We’re constantly buzzing about how to get in shape, stay in shape, and make progress. But there’s a big piece to this puzzle that isn’t talked about enough, and it’s probably one of the most important topics when it comes to health and fitness: warming up.

What you do before your workout is arguably the most important step in exercise. It not only prepares your muscles for work, but also gets your mind and cardiovascular system ready as well. Without a warm-up, your performance suffers and you might get injured.

When you’re setting up to go on a run, camp out on the elliptical, ride your bike, or any other cardiovascular activity, the warm up is simply a slower version of what you’re preparing to do. You can start by going at a moderate pace for 5 minutes to get your blood flowing and let your muscles know that work is ahead.

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On the other hand, weight training, plyometrics, or sprint intervals, a more in-depth warm-up is required. These activities require the use of fast-twitch muscle fiber, and you want to make sure your muscles are ready to react without being injured.

Here’s a warm-up I put together that you can do before any activity. Each of these stretches is a dynamic stretch—which means you're active throughout. (Remember, stretch-and-hold moves are better done after your workout.)

Knee Pulls

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift one foot off the ground and hug your knee up and into your body with your hands. Hold for 1 second and then lower your foot back to the ground. Alternate between both legs for a total of 15 reps each.

Foot Pulls

Photo: Jen Cohen

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift one foot off the ground and pull your foot behind you and into your body. Hold for 1 second and then lower your foot back to the ground. Alternate between both legs for a total of 15 reps each.

RELATED: 3 Yoga Stretches to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Glute Opener

Photo: Jen Cohen

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift up one knee and externally rotate that leg so your inner thigh is pointing up. Place your outer ankle on your opposite thigh and sit into it in order to stretch the glutes further. Slowly lower your leg to repeat on the opposite side and alternate for a total of 15 reps each.

Torso Twists

Photo: Jen Cohen

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out on either side of you. Reach with your right arm down to your left toe, while rotating your torso to the left and allowing your left arm to aim straight up towards the sky. Hold for 1 second and repeat on the other side.  Alternate back and forth for a total of 15 reps on each side.

RELATED: 4 Things You Need To Know About Foam Rolling

Arm Circles

Photo: Jen Cohen

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out on either side of you. Move your arms in a circular motion moving forward 15 times. Repeat this with a backwards circular motion for another 15 reps.

Have you ever had trouble figuring out what the best way to stretch is? Check out 5 Stretching Myths That Have Got To Go.

Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra,The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and onPinterest.