, in order. Stretches alone, without mobility drills, are fine after the workout, when you have nothing to do later but get back to that park bench.

Overhead Arm Swings
Stand with your back straight and your arms at your sides. Swing both arms up over your head, back down behind your hips, and then up again. Start slowly and try for a smooth, controlled motion. Repeat ten to 12 times.

Hip Circles
Besides the hips, this drill recruits the obliques, the groin, and the lower back muscles. With your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, place your hands on your hips. Rotate your pelvis, making circles with your hips. Make ten to 12 clockwise circles and then ten to 12 counterclockwise.

Leg Swings
Stand next to and about an arm's length from a wall and place your right palm on it for support. Put your weight on your left leg and swing your right leg straight in front of you then behind you, like a pendulum. Repeat ten to 12 times and then do ten to 12 swings with your left leg.

Bent-Knee Leg Swings
Leg swings with an angle, these moves warm up the muscles surrounding and supporting the knees. From the same starting position as leg swings, flex your hip and knee, and bring your knee up like you're bouncing a soccer ball off it. Straighten the leg when you swing it behind you, without locking or jolting your knee. Do ten to 12 repetitions with each leg.

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