The importance of warming up with some dynamic stretching before a workout can't be overstated. It doesn't just help you avoid injury — warm muscles actually perform better too. Try doing these mobility exercises in circuits for about 5 minutes before the start of your workout to keep yourself supple and hedge against injury (check out the links for a video demonstration):
1. Neck Stretches
You might not intend to target your neck specifically during your workout, but you'd be surprised at just how much strain this often-overlooked muscle group is put under during training. Hit it with some stretches just to be safe.
Do some flexion and extension (look up/down and tilt to the left/right) as well as rotation (look to your left/right) to hit all the necessary muscles. And remember, this is dynamic stretching so gently rock back and forth to loosen things up rather than holding each position.
2. Arm Swings
This is one of those catch-all mobility exercises that opens up a whole bunch of muscles in the upper body while helping to get the blood flowing. Simply stand up straight and swing your outstretched arms in ever-widening circles for a number of rotations, then reverse direction and repeat.
You can add some cross-body swings to get an additional stretch on your biceps and triceps if you like. Bring your arms across your chest such that both hands are reaching for the opposite shoulder, swing them out until your body makes a T-shape, then repeat.
3. Air Squats
The squat is one of those classic movements that just seems to hit everything you need it to. In this case, we're using air (or bodyweight) squats to open up the hips and knees while activating the quads, glutes and core — all in one go!
Standing with your legs about shoulder-width apart, squat down until your hips descend below your knees, keeping your back straight and knees aligned over your feet. Now push with your heels and stand back up again. If you're just starting out, have a personal trainer check your form.
4. Downward Dog Leg Lift
Continuing with the lower body, the downward dog leg lift is a variation of a yoga pose that will gently stretch your hamstrings and calves while opening up your lower back and core. It's not the most intuitive of all the mobility exercises listed here, so check out the video or have a professional show you how it's done properly.
Starting from a downward dog position (basically an upside-down V), lift one leg up and back until it forms a straight line with your spine. Now bring it forward until your knee is tucked into your chest. Perform a few reps of this, then repeat with the other leg.
5. Spiderman with Rotation
This is a compound stretch that hits multiple muscle groups in one movement, so it's the perfect way to end this mobility routine. It will take a little practice if you've never done it before, so again, follow the instructions in this video or have a personal trainer show you how.
Assume the pushup position, then bring your left foot up to the outside of your left hand. From here, rotate your torso and reach upwards with your right hand such that your arms form a straight line from floor to ceiling. Now reverse the movement to return to the starting position and repeat for the other side.
Want to learn more about keeping your body supple and your joints mobile? Request a free consultation here at our Personal Training Studio in Ranelagh and we'll find a programme to suit your needs.