This isn’t the best warm-up around the web nor the one to rule them all. There is no such thing.1 It is simply my approach to warming up athletically your legs which has evolved over the years I train.
In this post I want to share the tools I collected in my toolbox with you, to safely prepare your legs for oncoming load. It mostly covers hip stability, hip rotation, squats, and deadlifts – quite a bit. Let’s see what it looks like!
Breathing (1 Minute) Before thinking of moving grab yourself a mat, sit down, and breathe. Focus on your body and turn inward. What is it you wanna accomplish today? Any points that need special attention? Sit down for 10-20 breaths like that.
Squat Protocol (1x5r per exercise ):
This brief protocol warms up your squat and lets you spend some time in this position. It is great for doing it randomly within your day, too! If you have trouble performing this routine grab a pole in front of you while doing it. This should help. A light kettlebell* will do the job, too.
9090 Switches (20r) Start in a 9090 Position. From there you switch to the other side by rotating your legs. If that on its own seems too hard, support yourself with your hands behind your back and lean slightly onto them.
Dorsiflexion Rocks (5r +10s hold) Get into a squat. What you do here is place your weight onto one side and push slowly your knee forward. Stay there for a few seconds and repeat for 5 reps holding the last one for a prolonged period of time. When at the maximum of your dorsiflexion try to flex your shin muscles.
Squat to Toe Sit (5r) From a squat lean slowly forward into a toe sit. I highly recommend supporting yourself with your hands, as this movement can be pretty intense. Reverse, go from toe sit into a squat and repeat for 5 reps.
Internal Rotation + External Rotation (5r per side) In a squat start with one side and rotate this leg inwards and outwards. Go as far as you can without leaving the squat, nor forcing the movement too heavily. Repeat for 5 reps and don’t forget the other side.
Thoracic Rotations (5r per side) Next, you try to rotate to one side and get one arm facing upwards to the ceiling, while the other holds onto something in front of you for support or onto your shins. Switch sides and repeat for a total of 5 reps per side.
Squats (10r) Lastly, just perform a few squats on reps. They should feel really smooth and mobile by now. Nice feeling isn’t it?
Glute Bridge (1x15r both-legged + 1x8r single-legged) Glute Bridges are a great exercise to get a feeling for your glutes. I struggled with this a lot. The goal here is to do them slow and controlled and really feel your butt working. The reps are just a rough guideline. You can do them with both legs or single-legged, plus feel free to add a hold of around 10-20s on the last rep of whichever variation you choose.
Single-Leg Stance (1×1 minute per side) Just try to stay stable on one leg. Activate all your muscles needed to do so. Especially your abs, glutes, lateral hip and feet should be working hard
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts (1x10r) Do them just with your own body. No additional weight* needed – although this is a great exercise, too! Al Kavadlo shows you in this video how to do them properly.
After finishing your legs warm-up, they should feel warm and you should be present within your body. Your body should feel limber and ready to bear some load – whatever you might’ve planned for that given day.
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Next up on your to-do-list to call this workout day a DAY, should be 1-2 warm-up sets of the following main exercise. A rule of thumb is that after every general warm-up should follow a specific warm-up:
If squats are on your menu – do some bodyweight squats, or with fewer weight for higher reps to prime the movement.
If deadlifts are up that day – do some single-legged deadlifts with a light kettlebell.
The goal is to prime the muscles and the movement pattern before going heavy. Although all this warming up might sound at first over the top it can really help you to perform better. Especially on the days when you feel a bit out of it a longer warm-up can help. Vice versa it is totally fine to cut it shorter and hit it hard on days you are really motivated and feel limber quickly.
All in all this warm-up shouldn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes after you’ve done it a few times. Tell me how you like it. And definitely check out the YouTube video embedded – it is the second one I’ve ever made and would love to hear some critique, inspiration and ideas!
Have a great training week,
Quite on the contrary – there are many great warm-ups around but I feel that many simply don’t know of them and their importance. I can’t explain otherwise all the guys stretching 30s before trying to max out their bench press.