Dynamic Warm-up

How To Do A Dynamic Warm-up
By Alli McKeeFebruary 19, 2016

Dynamic Warm-up - How To Do A Dynamic Warm-up

A dynamic warm-up is a key component of your overall workout. A dynamic warm up will get you prepared for your workout, and it will improve your overall health. Here is a short but effective warm-up routine that you can do before your workouts.

Equipment needed:

You do not need any equipment to perform this dynamic warm up routine.

Ability level:

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Women of all fitness levels can do the same dynamic warm up exercises, and should perform between 6-10 reps of each exercise.

Benefits of Dynamic Warm-Ups:

In general, the dynamic warm-up can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • Prepares the muscles and joints for the workout
  • Helps safeguard the body against injuries
  • Helps you mentally prepare for the workout

How to perform a Dynamic Warm-Up:

I will briefly describe each of the dynamic warmup exercises:

  • Hip mobility exercise to open up the hips: Lie on your back and lightly pull your knees towards your chest. It should be a gentle pull.
  • Active straight leg raise: You can keep both your legs extended or you can bend one knee and keep your foot flat on the ground. Do not allow any movement to occur in your spine. You can keep your hands under the small of your back. Keep your foot flexed, and knee locked, and slowly raise your leg. Lower your leg with control. Stop if you feel your lower back begin to arch.
  • Half kneeling hip flexor stretch: Get into into a half kneeling position, and keep your leg in line with the rest of your body. While keeping a neutral spine, gently squeeze your glute of the back leg, and gently push your hips forward. Hold the stretch for a couple of seconds. Keep your ribs stacked over your hips. Do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or ribcage to flare.
  • Hip circles and fire hydrants: Get on all fours and in a quadruped position. Your hands should be right under your shoulders, and your knees directly underneath your hips. A lot of people, when they get in this quadruped position, will position their knees really far apart because they don’t have any core stability. Pick up your knee and draw some circles.  Then go straight out to the side and perform the fire hydrant. Make sure that all of the movement comes from your hips instead of your lower back, and use your glutes to perform the movements.
  • Bird dog: Get into the quadruped position. Keep your spine in neutral alignment, and body in a straight line from your head to hips. Now extend your leg and your opposite arm, hold it there for a moment, then perform with the opposite arm and leg. If this is too challenging for you, you can always start by only extending either your arm or your leg, and then progress to here. Do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or ribcage to flare.
  • Glute bridge: Lie on your back, place your feet so they are about hip width apart, and bend your knees. Inhale through your nose, out through your mouth, slightly brace your core, drive through the back of your feet, squeeze your glutes and pick up your hips, hold for a few seconds, and lower with control. It is important that you move as a unit and do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or ribcage to flare. Keep your core muscles braced.
  • Clamshell: This will help activate your glute muscles. Lie on your side, stack your feet, bend your knees, and scissor your top knee over your bottom knee. Maintain a neutral spine. Keep your legs relaxed, now use your glutes to slowly open your knees, and close them with control. Don't allow your knees to fully come together, and do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or rotate, or your pelvis to twist. The movement should only occur in your hip. Use whatever range allows you to feel your glutes, and maintain proper alignment.
  • Open book: Lie on your side and position your body so it is as straight as possible. Take your top leg and pull it up as high towards your chest as you can, and grip this leg with your opposite arm. Put your hands behind your head, breathe in, and as you exhale, you are going to rotate, take your elbow towards the opposite wall, come back, breathe in.

This is a dynamic warm up definition. Figure out what works for you, and customize your warm up accordingly.

Video Transcription: 

A dynamic warm-up is an absolutely crucial part of your overall workout.. Not only does it get you prepared to actually workout but it can keep you healthy as well. In general I perform between 6 to 10 repetitions of all the exercises in my dynamic warm-up. Ten would be better, but let's be honest:  most people don't want to spend that more time doing their dynamic warm-up, so I’d rather you do 6 repetitions than to skip it completely. While every individual is different and is going to have different needs, there are a few basics we generally try to cover with our dynamic warm-up. We are going to do hip mobility exercises to open up the hips. We are going to do glute activation work to get the glutes firing. We want to open up the thoracic spine and get some mobilization there. We want to get the core activated. So I am going to show you some exercises to do that.

First and foremost I am just going to lay on my back and pull my knees up to my chest (I am not going to complete all repetitions of every exercise, just for time’s sake). Here it is really simple, just take the knee and give it a little tug.  You don't want to pull it up too high, keep it nice and controlled. Just do 6 to 10 on that side.

Next is going to be an active straight leg raise. You can leave both your legs extended or you can bend one at your knee to keep your foot flat on the ground. The most important thing here is that you are not getting any motion through your spine. Some people like to put their hands in the small of their back, so that whenever they feel pressure on their hands from their lower back while they are raising their leg they know that they are getting ready to start to get motion through their spine. So I am raising it slowly, keeping my knee locked, keeping the foot flexed and stop when I feel pressure on my hand. So that’s the active straight leg raise.

