Rev Up Your Run: How to Optimize Your Performance with Effective Warm-Ups

dynamic warm up exercises

Are you ready to take your running to the next level and prevent injury? Look no further because today I’m sharing a dynamic running warm-up routine that will leave you feeling limber and ready to hit the pavement.

Whether you are a seasoned runner or just starting out, warm-up exercises are crucial to your performance and overall health.

Not only will they help prevent injury, but they will also improve your flexibility and mobility.

In fact, research has shown that a proper warm-up can enhance running performance and reduce the risk of injury.

So, let’s dive in and get started on this dynamic warm-up routine that will prepare your muscles and joints for whatever lies ahead.

So what’s a dynamic running warm-up ?

A dynamic warm-up is a series of movements that challenge your stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility all at once. Unlike static stretching, which involves holding a stretch for a prolonged period, dynamic warm-ups involve active movements that mimic the biomechanics of running.

The warm-up consists of two phases: general and specific. The general phase raises your body temperature, heart rate,  and circulation to the muscles. This prepares your body for the more intense specific phase, which activates your nervous system and focuses on the muscles and joints used in running.

Benefits Of Dynamic Running Warm-ups

Picture this: you’re about to start a run, your heart is pounding with excitement, and you’re ready to hit the pavement. But before you start pounding the pavement, it’s important to get your body ready for the run ahead. That’s where dynamic running warm-ups come in!

One of the key benefits of a dynamic running warm-up is that it gets your heart rate up and increases blood flow throughout your body. This helps to prevent premature fatigue and injury by warming up your muscles and increasing circulation to the working muscles. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that dynamic warm-ups can also help to improve running economy, which is the amount of oxygen your body uses while running at a given pace. By increasing running economy, you’ll be able to run farther and faster with less effort.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Dynamic running warm-ups also help to coordinate all of your moving parts. By challenging your stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility all at once, you’ll be able to move more efficiently and with better form. This can help to reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall running performance.

And let’s not forget about the joints. Dynamic running warm-ups can help to open up your joints and get them well lubricated, especially those in your ankles, feet, hips, and spine. This can improve your range of motion and, yet again, reduce the risk of injury.

How to Warm up For Running – Directions & Tips

The length and intensity of your running warm-up depends on a few factors, such as your fitness level, workout intensity, and the temperature outside. But, overall, the more intense the workout, the longer it should take to get warmed up.

Think of your body as a car on a cold winter morning. You wouldn’t just start it up and peel out of the driveway without giving it time to warm up, right? The same goes for your body. By taking the time to warm up properly, you can help prevent injury and premature fatigue while increasing your performance and overall enjoyment.

The Running Warm-up Breakdown

So, what should your warm-up routine look like? I’m glad you asked. Here’s the exact recipe I follow for my own warm-up routine, whether I’m training alone or with a partner.

First, spend five minutes engaging in some light aerobic movement, such as jogging in place or doing jumping jacks. This helps get your heart rate up and your blood flowing.

Next, spend five minutes doing dynamic exercises, which challenge your stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility all at once. These exercises can include lunges, high knees, leg swings, and more.

In total, a good dynamic warm-up should take about 10 minutes. Of course, depending on the workout you have planned, you may need to spend more time warming up. But trust me; it’s worth it—especially before any intense, vigorous running training. So take the time to properly warm up your body and set yourself up for success.

Top 6 Dynamic Running Warm-Up Exercises

Here are six dynamic running warm-up exercises that you can do to get your body ready for your run.

Running Warm-up Exercise – 1. Toy Soldier


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.

Running Warm-up Exercise – 2. Side Step/Shuffle


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.

Additional reading – How to Prevent Overuse Injury

Running Warm-up Exercise – 3. Side to side leg swings


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.

Running Warm-up Exercise – 4. Lateral Lunge


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.

Additional resource –How to warm up for a race

Running Warm-up Exercise – 5. Walking Lunges


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.

Running Warm-up Exercise – 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.

I’d also recommend these agility ladder drills.

Dynamic Warm-up For Runners  – The Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned about the top six dynamic running warm-up exercises, it’s time to put them into action. Remember, your speed of implementation is crucial to your success as a runner. So, lace up your running shoes and give these exercises a try.

And don’t forget to listen to your body! Everyone’s body is different, so adjust the intensity of the warm-up exercises based on your comfort level. You might even come up with your own unique warm-up routine that works best for you.

So, get out there, warm up properly, and crush your running goals! And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

David D, signing off.