We stretched our definition of flexibility to include the concept of dynamic flexibility—controlled movement through a joint’s range of motion. This time, we present five movements for dynamic flexibility that will warm you up and prep your body for a workout. The twist? They all feel incredibly good—you’ve never enjoyed your warm-up so much.
Take a look at the movements below. We like to use them in a circuit: Do each exercise for 12-15 reps and move to the next exercise without rest. After the entire circuit, rest for one minute, then repeat the circuit a second time.
- Single-leg glute bridge
Start by lying on your back with your left leg out straight and right knee bent so that your right heel is on the ground.Push your right hip up towards the ceiling as you pull your left knee towards your chest. Complete 6-8 reps on the right leg before switching legs.
- Inchworm walk-outs
Start with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hinge at your hips to lean forward to place your hands on the ground.Walk your hands out as far as you can with a strong torso, then walk your hands back to your feet and stand up.
- High plank with rotation
Start in a push-up position. Pick up your right hand, and rotate your feet, hips and shoulders as you reach for the ceiling. Rotate back to the start position and repeat on with the left hand. Keep alternating sides for 6-8 reps each.
- Reverse lunge with rotation
Start with your feet hip-width apart and arms straight out in front with your hands clasped. Step backwards with your left foot and sink into a lunge. As you lunge, rotate your upper body over your right leg. Keep your spine tall! Rotate back to center and return to standing. Alternate legs for a total of 6-8 reps each.
- Lateral lunge with reach for foot
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Step to your left and sink back into your left hip as you reach for your left foot with your right hand. Push off the ground with your left leg and return to standing. Alternate legs for 6-8 reps each.
DYNAMIC IS AS DYNAMIC DOES
- It Really Does Warm You Up: Muscles moving through a low-intensity range of motion will use energy as they contract. This increases tissue temperature, which makes the muscle more pliable and extensible. Warm, extensible muscles are ready for anything your workout can throw at them.
- It Preps Your Joints: The main areas of mobility in the body are the feet and ankles, hips, thoracic spine (that’s your upper back) and shoulders. Dynamic flexibility prepares the joints to use their full range of motion during the workout.
- It Gets Your Head in the Game: Dynamic stretching increases neuromuscular activity in muscle—that is, the motor units that signal and initiate muscle contractions. Most pro athletes use dynamic flexibility before workouts, practices and games. Take basketball, for instance. Relaxed shooting baskets, lunges, hurdle walks and leg swings all anticipate the movement demands of the sport, and require players to start focusing on what they want to do in the game that follows.
- Your Workout Plan B: On days when you are this close to bailing on your workout, substituting a dynamic flexibility circuit like this is a great choice. It’s fast, it feels good, you can do it anywhere, and it will give you a lift for the rest of your day.