8 dynamic warming up routines to do before your workout

An ideal workout routine includes a dynamic warm-up, which means you need to move while you stretch. Warming up is important before working out to prevent any possible injuries. 

Dynamic warm-up promotes stretching through a joint’s full range of motion and allows muscles to prepare for more intense exercise to come.

The key aspect of doing a dynamic warm-up is to ensure that it is progressive, meaning your body should adapt as you challenge it with new exercises.

How do dynamic warm-ups work?

Dynamic warm-ups include a series of drills and dynamic stretches that use joints at a full range of motion.

This type of warming up generally promotes better blood circulation, helps prevent injuries and muscle soreness and improves overall physical performance. 

To fully understand the concept, think of a sprinter skipping down the track, a goalkeeper side shuffling with the pitch or a point guard going through the motions of a free throw. 

Adding dynamic movements in your warm-up routine increases your body temperature and begins gently stressing your soft tissues.

The heat and stress produced by dynamic warm-ups are called a thixotropic effect [1]. 

Due to its fast-paced nature, dynamic stretching can also activate intracellular sensors that are called muscle spindles.

Then, these muscle spindles amplify the electric currents, which help the mind and muscles communicate, making the muscles more responsive.

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The opposite effect may be experienced when holding long, slow stretches. The same spindles may suppress and slow down the messages of your brain and body, which can help lower tension and tightness.

Static stretching is one example of this, which may not fully prepare you for a workout [2].

Moreover, you can benefit from dynamic warm-ups as they enhance your body’s agility and coordination and lessen your risk of injury.

Study shows that performing pre-workout routines twice a week within 10 to 12 weeks can protect muscles, joints and bones from harm [3]. 

Dynamic stretching vs static stretching

Static warm-ups are great for stretching joints and becoming more limber before a workout; however, they have limitations and are not as effective for priming the muscles.

Take note the reason you’re warming up is to prepare your body for the exercises you are about to do.

Hence, static stretching will only take you that far unless you are warming up for an isometric workout routine.

Similarly, you should not jog as your preparation for your weightlifting routine. Steady-state cardio has numerous health benefits and aids in shedding more fat; however, it is not priming any lifting muscles.

Running is much better for a low-intensity post-workout routine as it helps build muscle endurance, even if you are only on a leg day. 

Dynamic stretching vs static stretching

You should also consider mimicking the workout you plan to perform, which is what dynamic stretching promotes, making it really helpful for many athletes. In short, functional strength is the key.

Dynamic stretching requires limited movements but not explosive energy, similar to a plyometric exercise. It is also a better preparation for strength training and resistance training. 

Meanwhile, static stretching is great when you need to cool down after a workout, as dynamic stretching promotes good blood flow and can put your body muscles to their full range of motion.

In static stretching, you need to hold one position for a short time, which is the opposite of dynamic stretching as it requires additional movement.

Both of these warm-up exercises can increase the body temperature and effectively prime parts of your body for exercise; however, dynamic stretching is still a better preparation for weightlifting.

Dynamic warming up routines 

You can add the following warm-up exercises to maximize the full benefit of dynamic stretching during or after your workout routine.

1. Arm circles 

This warm-up exercise is good for the upper body. You can freely open up your shoulders and arm muscles with arm circles. The concept is to rotate your arms in both directions to maximize the exercise. 

Steps to do arm circles: 

  • Begin your warm-up by standing with your feet in a wide stance. 
  • Then, lift both your arms out to each side at shoulder height. 
  • Slowly get your hands in a clockwise direction. 
  • Complete five to ten rotations and then reverse your rotation to go counterclockwise for a similar number of reps. 
  • You should count up to 30 seconds for the exercise and aim to go in each direction at least three times. 

2. Hip circles

You can easily perform hip circles, but you can make it more challenging by raising your leg off the ground higher or just simply wrapping a resistance band around your legs. 

