How well do you warm-up? 

I can tell you without hesitation that a good thorough warm-up is critical for getting stronger, improving athletic performance, and recovering better.

One thing I teach my athletes is that the warm-up is NOT just a bunch of individual exercises or movements – it is a flowing set of continuous movement.  The more you can flow through the exercises, the better preparation and the more comprehensive the ‘unlocking’ of the athlete can become.

Not only that, the warm-up time can be cut down to a fraction of what it normally is, allowing you more time to actually train and improve your workout efficiency.

Let’s look at what I would consider a good flow for preparing the lower body and core. Notice the sequence of the exercises; first we mobilize, then we activate and create stability.

Glute Bridge into Cossacks

Step #1:  Unlocking / Mobilize

Add this with the cossacks (below) and you’ll get one of my favorite one-two punch combos for 3-dimensionally preparing hips for any exercise you can throw at them.  This sequence will dynamically stretch the hip in external rotation with the glute stretch, and then it will attack the ankles, hamstrings, and adductors.

Breathing Squats

Step #2:  Activation / Core Stability

After we open up the hips, we will perform bodyweight squats with a twist.  The squats are going to get the glutes, hamstrings and quads contracting, and we will throw in deep diaphragmatic breathing to help to retrain core stability. This is a perfect combination, because we are gaining multiple benefits, and the complexity of the squats with breathing will keep the athletes hyper-focused on the task at hand.

Remember, spending some extra time designing the warm-up and sequencing the exercises, will pay off in a big way. It will help you get a lot done in a short amount of time and keep you engaged. More focus on full-range, controlled tempo movements, along with retraining your athletes on how to breathe deeper, will make every athlete better.