A 10-Minute Kettlebell Mobility Warm-Up to Wake Up Your Muscles and Joints

Warming up your muscles before a workout improves mobility and prevents injury.
Image Credit: PeopleImages/iStock/GettyImages

You've heard it a million times before: The warm-up is the most important part of your workout. And unfortunately, it's typically the most neglected.

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"The warm-up gives our muscles a chance to wake up before we challenge them with load," Jamie Nickerson, CPT, a Boston-based personal trainer, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "Pushing blood flow to your muscles before your workout allows them to work more efficiently when they are loaded."

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Warm-ups are also vital to your muscles' mobility. Have you ever sat through a flight and your knees didn't want to move when you stood up? That's what happens to our joints when there's been little blood flow to our muscles — we get tight and stiff.

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Getting our muscles ready for movement inherently means getting our joints ready. Better flexibility and range provides many benefits to our bodies, including injury prevention, better explosive performance and limited joint pain, according to the Mayo Clinic.

So, how do we train our mobility and warm-up at the same time? Luckily, all you really need is a single weight. Adding load to your mobility routine allows gravity to help push you deeper into your stretch. If all you have is a single kettlebell lying around, you're in good shape to get through a proper mobility warm-up.

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"The benefit of kettlebells is you really only need one, and you can do so much with it," Nickerson says. Having a light, 5- to 10-pound kettlebell is all you really need to add in a little oomph to your mobility routine.

So, try out this quick 10-minute total-body mobility circuit with a light kettlebell before your next workout.

Warning

It's important to remember that with all these moves, never push into a painful zone. If anything feels like it hurts, talk to your doctor about it immediately. “A good warm-up can set you up for success, and a bad one can cause injury,” Nickerson says.

How to Do the Workout

Perform two sets of each exercise for 45 seconds each, resting 15 seconds in between each exercise. Alternate sides where needed.

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Things You'll Need

  • A light kettlebell

  • An exercise mat is optional but recommended

1. Shoulder Halo

This is a great move to warm up the muscles surrounding your shoulders and neck, while also activating your core a bit. Your shoulder joints get to move in all directions with this one, making it a great way to warm-up for every shoulder lift.

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Sets 2
Time 45 Sec
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell at chest level with both hands at either side of the horn.
  2. Engaging your core, lift the kettlebell and slowly circle it around your head in a clockwise motion until you return to the starting position.
  3. Repeat the movement in the opposite direction. That's one rep.
  4. Continue alternating sides for a total of 45 seconds.

2. Deep Squat Hold

Deep squat holds are great for opening up your ankles and your hips. When you add in a light weight, you can get even deeper.

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Sets 2
Time 45 Sec
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. (If the position feels uncomfortable, move your feet in a little closer). Hold a kettlebell with both hands on either side of the horn, keeping the weight at chest height and tucking the elbows into ribs.
  2. Keeping your back straight, push your hips back and bend your knees out over your toes to squat down. Thinking about sliding down a wall, keeping your back as straight as possible and avoiding leaning forward or sticking your butt out.
  3. Lower as deep into the squat as you can.
  4. Prop your elbows onto your knees.
  5. Shift your weight left and right, pushing your ankles to extend a little further each time, creating that greater range of motion.
  6. Hold the stretch for 2 to 3 seconds before alternating sides.
  7. Continue alternating sides for a total of 45 seconds.

3. Lateral Lunge

These are a great way to open up your hips and get a good stretch through your groin and hamstrings.

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Sets 2
Time 45 Sec
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. (If the position feels uncomfortable, move your feet in a little closer). Hold a kettlebell with both hands on either side of the horn, keeping the weight at chest height and tucking the elbows into ribs.
  2. Sink your hips down and back, leaning into your right glute. Straighten your left leg as much as possible.
  3. Keep your back flat as you shift the weight from one leg to the other, holding the lunge position for 2 to 3 seconds in between.
  4. Continue alternating sides for a total of 45 seconds.

4. Half Moon

Without core and back engagement, your lifts become dangerous. This dynamic stretch will wake up your abs and lats, ensuring your center is activated and ready for whatever load you're adding to other muscles.

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Sets 2
Time 45 Sec
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding the kettlebell by its horn in your right hand at your side.
  2. Bend over to your right side as deep as possible and extend your left arm up, reaching across, up and over your head. You should feel a stretch on the left side of your torso through your obliques and lats.
  3. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, then switch sides.
  4. Continue alternating sides for a total of 45 seconds.

5. Half-Kneeling Windmill

Combining a little bit of everything, this move prepares your whole body for movement.

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Sets 2
Time 45 Sec
  1. Begin in a half-kneeling position with your right leg in front of you, bent at 90 degrees, foot planted on the ground. Kneel on your left knee.
  2. Hold the kettlebell at shoulder height in your right hand in a front rack position, letting the bell rest on your shoulder.
  3. On an exhale, press the kettlebell over your shoulder.
  4. Look up at the weight. Keep looking up for the rest of the exercise.
  5. Push your hips back and bend through your left side to place your left hand on the ground.
  6. Slowly sink deeper into the position. Try to get your left elbow to touch the floor. If that feels like too much of a stretch, just go where it's comfortable.
  7. Hold the position for 2 to 3 seconds before releasing and alternating sides.
  8. Continue alternating sides for a total of 45 seconds.

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