Now I am going to flip over and do a half kneeling hip flexor stretch. There are tons of different hip flexor stretches you can do, but I like this one because it makes sure that you are not pushing too far forward. With some of the other ones some people stretch too far and they actually over stretch their hip flexors and that's not what we want to do here. I am getting into a half kneeling position, my leg should be in line with the rest of my body. It’s a really small movement - I am going to take my pelvis and gently tuck it under. I am going to relax, tuck it under, I am squeezing my glute. Again you don't want to jam too far forward, it is just a really light tuck and squeeze. Some people will feel more of the stretch than others and that's fine. Hold it for a couple of seconds.

So because I just did a little mild hip flexor stretch I am going to follow that up with some glute activation stuff and some more hip mobility. I am going to get on all fours and do some knee circles. My hands are right under my shoulders and my knees are directly underneath my hips. A lot of people, when they get in this quadruped position, will base out their knees really wide because they don't have any core stability. Their body is trying to widen their base of support because they don't have stability in their core. So here you want hands right under shoulders, knees right under the hips, and you are just going to pick the knee up and just draw some circles.  We usually go 6 to 10 in one direction, 6 to 10 in the other. Then we go straight out to the side and this is called the fire hydrant. Really important here - it is not about range of motion, you don't want to be twisting through that lower back to get the leg up.  Let it all come from the hip. You are going to use the glute to do it. Think about lifting your knee up with your glute. That was quadruped hip circles and fire hydrant.

Next I am going to demonstrate something called birddog. A birddog looks really simple and, again, you want to make sure you are doing them correctly. Get into the quadruped position,  everything’s nice and neutral, you are going to extend your leg and your opposite arm, hold it there for a moment, then you are going to switch. If this is too challenging for you, you can always start by only extending either your arm or your leg, and then progress to here. This is not same side - that one is really tough, if you can do that I will be very impressed. Start on the opposite leg, and make sure that that leg doesn't go too high - a lot of people do a bird dog like this and that's not what we are going for. You are going to flex the glute, keep the core from sagging, think about balancing something right here

Next is going to be a glute bridge. I’ll flip over on my back and put my feet about hip width apart. Even though this is just a warm-up, I might want to do a light breath in through my nose, out through my mouth, slightly brace my core, up and squeeze my glutes and down. You can hold these at the top for a couple of seconds if you like, whatever is most comfortable to you. It is really important that all of this moves as a unit. A lot of people will come up and hyperextend at the top and then their butt will come down and their rib cage will still be up. You want all of this to move as a unit which is why we do the breath. Big breath in, blow out. Even something as simple as a glute bridge can be messed up if you are not in the right position. I am driving through my heels and coming up and squeezing my butt.

Next I am going to make to a clam or a clam shell. I am going to lying on my side in kind of a fetal position and, this part is really crucial, I am going to take my leg and I am kind of going to scissor my top knee over my bottom knee. The reason this is important is that is to block rotation through my back. When a lot of people do clam shells they open up really wide and they rotate through their lumbar spine. What I want to do is scissor those knees, lock this hip in place and only get the mobility through my hip. This makes me really use my glute as well. That's a clam shell.

Now I am going to demonstrate what's called open book. You are going to lie on your side and get nice and straight as possible as you can. You are going to take your top leg and pull it up as high towards your chest as you can and you are going to grip it with your opposite arm.  Again get nice and straight as you can, take this top leg, grab underneath the knee and grip it.  Your hands are going to go behind your head, you are going to breathe in and as you blow out you are going to rotate, take your elbow towards the opposite wall, come back, breathe in. Again your goal is to eventually be able to almost lie totally flat with your back on the ground. That’s open book. Great for thoracic mobility and so is quadruped extension rotation , which I am going to show you right now.

As I mentioned earlier quadruped is this position, you can do quadruped extension rotation from this position or - which is how I like to do it - you can rock and kind of sit back onto your heels. The reason being is if you are sitting back onto your heels, you are going to be blocking that lumbar rotation. You will see that's kind of the theme here. People want to get so much movement through there because they don't have core stability. You can do it from here, and your hand goes behind your ear, you are going to brace your core lightly, you are going to take this elbow between this hand and this knee and then I am going to extend and rotate it towards the ceiling kind of at a diagonal, here, here, down, extend and rotate.  I am looking at this elbow the whole time. Again if you are here, a lot of people do this with their spine, they will side bend they will do anything that they can to not to keep their core stable. I like to sit back to block that rotation, go down, open up..

Again, this is just my favorite dynamic warm-up, you might have some other exercises that you want to do. Or specific things, for example if you need to work on ankle mobility more or you need to do some extra things for your glutes that’s totally fine. But in general this is a really good warm-up to help open that chest up, open up the thoracic spine, open up the hips a little bit, gets the glutes firing, gets the core firing and gets you prepared for your work out.


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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.

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