6 Quick Dynamic Warm Up Exercises for Runners

dynamic warm up exercises

As a runner, if you are serious about performing your best and preventing injury, then you need to start doing both general and specific warm-up exercises before your runs, especially before hard workouts and races.

The dynamic warm-up I’m sharing with you today includes movements in all three planes of motion with a focus on muscle elasticity and joint mobility.

So what’s a dynamic warm-up?

A dynamic warm-up challenges every part of your body that you use to run, and it has two phases: General and specific.

The general phase is about raising your body’s temperature and increasing blood flow and circulation to the muscles, which improves and promotes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles.

On the other hand, the specific part of the warm-up active your nervous system while using very similar biomechanics used in running, therefore, preparing the muscles to fire in the most running-specific way possible.

Benefits Of Dynamic Warm-ups

First of all it’s all about the heart rate.

By doing this warm-up before a workout you will get your heart rate up and blood flowing throughout your body, which can help you prevent injury and premature fatigue as well as increase performance and training enjoyment.

This dynamic warm-up routine can help coordinate all of your moving parts—think joints, ligaments, and muscles—and get them to move together in the most efficient way possible.

This is done by challenging your stability, strength, flexibility and mobility all at ounce.

In addition, this also will help you open up your joints and get them well lubricated, especially those within your ankles, feet, hips and spine.

Specific warm-up Directions & Tips

The length and intensity of your warm-up depend on your fitness level, workout intensity, temperature, the amount of clothing worn,  and your personal preferences.

But as a rule of thumb, the more vigorous the exercise, the longer it should take you to get warmed up.

This means that you should spend more time warming up for more intense running workouts, such as sprints, or hill reps.

On the other hand, you can spend less time warming up for easy, to moderate sessions, such as easy recovery runs.

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The Warm-up Breakdown

Now let’s take you through my favorite warm-up.

What follows is the exact training recipe I follow whenever I’m warming for a workout, or when I’m working with another runner or training partner.

How Long?

A good dynamic warm-up can take you up to 10 minutes.

That comprises 5 minutes of light aerobic movement followed by 5 minutes of dynamic exercises.

Sometimes, that might add up to 15 minutes, but it’s worth it—especially before any intense, vigorous, running training.

The Two Main Ingredients

A proper warm-up includes two distinct phases.

First, start with a low- to moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging on the spot, or low-intensity running.

In general, brisk walking is my default setting for warming up.

Many runners scoff at walking.

But, in fact, walking is the perfect low-intensity exercise to ease your body out of sedentary mode into running mode.

This holds especially true when you’re heading out the door for a run after a long day of sitting at a desk or a night of sleep.

As a result, start your runs with a 5-minute walk.

Walk for more if you are exercising first thing in the morning or after prolonged sitting.

Also, make sure to pump your arms or swing them side to side to help warm up the muscles of your upper body.

Secondly, do a dynamic stretching routine.

So, what is it? And how can it help you warm up right?

A dynamic warm-up simply means you’re moving as you stretch.

It consists of a series of mobility and strength exercises designed to increase total body temperature, fire up the nervous system, improve range of motion, and reduce functional limitations.

A dynamic warm-up will reduce the risks of injury and make your muscle contractions more efficient.

Static stretching is the opposite.

And it’s not the best way to get your body for exercise.

The fact is, research shows that static stretching—holding a stretch for an extended period—can hinder performance and might lead to injury.

And you don’t want that.

runner doing Dynamic Warm Up

The Dynamic Warm-Up Routine You Need

Here are the five warm-up moves I do inside before heading out for a run.

Perform these exercises before your runs (and other workouts too) to boost your range of motion, loosen up tight muscles (especially if you are running in the early morning) and increase your circulation.

1. Toy Soldier

Benefits

This exercise increases body temperature and heart rate, preparing your whole body for the task ahead.

It’s also key for warming up the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes—key running muscles.

This move also stretches the back of your upper legs and fires up the core.

Proper Form

While keeping your back flat, knees straight, and core engaged, step forward, and kick your right leg straight out in front of your body up to waist level, flexing your toes the entire time.

Extend your left arm at the same time as if you are reaching out to touch your right foot.

Release and change sides.

Do 12 reps on each leg.

2. Side Step/Shuffle

Benefits

This is a lateral move that warms up the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and hips flexors—most of the key running muscles.

Not only that, if you perform this move as fast as you can, then it will also help you boost agility and coordination, helping you run faster as well.

Proper Form

Begin by standing as tall as you can with legs straight and arms hanging by your sides.

Next, step to the side by performing quick side shuffles for 10 to 15 meters to the right.

On the last shuffle, land on your right foot, pause for a moment, then shuffle back to starting position.

Make sure to raise your knees as high as you can.

3. Side to side leg swings

Benefits

This is one of my favorite warm-up moves because the swings focus on the hip joints and hamstrings.

Loose hips and hammies are vital if you are serious about running efficiently and pain-free.

Proper Form

Start by holding onto a sturdy chair, or a wall, then swing your right leg to your side and then back and across your torso (see the video).

Perform the move 12 to 16 times on each side.

4. Lateral Lunge

Benefits

This move engages the glutes and adductor muscles and fires up the cardiovascular system.

Proper Form

Assume an athletic position with back straight, feet hip-width apart.

Next, step to your right side, then shift your weight toward your right foot, bending your right knee and pushing your hips back to lower into a lunge.

For more, reach out with your left hand and tap your right foot.

To come out of this, extend your hips and push off with your right foot and return to starting position, then switch sides.

Do 12 reps on each side.

5. Walking Lunges

Benefits

This move is vital for warming up most of your running muscles as well as increasing core body temperature.

In addition, walking lunges can also increase your range of motion in your lower body.

They are also necessary for improving balance and coordination.

Proper Form

Stand upright with your feet together, then step forward with your right foot, taking a long stride and lowering your left leg towards the ground.

Make sure to keep your right knee over your ankles, toes pointing straight ahead.

Do this in a slow and flowing motion.

Next, push off with your left foot, raise up and bring it forward to your right foot, then step forward with your left foot to complete one rep.

Complete two sets of 12 lunges on each side.

6. Butt Kicks

This is a key move for warming your leg muscles in a running-specific way. Not only that, doing butt kicks on a regular basis also help you improve your running form and stride, too.

Proper Form

While keeping your core engaged and back flat, lean forward slightly so your chest is over the toes, then start jogging forward by bringing your heels to touch your hamstrings, in a butt kicking motion.

Make sure to keep your elbows close to your sides and ankles dorsiflexed the entire time.

Keep alternating kicking your butt with your right and left leg for at least one minute.

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Conclusion

Here you have it!

Please perform the above dynamic warm-up before all of your runs and workouts to ensure maximum performance and prevent injury. Your speed of implementation is key here..

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.

David D

1 COMMENT

  1. Start off gently and build as you grow stronger plus much more confident.
    Replace them with fresh fruit, nuts, trail mix, health bars, rice cakes along with other healthy snacks.
    Making a temporary sacrifice won’t permanently solve a problem.

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