Black woman in fitness clothing doing lunge exercise | warm-up exercises

The best workouts start with an effective, dynamic warm-up to prepare your body for the exercise it’s about to perform. You might be tempted to jump right into your workout without warming up—but I encourage you not to skip this essential step! 

Here’s why:

Most of us sit for long periods of time, which can lead to tight muscles and stiff joints. By completing a dynamic warm-up before your workout, you are stretching the muscles and joints through their full range of motion, which will help prevent injury. Another benefit to warming up is the gradual increase in your heart rate instead of increasing your heart rate abruptly, which can put strain on your cardiovascular system. A good warm-up increases blood circulation and helps muscles and joints practice the movements to come. 

A good rule of thumb is to spend five to seven minutes warming up before you exercise. Ideally you want your body to be at the brink of perspiration. Below is a basic warm-up routine that will prep you for just about any workout. 

Warm-up exercises

Start in a push-up plank position: shoulders over wrists, bottom squeezed tight, belly button in. Using your shoulders, press your bottom up and back to a downward dog position, and use your right arm to tap your left knee. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. For a modification, remove the knee tap. Repeat 10-12 times for 2 sets.

Begin by lying on the ground facing the ceiling. Bend your knees so that your heels are close to your bottom. Pressing through your heels, lift your hips to the ceiling while squeezing your glutes. Return to the starting position and repeat 10-12 times for 2 sets.

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and hug the belly button in. Squat down, making sure your back stays flat. Return to standing, take a quarter turn to the right, and perform another squat. Return to the starting position and repeat five times. Once completed, repeat the entire sequence on the other side. Do this for one to two sets.

Stand with your feet slightly closer together than shoulder width. Step forward with your right leg and bend both legs to perform a forward lunge. Twist your torso toward the left, then return to center. Push off your right leg to return to the starting position. Repeat movement on the opposite side. Complete 10-12 repetitions for 1-2 sets.

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Balancing on one leg, pull your right knee toward your belly button. For a deeper stretch, use the arms to gently tug the knee a little higher. Return the foot to the floor and repeat on the other side, performing 10-12 repetitions for 1-2 sets.

Stand sideways. Step to the side with your right foot, then step in front of your right foot with your left foot. Step to the side again with your right, then step behind with your left. Step to the side again with your right. That is one repetition. Do about 10 of these, adding speed as you get used to the footwork. After 10, repeat on the other side (stepping to the side with your left foot, crossing the right foot in front, etc.). Do each direction twice.

Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Step to the right with your right foot, then step your left foot next to your right. Try to do this at a quicker pace as you get used to the movement. Complete 10 to the right, then 10 to the left. Do this two times.


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