The Best Warm-Up You Can Do In 10 Minutes

by Nick Tumminello

Crush Any Workout

The best warm-up will get you physically ready to crush your workout. Get that feeling in under 10 minutes with this pre-workout strategy.

Lifting Hard? Here’s The Best Warm-Up

A warm-up is a transition stage from normal activity to athletic activity. The purpose? To optimize performance. Good warm-ups do more than just boost your body temperature. The best warm-up sequences improve overall joint mobility, coordination, and athleticism.

They also increase variety in your workouts, which helps you develop a more well-rounded body – one that’s not just stronger and better looking but also more mobile and athletic. The typical treadmill jog can’t do that.

Try these two general warm-up sequences.

Three Components of a Warm-Up

The following sequences involve three components:

  1. Activation Exercises
  2. Mobility Exercises
  3. Potentiation Exercises

You do them in that order because it makes sense to do activation before mobility to improve your neuromuscular control or “joint stability” as you move through the range of motion.

It also makes sense to do the potentiation exercises as the final piece of your warm-up to prime the nervous system for what you’re about to do. We’ll take a deeper dive in the tabs below.

You can do both warm-up protocols pretty much anywhere because they require little space and only one piece of equipment: an NT Loop Mini (Buy at Amazon) or regular mini band.

You should complete these in ten minutes or less once you become proficient, but they may take a bit longer at first as you learn how to perform them.

Remember, this is a warm-up, not a workout. So don’t do so much that you feel tired afterward. You should feel more loose and ready to go!

The Lower Body Warm-Up

Instructions

Perform the exercises back-to-back with no rest:

Activation

  • Mini Band Box Walk: 1 set x 3-4 steps laterally and 6-8 steps linearly for 4 laps.
  • Mini Band Hip Internal Rotation: 1 set x 15 reps
  • Mini Band Reciprocal Hip Bridge: 1 set x 20 reps each side

Mobility

  • Dynamic Pigeon Stretch: 1 set x 5 each side
  • Hip Roll: 1 set x 10 each side
  • Reach Through with Lateral Zombie Squat: 1 set x 5 each side
  • Reverse Lunge with Reach: 1 set x 5 each side

Potentiation

  • Prisoner Squat Jump: 1-2 sets x 5 reps

The Upper-Body Warm-Up

Instructions

Perform the exercises back-to-back with no rest:

Activation

  • Mini Band No-Money: 1 set x 15 reps
  • Mini Band 90/90 External Rotation: 1 set x 15 reps each side
  • Thoracic Rotation – Back Scratch: 1 set x 5 reps each side
  • T-Roll Push-up: 1 set x 8 reps each side

Mobility

  • Arm Cross-Over Stretch: 1 set x 8 reps each side
  • Arm Circle with Leg Drive: 1 set x 10 reps each direction (clockwise and counter-clockwise)

Potentiation

  • Seal Jack: 1-2 sets x 20 reps

Total Body Warm-Up

For total-body workouts, simply blend exercises from the two above and do the following exercises back-to-back:

Instructions

Activation

  • Mini Band No Money: 1 set x 15 reps
  • Mini Band Box Walk: 1 set x 3-4 steps laterally and 6-8 steps linearly for 4 laps.
  • Mini Band Reciprocal Hip Bridge: 1 set x 20 reps each side
  • Quadruped Thoracic Rotation – Back Pat or Back Scratch: 1 set x 5 reps each side

Mobility

  • Dynamic Pigeon: 1 set x 5 each side
  • Hip Roll: 1 set x 10 each side
  • Lunge with Reach: 1 set x 5 each side
  • Arm Circle with Leg Drive: 1 set x 10 reps each direction (clockwise and counter-clockwise)

Potentiation

  • Seal Jack: 1 set x 20 reps
  • Prisoner Squat Jump: 1 sets x 5 reps

The Ramp Method

What you see here is a version of the RAMP warm-up developed by Ian Jeffreys (1). RAMP stands for raise (body temp), activate, mobilize, and potentiate.

For lifters, I’ve simply eliminated the “raise body temperature” portion because it’s not really needed. Your body temp rises automatically rises while doing the activation, mobility, and potentiation exercises. You get the same benefits while saving time.

Generally, spending more than 10 minutes on a warm-up is probably too long because it takes away from your workout time. And it’s supposed to help your workout, not hinder it.

Want to take a deeper dive? Here’s a quick overview of the three warm-up components and why to do them.

Deep Dive: Why Activation?

Activation exercises promote the recruitment of key musculature, such as the glutes and rotator cuff, which might improve both the kinematics of movement and the ultimate performance outcome.

However, researchers have investigated the effect of gluteal activation exercises on athletic performance (2-6). The results have been equivocal, with some studies reporting modest increases in performance outcomes regarding things like height jumped and power output. Others found no difference.

That said, other research found that glute activation warm-ups can change the relative muscular involvement, creating greater external rotation of the hip and keeping the knees closer to a neutral alignment. (7)

This lines up with the idea that doing some lower-level strength training exercises for the glutes prior to a workout can facilitate recruitment so that a smaller neural drive may evoke greater force production during movement. This affirms most of my athletes over the years who say they feel “better” and “more ready” after performing the hip and shoulder activation exercises.

Deep Dive: Why Mobility?

Mobility is your ability to move your body freely and easily. It’s related to flexibility because some mobility exercises give you a great stretch. However, mobility is focused on how much controlled range your joints have.

These warm-up sequences include mobility exercises that help you maintain and increase your overall joint mobility, which can improve joint health. As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

The mobility exercises above complement your training for size, strength, and power because they require your joints to move into their end range of motion. In comparison, smart strength training involves avoiding end-range joint actions to maximize safety in handling heavy loads.

