The 8 Best Warm-Up Exercises for Your Entire Body

These full-body warm-up moves designed by a celebrity trainer will ensure you crush your next training session.

It's tempting to jump right into your workout—you're busy and need to get it done. But building in time for a warm-up is actually super important. It loosens you up so you're less prone to injury, and your body will be able to work harder when it comes to the main event.

But you need to do more than a few jumping jacks or a quick jog. You might think a warm-up just means getting the body sweaty, as opposed to doing moves that get your body primed, turned on, and ready to perform, explained Leyon Azubuike, celebrity trainer (he's trained Jennifer Aniston) and owner of the bi-coastal boutique boxing studio Gloveworx.

Not sure where to start, or what the best warm-up exercises are? Azubuike created this total-body warm-up that will prepare you for whatever workout you have on tap.

Why Warm Up?

A warm-up before any physical activity is important for preventing injuries, even more so if you'll be exerting extra effort or adding weight to your activity. Here's how your warm-up prepares you for your workout:

  • Dilate (open up) your blood vessels. This increases blood flow throughout your body, which will deliver more oxygen to your muscles and increase the temperature of your muscles for better mobility and flexibility.
  • Slowly raise your heart rate and breathing. This lessens the stress on your heart during your workout.

Start your warm-up slowly and gradually pick up the pace. You should warm up your entire body even if your workout will only focus on one area of the body—the idea is to prepare the whole body and prevent injury to any part of the body.

Do at least five to 10 minutes of warm-up; go for 15 minutes if your workout will be very intense. "Before you get into the hard work, your muscles need to be firing and everything needs to be activated," Azubuike told Health.

All you need is a yoga mat for this routine. Do the exercises for the number of repetitions listed.

Half-Kneeling Ankle Rocks

Tom Corbett

This little rocking motion warms up the hip and ankle, getting your body ready to support whatever workout you're about to take on.

  1. Kneel down on your right knee with your left foot on the floor. Your left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle with your left ankle directly under your left knee.
  2. Rest the backs of your hands on the lower back. With your core engaged, drive the left knee forward, bringing it over the left toes.
  3. Pause, and then return to start.
  4. Do 10 reps.
  5. Switch to the other side and repeat.

Quadruped Cat-Cow

Tom Corbett

This is a great move to warm up the whole body. It loosens tension in your lower back and gets the spine, neck, abs, and chest moving and ready for your workout.

  1. Start on all fours with your hands underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips.
  2. Lift your head and tailbone as you drop your belly. Hold for a couple of seconds.
  3. Tuck your tailbone, curl your back up, and round your head into your chest. This is one rep.
  4. Do 15 reps.

Bird Dog

Tom Corbett

The bird dog is another great whole-body warm-up. It moves the abs, shoulders, back, hips, and glutes.

  1. Start on all fours with the hands underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips.
  2. Simultaneously, reach your right hand forward as you extend your left leg back.
  3. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your left hand and right leg.
  4. Do eight reps per side.

High-Low Plank

Tom Corbett

Planks are well-known as a core exercise, but doing one is also a way to warm up. Moving from a high plank to a low plank activates the abs, arms, and chest.

  1. Get into a straight-arm plank with feet hip-width apart and wrists underneath shoulders. Hold for 45 seconds.
  2. Lower left elbow to the ground, followed by the right, coming into a forearm plank. Hold for 30 seconds.

Low Lunge With T-Spine Rotation

Tom Corbett

The low lunge is a hip opener, engaging your quads, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, and glutes. Adding the twist also warms up your abs, chest, and shoulders.

  1. Start in a straight-arm plank with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees and shift the hips back so the knees hover about two inches off the floor.
  3. Step the left foot forward, placing it directly next to the left hand, similar to a low lunge.
  4. Lift your right hand up as you rotate your torso to the right.
  5. Lower back down to the low lunge, and step the left foot back to a plank.
  6. Repeat on the other side by stepping the right foot forward, lifting the left arm, and rotating to the left.
  7. Do six reps per side.

Inchworm

Tom Corbett

Doing the inchworm works almost the whole body, focusing on the abs, chest, shoulders, back, arms, and hamstrings.

  1. Start by standing with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hinge forward at your hips, and place your palms on the ground.
  3. Walk your hands forward to come into a straight-arm plank. Hold for one second.
  4. Walk your hands back in toward your feet, and rise to stand. This is one rep.
  5. Do six reps.

Crab Reach

Tom Corbett

This warm-up opens up the hips, chest, and shoulders. It also works the glutes, back, and arms. To start, position yourself as if you're doing a crab walk.

  1. Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and palms slightly behind your hips.
  2. Lift your butt a couple of inches off the ground.
  3. Simultaneously, raise your hips and lift your left arm up and over your right shoulder, stretching it behind you so that your body forms a straight line from your fingers to your right knee.
  4. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Do eight reps per side.

Fast Feet

inchworm-warmup-health-mag-october-2019
Tom Corbett

Doing fast feet warms up your hips, legs, and feet. It also raises your heart rate, preparing your body to start the main part of your exercise routine.

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, feet parallel, toes slightly turned out, and hands out in front of you.
  2. Lower into a quarter squat, lift your heels, and come onto the balls of your feet.
  3. Run as fast as you can in place for 15 seconds.
  4. Do three rounds.

A Quick Review

Warming up your body is essential for preventing injury and preparing your body for whatever workout you're about to take on. It increases blood flow, which literally warms your muscles and delivers oxygen to the muscles, and slowly increases your heart rate and breathing. Give this simple routine of eight warm-up exercises a try before your next workout.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Heart Association. Warm Up, Cool Down.

  2. American Council on Exercise. 10 Yoga Poses to Alleviate Low Back Pain.

  3. American Council on Exercise. 9 Progressed Yoga Hip Opener Postures.

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