The last blog I wrote for Cocoa Elite centered on when and how to stretch. Since most of you probably stretch before you run and I just told you not to stretch in my previous blog, you are probably wondering why warm up and not stretch? For starters, most people are inactive before they start exercising. You have been sleeping all night, sitting at a desk all day, or Netflix and chilling. The last thing you want to do is get out the door and stretch cold muscles.
We have all had to suffer through the first few minutes or few sets while our body works out the kinks. Often times these minutes are painful and make you wonder why you even exercise. Why is this?
Well, the body has been sedentary and isn’t properly prepared to exercise. You might have known it was time to exercise, but your body didn’t. A proper warm-up prepares the body for the task at hand. The goal of these exercises is to move the body through a range of exercises that primes the muscles for the pending exercise. Scientifically speaking, the warm-up is for increasing the body temperature (heat up those cold muscles) and increasing the motor unit activation of the muscles. The goal is to prime the engine, without overworking the muscles.
Follow this warm-up routine before your run and your body will thank me!
Warm-up routine: all drills should be done for at least 10 yards. As you gain experience, you can increase the distance to 15-20 yards. On days that I’m a little stiffer than normal, I often add distance to each exercise to help loosen up a little more before starting the run. All drills will start from an athletic position (standing tall, shoulders down and back, hips underneath your center of gravity, and feet roughly shoulder-width apart).
- Raise your right knee to your chest, grab your leg just in front of the knee, and pull your knee into your chest. Hold for 1-2 seconds. Let your foot back down to the ground, then bring your right leg back behind you, your heel toward your butt, grab your shin just above the ankle and help pull your heel in toward your butt. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then let your right foot back down to the ground. Take a step forward, and repeat the cycle with the left leg. This exercise helps open the glutes (butt), your quadriceps, and your hip flexors.
- Standing on your left leg, bring your right knee toward your chest again. Instead of driving the knee all the way up, turn your right knee out, allowing your ankle and shin to come up as well. Take your right hand and grab at your knee, and place your left hand just on your shin just above the ankle. Pull up evenly with both hands, up and toward your chest. Hold for 1-2 seconds. Let your right leg back down. Take a step forward and repeat with the left leg. This exercise focuses exclusively on your glutes and hips.
- Standing with feet side by side, drive your right knee up, keeping your toes up, and keep your shin directly underneath your knee (forming a nice 90 degree angle). Once the knee is up and perpendicular to the ground, slowly let it back down toward the ground, swing it back and through without letting it touch, balance solely on your left leg, bend over from the hips, and reach forward with your right arm. Stop leaning forward as soon as you feel some tension in your hamstring. Hold this pose for 1-2 seconds. Remember that the right arm reaches forward as the right leg goes backwards. You are using your body to help stabilize you. Once you feel that tension for 1-2 seconds, squeeze with the hamstring and glutes, pull your body back upright, and bring your right leg back down and back up in front of you. Try not to let your right foot touch the ground on its way back forward. Finish with your right knee in the up position. Let your leg down, take a step forward and repeat. This exercise helps open up the hips and glutes.
- Standing tall, take your right foot and place it in front of your left foot. Bend down and reach for your toes. Hold this for 1-2 seconds. Stand back up, take a step forward and switch, placing your left foot over your right.
- High kicks are done from the hips. Don’t try to keep your leg straight, but instead keep the knee slightly bent. When you swing your right leg up, swing it across your midline and reach for your toe with your left hand. After the right leg, take a step and swing with your left leg. This will help warm up those hamstrings, glutes, and hips.
- Preferably find a line to follow. Facing sideways, shuffle sideways, never crossing your feet. Make sure to stay tall, and move from the hips and glutes; do not twist the hips; instead, move your feet. This helps activate muscles in the lateral plane that are often neglected while running straight. If you want to add in arm circles to the shuffle once you have perfected the leg movement, feel free. Make sure to shuffle in both directions.
- Again facing sideways, move from the hips and move the feet without twisting the hips. Move to the right first. Step out sideways with your right foot. When your right foot lands, cross your left foot over and behind your right foot. Step out with your right foot again, and then cross your left foot over in front of your right foot. Continue this foot crossing pattern, alternating crossing the trailing foot in front and behind the leading foot. Be sure to face the same direction while you travel back so you work both sides evenly.
- Still facing to the side, step out with your right foot, put your weight on your right foot, sit back with your butt like you are reaching the toilet, make sure that your toes are still facing forward and your hips are still square, and sink down onto your right leg. Stand up, turn around, and repeat the same for the left leg. Keep switching legs until you reach the 10-yard distance.
- Facing forward again, stand in your athletic position, and take a large step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your right quad is parallel with the ground. Make sure that your right knee follows your shoelaces. Don’t let your knee go over your toes, in toward your mid-line, or outside. While down in the lunge position, stretch up with both arms and reach toward the sky, take a deep breath, and exhale. While exhaling, stand tall again by squeezing your glutes together, pushing down into the ground through your right foot with your quad. Once back in the starting position, step out with your left foot and repeat the process for 10 yards.
- Skip like you are in elementary school again! Skipping is something that people have forgotten how to do. For those that have forgotten, skipping is a step forward followed by a hop with one foot. Skip forward for 10 yards, and then while still facing forward, take a peak over your shoulder and skip backwards. For added difficulty, add arm circles forward when skipping forward and backwards when skipping backwards.
Grab a sip of water, or for a more energetic workout, try Cocoa Elite’s Elite Endurance, and you are primed and ready for your workout!
Brandon Hudgins is an Elite Track Runner. He became the 448th American to break the 4-minute mile barrier. His passion for the sport of Track and Field overflows and shows in his desire to elevate the sport to new levels. He also strives to raise awareness for the rare auto-immune disease that he suffers from through his association with the Vasculitis Foundation.
Brandon is also a published author. You can buy his latest book here: Going the Distance
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