Dynamic Warmups Make You Stronger, Faster

Stretching is important before a run, but so is a dynamic warmup that consists of exercises like high knees and butt kicks. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

The Dynamic Dozen

Dynamic Dozen

Take these dynamic warmup moves with you for your next run. Add one or all 12 — even a short dynamic warmup is beneficial, even if it only lasts a minute. There aren’t as many rules to a dynamic warmup as you’d expect. Stensland explains that some dynamic warmup is better than none, but “the more time you can do it, the better.”

Heel Walks
Walk forward with your weight on your heels, flexing your feet so the balls of your feet are off the ground. It’ll activate your shin muscles while stretching out your calves. Walk forward for seven seconds and repeat.

Linear Leg Swings
Swing leg forward and backward, switch legs and repeat.

Skipping
Remember skipping from point A to point B when you were a kid? Same thing applies here except your focus changes from fun to running drill. Add some power to basic skipping by driving forward and aiming for a high body with each skip.

A Skips
This is a variation on basic skipping, except it’s your knees reaching high and not so much your body. Drive your arms backward in sync with your skip stride while driving one knee high, with that foot almost directly under your body; continue on opposite side and repeat.

Grapevine
Also known as karaoke, this hip opener requires some fancy footwork until you get the hang of it. Move sideways with your arms out, and cross right over left, right behind left, right over left. Repeat by starting with the left foot first: left over right, left behind right, left over right. Move in one direction for seven seconds, switch directions and repeat.

Arm swings
Forward: Walk forward and swing your arms forward as you would do when swimming freestyle. Let your hips rotate and move your arms fast enough to create momentum.

Backward: Walk forward and swing your arms backward as if you were swimming backstroke. Lead with your pinkie finger and keep your palms facing out when you reach high over your head.

Hip rotations
Start on your side with knees pulled toward your chest and top hip pushed forward a bit. Open your top hip by rotating your knee away from the ground with your feet touching. Repeat on other side.

Butt kicks
Instead of running forward, get into your runner stance with your pelvis neutral. Kick your heel toward your butt by engaging your hamstring to pull up as you jog at an easy pace.

Knee huggers
Using your regular walking gait, step forward with one leg while raising your opposite knee and pulling it toward your shoulder. Stand upright, grab your shin with both hands and pull close to your chest. Repeat motion with your other leg.

High knees
Move forward with a running motion, trying to raise your knees as high as you can. Bobby McGee calls this a facilitation exercise, as it mimics running but with even more motion and intensity.

Hamstring kick-outs aka monster walks
Walk forward and kick out each leg as you take a step. When your leg kicks up, bend your upper body toward it and reach your opposite hand to your extended shin or foot.

Squat jumps
Position yourself with your feet slightly beyond shoulder width, hands behind your head. Lower into the squat position with your knees behind your toes, jump vertically and extend through your hips. Land back in the squat position.

RELATED: Get Stronger With Box Jumps

How to Build Your Own Dynamic Warmup

There aren’t as many rules to a dynamic warmup as you’d expect. You don’t need to include the 12 exercises featured here in every pre-run routine. You don’t need to spend a minute rotating through each move every single time — some days you might spend 10 seconds, others five minutes. It depends on how you feel. Listen to your body and evaluate how much time you can set aside for your warmup and run, Stensland says. Remember, some dynamic warmup is better than none.

What should my warmup look like? Bob Seebohar suggests that a workout consist of four exercises, with two lasting five to 10 minutes each, before running and one minute after. Start off with neuromuscular activation and dynamic exercises, which will give you the benefits of the cardio component (such as light jogging) you’re used to. Then go through your training session. Follow it up with a repeat of the dynamic exercises you started with to improve your flexibility.

How do I choose my dynamic exercises? Seebohar suggests choosing five to eight movements to do before your training session that complement your activity. But change these up from time to time so you don’t miss exercising a muscle group.

How long should I do them? Some dynamic movements can take longer to master than others. Seebohar suggests that you want to feel comfortable performing a move before moving on, whether that’s 20 seconds or 60 seconds. Others, like heel walks, toe walks (like heel walks but on your toes) and grapevine, are prescribed for seven-second intervals.

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