A Better Warmup Routine

Try this simple dynamic routine before speedwork and racing

Posted: 3 March 2005

Warming up before a race or a speedwork session should mean more than just a 10-minute trot. Gentle running will get the blood flowing, but to avoid that heavy-legged sensation in the opening mile of the race, or the first few repetitions of your speedwork, try some dynamic flexibility exercises as part of your workout.

Dynamic exercises help to reduce muscle friction as you run, easing the sluggish feeling that can hit you if you try to push the pace early on. And because you keep moving as you do them, you won't get cold - make time for them in between your warm-up jog and heading to the start line and, as soon as the gun goes, you'll be running comfortably.

Arm Swings

Your upper body should remain relaxed while running. Loosen up by swinging your right arm in a giant circle. Do six forward rotations and six backward rotations. Repeat with your left arm.


Lie on your back with your arms outstretched. Touch your right foot to your left hand. Keep your leg straight. Return to starting position and switch legs. Repeat 10 times.

Leg Swings

With your left hand on a wall, stand on your right foot and swing your left leg backward and forward in an exaggerated kicking motion. Complete 10 swings and repeat with the right leg.

Bicycle Kicks

Sit "upside down" with your weight supported on your shoulders and upper arms. Keeping your legs straight, do 10 large scissor kicks, then do 10 "Y" kicks out to the sides.

Ankle Bounce

Lean forward against a wall with your feet close together and flat on the ground. Raise both heels as high as possible and then "bounce" them off the ground. Repeat 20 times.

Previous article
The Runner's Survival Guide
Next article
9 Ways To Boost Your Energy

stretch, hip, deep stretches, upper-body

Discuss this article

has anyone tried this yet
I still feel the normal warmup is good enough for what i need
Posted: 13/03/2005 at 16:29

We've been doing dynamic warm up for a long time as a group and the feedback has all been positive.
Static stretches relax the muscles; you need to relax at bedtime, to prepare for a speedy session you need to wake up elastic muscles and get joints, muscles and nerves all singing together.
Try it - you'll see and feel the difference - when was the last time you saw a top quality international athlete doing a static warm up?
Save the hold it stretches for afterwards.
Posted: 16/03/2005 at 08:12

sorry but I think I'd have to saw my right leg off before I could touch it to my left hand for the "eagle", I might try it tonight at home but I think my work colleagues would have something to say if I tried it here !!
Posted: 16/03/2005 at 08:52

Hmmmm. Am not myself a big fan of PRE-exercise "stretching" as such (not much research to support any real benefits, and large likelihood of real damage to cold muscles). Advocating pre-exercise stretching can be problematic as some people take it to mean that their warm-up can be limited to just static stretching. But this article does state "speedwork session should mean more than just a 10-minute trot". So long as you're doing a 10-min trot, and THEN the dynamic stretching, I think it's all fine and dandy (although the lower back stretch this article suggests is in fact a static stretch, not a dynamic one....)
Posted: 16/03/2005 at 08:53

On this lower back stretch, you do it one side then smoothly across and do the other and continue - maybe 3 to 5 times each side.
The exercises in this article are a good start point but there are loads more.
Just try it and see.
It works.
Posted: 16/03/2005 at 10:47

Chris - don't get me wrong, I'm all for dynamic stretching. The "eagle", tho,looks remarkably like a static stretch done 10 times. Dynamic stretching tends to focus on the muscle's natural range and direction of motion and warm it up within that range.

Granted if you know what you're doing it's possible to turn many static stretches into dynamic ones. My concern is that this particular stretch is easy to bungle and therefore perhaps not one of the best to be shown in an introductory piece about dynamic stretching. For lower back I would've prefered to see both legs at 90degrees being lowered simultaneously to the side. Of course either is fine, so long as you know what you're doing.
Posted: 16/03/2005 at 10:57

You're quite right.
One thing I'd lke to know, but cannot discover, is when did static stretching warm ups become popular for athletes?
I recollect seeing it in the late '60s I think, but reading about champions in the '50s - no mention at all; who started it?

Posted: 16/03/2005 at 11:40

I'm slightly confused about the ankle bounce because another article I have read about stretching warns against bouncing muscles.
Posted: 28/03/2009 at 00:20

I was always told to avoid bouncing muscles as well.
Posted: 10/06/2009 at 18:06

I've been doing the arm and leg swings for a couple of years.
Posted: 11/06/2009 at 11:23

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.