We've all come into leg day feeling tight and/or sore, and the only way to overcome these obstacles and have a great workout and stretch properly prior to weight lifting. In this article I will be covering my favorite lower body warm up, which is extremely effective and is made up of 3 stages: light cardio, static stretching, and dynamic stretching.
Note: In my previous article I covered The Best Upper Body Warmup
Stage 1: Light Cardio
The first part of this warm up is a quick cardio session. The target of this cardio is to get the muscles engaged and warmed up to prevent any injuries while stretching. Stretching while "cold" can be dangerous and can lead to injury. This is easy to understand when considering that muscles behave like rubber bands, and rubber bands are much more likely to break if they are cold. With that being said, aim for 2-5 minutes of any cardio method you prefer (for me it's the stationary bike) and prepare your muscles and joints for stretching.
Stage 2: Static Stretching
After a quick cardio warm-up, it's time to begin stretching. Static stretching is stretching done while the body is at rest, which includes stretches like the Quad Pull and the Butterfly. The aim of the static stretch is to elongate the muscles, which allows for more mobility while lifting as well as a smaller risk of injury. Static stretches can also be done after a workout, which can reduce soreness for the following days. The stretches you do will be personalized to you and your body, but here are the static stretches I utilize before any lower body workout:
- Hamstring stretch (sitting down and touching toes)
- Quad stretch (standing quad pull)
- Groin stretches (butterfly stretch and hip flexor stretch)
- Glute stretch (sitting down hugging knee to chest)
- Calf stretch (heels and toes aligned with a forward lean)
Stage 3: Dynamic Stretching
The third and final stage of the lower body warm up is the dynamic stretching. In contrast with static stretching, dynamic stretching is done while the body is in motion. Examples of dynamic stretches include bodyweight squats, gate swings and bodyweight lunges. The dynamic stretch increases the muscle stretch further than a static stretch by using momentum to increase muscle range of motion. Also, the dynamic stretch is best completed right before the beginning of a workout because it prepares the muscles for an intense workout. Once again, your choice of dynamic stretch will be personalized to your needs and preferences, but I will include my personal regimen that I use.
- Bodyweight Squats (about 30 seconds)
- Leg swings (forward & back and side-to-side)
- Bodyweight jump lunges with twist(10-15 each leg)
- Each stretch is done twice