Here at GRIT, we’ve got lots of clients with individual goals and movement capabilities. And while some of these folks require a little extra TLC and individualization, a majority of our clients all benefit from the same warmup on a regular basis. Considering most warmups these days consist of a couple haphazard arm circles followed by a few sideways neck cracks, we thought sharing our method could probably benefit a few people.
Aaaaaaand I’m ready to lift!
So steal this, borrow it, use it as a guideline to help create a better warmup for your individual needs… doesn’t matter to us. Assuming you’re a pain free individual with no major movement restrictions, this will be of some use to you. So here it is, laid out with some rationale behind why we do it.
The bird dog is an often overlooked movement because of it’s simplicty, but it packs a punch if done correctly. Not only is it a rotary stability exercise, it also helps reinforce proper glute contraction without compensation from the low back (something that can lead to back issues if left unchecked). As an added bonus, if you push yourself away from the floor with your down arm, you’ll incorporate some work for your serratus anterior, a muscle that plays a vital role in long term shoulder health.
Groiner w/ rotation
This movement has been dubbed ‘the greatest stretch of all time’ by some folks due to the fact that you’re checking off a lot of boxes simultaneously. With a quad and hip flexor stretch on your back leg, a groin stretch on the front leg, and then some rotation for your thoracic spine on top of all that, you’ve got one hell of a stretch. And just like the bird dog, if you push yourself away from the Earth as you rotate up, that serratus gets some love as well.
Modified side plank w/ hip abduction
Here we go again with checking off multiple boxes all at once. The side plank by nature is an anti-lateral flexion exercise, meaning your abs, obliques, and other numerous core muscles need to prevent you from bending sideways (think “I’m a little tea cup”). By holding a modified side plank and throwing in a leg lift, you stimulate the lateral core as well as hip abductors, which are pretty damn important when it comes to hip and knee stability.
An often overlooked exercise, the deadbug is an anti-extension core exercise, meaning you’re fighting to prevent your low back from arching excessively. This requires your abs to brace hard to control your spine and pelvis. Learning how to do this while moving your extremities is a game changer when it comes to moving and feeling like a million bucks.
What’s better than an old fashioned hip bridge? By pressing your arms down into the floor, your abs will reflexively tighten, making this movement that much more efficient. Nothing preps your body for a quality workout like getting those buns fired up!
To most folks, this exercise looks dumb… but it’s far from it. When your feet and toes work hard to grip the ground, it essentially “wakes up” all muscles in the leg north of the foot.
So… all of them?
Bottom line: when your feet muscles work better, your legs do. Don’t believe us? Try squatting without doing leg swings and take note of how it feels. Then perform some swings and squat again. It’s gonna feel different, but in an awesome way.
Single leg RDL to reverse lunge
Now that we’ve warmed up “the individual parts”, it’s time to incorporate everything and perform a more complex movement. The SL RDL is a terrific movement that requires you to provide stability at the knee, with the glutes and hamstrings being the prime mover to finish things. The same could be said of the reverse lunge. The only difference is one movement is hip dominant (more glutes and hamstrings) and the other is knee dominant (more quads). It’s the best of both worlds.
The lateral lunge is no different than the reverse lunge except for the plane of motion. Your hips love moving in multiple planes of motion so including some form of lateral movement is a no brainer in a warmup.
To finish everything, we’ve got the squat. The squat is a fundamental movement pattern and has a tremendous amount of carryover to “real life”. By incorporating this movement into your regularly performed warmup, you ensure the “door hinge never rusts’, meaning the movement pattern stays fluid and efficient. This is a nod to the phrase “a door that is regularly opened and closed will never have rusty hinges”. Same rules apply to your squat pattern.
When all is said and done, this warmup checks off several boxes:
Anti-extension core work
Anti-lateral flexion core work
Thoracic spine mobility
Hip flexor and quad stretch
Glute and hip activation
(Some) shoulder prehab
Single leg movement patterns
Double leg movement patterns
Multiple planes of motion
Is it all encompassing? Not 100%.
Can stuff be added to make it better? Sure.
But for the sake of a simple yet effective warmup that can be done in about 7-10 minutes, this is a pretty good one.