If you’ve ever tried to run right when you got up in the morning or set out to do some squats immediately after sitting all day, you know how stiff your body can get from staying in a static position. Instead of stepping right into a sweat session, you want to get your body loose and your muscles ready to move via an active warm-up. And we have the perfect combination of moves. These seven effective mobility exercises prep your joints for more intense tasks, like jumping high or getting low. They’ll also counterbalance the posture you probably have at your desk all day (aka a rounded spine and shortened hip flexors). Practice them pre-workout and see just how much easier your body handles the tough stuff.
7 Mobility Exercises for the Perfect Pre-Workout Warm-Up
Perform each of these mobility exercises for 45 to 60 seconds each, or for at least five reps. You’ll work to get more range of motion in your shoulders, wrists, hips and legs so you can push yourself the max — while maintaining good form.
1. Arm Swing and Squat
How to: Standing with feet hip-width apart, start with your hands down in front of you, arms straight (a). Squat down and swing your arms in a big circle counterclockwise (b). Swing your arms in another big counterclockwise circle, this time driving through your hips to pivot on your right foot and turning your hips to the right, arms extended overhead (c). Reverse the circle and repeat in the other direction (d). Continue switching back and forth.
2. Sumo Squat and Wrist Circles
How to: Stand with feet wider than hip-distance apart and lower down into a sumo squat (a). With your palms facing upward, bend your elbows 90 degrees, keeping them resting against your ribs (b). Circle your wrists inward, bring your pinkies in, knuckles down and thumbs out to the side. Keep your forearms steady (c). Repeat, then reverse the direction of the circle.
3. Single Arm Back Extension
How to: Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Make fists, bend your arms and hold your elbows at a 90-degree bend at your chest (a). Push your right arm up and back as you arch your spine and lean backward. Squeeze your glutes as you go (b). Use your abs to bring yourself back up to stand (c). Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.
4. Lateral Lunge and Rotation
How to: Start standing with feet wider than your hips (a). Bend your right knee and sit your hips back into a squat-like position so you hit a lateral lunge on your right side. At the same time, bring your left hand to your right foot and your right arm straight up to the ceiling. Open your chest to rotate to the right side (b). Stand back up tall at the starting position (c). Repeat on the other side and continue alternating. Make sure your toes and knees point forward throughout the entire exercise.
5. Squat and Hamstring Stretch
How to: Stand with feet a little wider than your hips, toes pointed slightly outward (a). Drop down into a deep squat, bringing your hands to your ankles. Your feet should be wide enough that you can keep both planted on the ground (b). Still holding on to your ankles, straighten your knees as much as you can as you bend forward at the waist. Let your head hang here, shaking it yes and no (c). Squat back down, bringing your chest up (d). Continue alternating between the squat and forward fold.
6. Hip Hinge
How to: With feet about hip-width apart, step one foot a few inches in front of the other. Place your hands behind your head (a). Lean forward at the hips, pushing your butt back and keeping your back flat. Abs should be engaged (b). Keep your back flat and shoulders relaxed as you use your glutes and hamstrings to stand back up straight (c). Repeat, then switch your stance.
7. Knee Circles and Figure 4
How to: Start standing, feet about hip-width apart. Bring your right knee up toward your chest, taking it in a big circle out to the side, then placing your foot back down on the floor (a). Cross your right ankle over your left knee and sit your hips back to perform the figure 4 stretch (b). Hold for a second, then stand back up (c). Repeat the circle and stretch on the other side and continue alternating.