Rather than feeling stiff and uncomfortable at the beginning of your leg workout, add a quick, dynamic warm up to loosen your joints and muscles. Dynamic stretching is just as useful as static stretching, in which you hold a stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. In fact, it's better to do dynamic stretching before your workout because your entire body warms up. These active muscle movements stretch your legs without holding it in the end position. They begin to increase your body's temperature and bring blood flow to the muscles being used.
If you're going to be doing squats, lunges, deadlifts or any other leg exercise that uses a lot of motion at the hips and knees, dynamic stretches will make everything go more smoothly.
Start standing with your feet together. Raise one leg with the knee bent, grab it with both hands, and pull it up high to stretch your butt as you lean forward. Put the leg down to catch yourself and step up with the other foot, raising the knee to grab it. Keep walking forward and alternating legs each step.
From standing, raise your right leg with the knee bent. Grab it with your right hand. Grab the ankle with your left hand and raise it up towards your left shoulder. Lean forward and let that leg go to step on it, then switch legs. Keep alternating legs each step as you walk forwards.
World's Greatest Stretch
Lunge forward with your left leg and drop your right knee almost to the ground. Plant your right hand on the ground in line with your left knee. Reach with your left arm up towards the ceiling and turn your shoulders to the left, following your hand with your eyes. Return back to center and step up your right foot in line with your left. Repeat on the right side and continue to lunge forward, alternating sides each rep.
From a push-up position, slowly walk your feet towards your toes. Keep your knees and elbows straight, and your back as flat as possible. When you can't walk your feet forward any more, slowly walk your hands forward until you're back in a push-up position.
Walking Toe Touch
Start standing and take a step forward with your right foot. Plant your right heel and get the toes up in the air. Keep your right knee straight and reach down with your left hand to touch your toes. Step forward with your left foot and repeat on that side.
Stand tall and kick one foot towards your butt, bending your knee. As it swings up, grab the front of your shin. Pull your heel in towards your butt and then let go of the leg, stepping forward onto that foot. Then, pull the opposite leg in close to your butt. Switch legs every step.
Face sideways and take a big step to the side. Lean to that side and straighten out the knee of the opposite leg. Stick your butt back, keep your weight on your heels, and keep both feet pointed straight forward. Then, switch sides and lean towards the opposite leg before stepping back up to center. Do at least five steps to the left and five steps to the right.
- ACE Fitness: A New Approach to Warming Up For Your Cardio Workout
- Navy: Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises
- Core Performance: 5 Stretches to Refresh Your Warmup
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Acute Effects of Static, Dynamic, and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching on Muscle Power in Women