Steps to do hip circles: 

  • Stand with both hands on your hips. Then, raise your right leg slightly in front of you or out to the side, or whatever feels more comfortable. 
  • Rotate your right foot clockwise five turns and then counterclockwise five turns.
  • Return your right foot back down to the ground. 
  • Repeat the process with the left foot.
  • Perform three sets on each leg.
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3. High knees

It is a simple warm-up exercise that also provides a bit of cardio. Remember that you are not hopping while doing high knees, as that movement is less controlled and won’t be as effective.

Steps to do high knees:

  • Begin in a standing position with both your hands at their sides.
  • Then, slowly lift your right leg and left arm simultaneously. Your right knee must bend until your thigh becomes parallel to the floor, while the left arm should be in front of you. 
  • Return to your starting position and repeat the similar movement with your left leg and right arm while bending the right knee this time. 
  • Repeat until you reach 10 to 12 reps on each leg.

4. Leg swings 

When you perform leg swings, you can prime your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calves before your workout. The only thing is that you might need a chair to stay balanced.

Steps to do leg swings:

  • When using a chair, you should stand behind it with one chair on the back. If none, place your hands on your hips. 
  • Then, kick your right leg forward as high as you can but without using too much force. You must let your leg swing back down and then back behind you. 
  • You can also either continue with the right leg until you have completed 10 to 15 reps, or you can switch to the left leg and alternate until you have done the same number of reps on each side of your body. 

5. Carioca

Compared to leg swings, carioca is much more challenging; however, the two really go well together for a full dynamic lower-body warm-up.

Steps to do carioca:

  • Put your feet shoulder-width apart in the standing position. 
  • Then, cross your left leg over your right leg. Place it right outside your right foot. 
  • Now, move your right foot behind your left leg in order to get back into a similar starting position slightly to your right. 
  • Repeat the same motion ten times in one direction.
  • Perform ten more to get back where you started. If you are not working with much room, perform a rep in one direction and then the other. 

6. Inchworms

This warm-up routine is pretty much straightforward, and some alterations are normally done to occupy personal preference.

Steps to do inchworms:

  • Have your body in a forward plank position, similar to a push-up. You should keep your wrists stacked and back flat. 
  • Based on your preference, you can either take steps forward with each foot or backward with each hand. 
  • Do this until your hands and feet are together, and your butt is up in the air. 
  • Then, use the other limbs for you to crawl back out into the push-up position. 
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times. 

7. Lateral lunge 

It is a particularly great warm-up as it allows you to hold onto some free weights and break right into your leg day routine. Just be careful with your knees because they might not be used to the movement of this warm-up exercise.

Dynamic warming-up routines to maximize your exercise

Steps to make lateral lunges: 

  • Start in a standing position. 
  • Step out to the left with your left leg. 
  • Ensure that you step slightly forward so that you can keep your toes pointed straight forward all throughout the entire exercise. 
  • After getting your left foot flat on the ground, bend your left knee and move your whole body to the left in a lunging motion. 
  • Do the movement at a controlled pace to prevent undue stress on the knee.
  • Then, push through your left foot to return to the starting position and repeat the same movements with your right leg. 

8. Trunk twists 

You can surely open up your lower back with trunk twists as they are considered a fast rotation warm-up. You can also use this exercise to relieve minor back pain or cool down after intense hinging exercises, such as a deadlift. 

Steps to do trunk twists: 

  • Begin the warming up by standing with both your hands on your hips and your feet in a slightly wide stance.
  • Slowly rotate your trunk to the right as far as you can go. 
  • Hold the stretch at the furthest position possible for a second or two, then go back to the starting position.
  • Perform the same rotation in the other direction, hold and return.
  • Rotate ten times in each direction.
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[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9157522/ 
[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/05/well/move/dynamic-warm-up-exercises.html 
[3] https://bmcsportsscimedrehabil.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13102-017-0083-z 

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