Many people find that these mobility exercises also help them squat deeper, deadlift with a straighter back, and perform lifts with more comfort and less restriction.

Deep Dive: Why Potentiation?

This involves some power, speed, and agility training when you’re most fresh at the beginning of the workout. This adds a great training benefit by improving athleticism. Also, the intensity helps you perform your lifts closer to your maximal levels. (1)

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References

References

  1. Jeffreys I. Warm up revisited – the “ramp” method of optimizing performance preparation. Professional Strength and Conditioning. 2007;6:12–18.
  2. Crow JF et al. Low load exercises targeting the gluteal muscle group acutely enhance explosive power output in elite athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Feb;26(2):438-42. PubMed.
  3. Comyns T et al. **Effects of a low-load gluteal warm-up on explosive jump performance.**J Hum Kinet. 2015 Jun 27;46:177–187. PMC.
  4. Barry L et al. Performance effects of repetition specific gluteal activation protocols on acceleration in male rugby union players. J Hum Kinet. 2016 Dec 1;54:33–42. PMC.
  5. Healy R et al. The effects of a unilateral gluteal activation protocol on single leg drop jump performance. Sports Biomech. 2014 Mar;13(1):33-46. PubMed.
  6. Cochrane DJ et al. **Does short-term gluteal activation enhance muscle performance?**Res Sports Med. 2017 Apr-Jun;25(2):156-165. PubMed.
  7. Parr M et al. **Effect of a gluteal activation warm-up on explosive exercise performance.**BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017;3(1):e000245.

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6 Likes

I appreciate the video but I think most of this type of stuff is making it too complicated. I do 3 - 5 minutes on a bike or treadmill at a very slow speed to get the blood moving.
Before I squat - I do 3 - 5 warmup sets with sub maximal load, increasing weight each set while decreasing reps. Always start with the empty bar. (ie BarX5 reps, 95x3 reps, 185x1rep 225x1 rep → Begin works sets).
Before I bench - I do 3 - 5 warmup sets with sub maximal load, increasing weight each set while decreasing reps. Always start with the empty bar.
Before I deadlift - I do 3 - 5 warmup sets with sub maximal load, increasing weight each set while decreasing reps. always start with 135 on the bar.
Overhead press - well you get the idea.

TL;DNR - warmup by moving the muscles you will be exercising over the range of motion you will be loading.

6 Likes

I’m the same. I remember reading about the more you warm-up the more you’ll need to be warmed up to perform. Maybe it was Dan John. Something about being able to just do it on demand.

I have a friend who spends 25mins stretching before squatting and still moans about being tight.

Obviously there’s a ton of value in it when applied correctly but i’m more likely to do my stretching and mobility away from my lifting sessions. Might do a few band rows or external rotations before bench but that’s usually only if i’m waiting for someone to finish.

1 Like

If you’re not doing hamstring curls before squatting you’re messing up.

4 Likes

Will give it a try next time.

This seems like a very odd comments care to elaborate?

Popularized by John Meadows:

3 Likes

Never tried or heard this. Seems like something interesting to try. Thank You!

1 Like

Ya’ll do warm-ups?

5 Likes

EXTENSIVE ones.

1 Like

Like Chris and John said, getting the hamstrings moving freely before squatting feels nice. It helps you get loose, warms up your knees and gets your hips tilted right so you don’t blast your lower back squatting.

It’s pretty widely used, even by dudes who aren’t into warm ups.

I hope you dudes like it.

2 Likes

Nick’s stuff up top is cool too. I like how you don’t need a bunch of equipment. And the good cues for the all the movements.

And just how smooth the whole thing is. Doing a band Box Walk instead of the usual lateral shuffles?! Why didn’t I think of that?

2 Likes

I think it was Dan John who said the warm up is the work out……as an ageing lifter I’ve found just making the warm up progressively harder as you move through the workout….starting with a sled pull or backwards walk……then mobility then a targeted pump circuit then the main lift has really helped keep me in the gym over the last few years……xxx

1 Like

Not one of the supplied studies on gluteal muscle activation had a suitable control/camparitor group to say warming up the gluteals, specifically, improves performance

Also references 5 and 6 didnt even find an effect supporting gluteal activation

If you want your muscles to work in an exercise, practice the exercise

A quick upper body one. Facepull/Tricep Pushdown/Straight Arm Pulldown. I do this with a mini band for a super quick warm up. I usually throw some No Monies in there too.

I agree that many trainers make warm-ups too long (20mins +) and too complex. Hence why mine is kept short and simple.

That said, you’re taking about warming up specifically for certain lifts, whereas my article is geared towards using warm-up time to improve other physical qualities for health and performance, such as mobility and basic coordination.

That said, here’s a paragraph that I wrote for the intro of this very article, which was edited out of the published version:

“Just as there are general and specific exercises to your sport and goals, there are also general and specific warm-ups. Specific warm-ups serve essentially as “build-up” sets because they are simply lighter, less intense versions of whatever exercises you’re getting ready to perform; they are used to build up gradually to your working intensity. For example, if you’re going to run sprints, you first do some light runs, building up your speed with each round. If you’re going to perform a heavy lift, you first do a few lighter sets of that lift in order to build up to your working weight.”

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I’m glad you’ve found my sequence in this video to be a helpful warm-up for you!

I appreciate the support and share!

5 Likes

You make a great point about the people who “need” to warm-up.

In that, I’m always telling the trainers I teach and the clients I train that instead of looking for more ways to roll and stretch yourself into a near coma, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing in your workouts. This is because you shouldn’t feel like you have to do endless mobility drills, soft tissue work, etc. or some type of a mini-physical therapy session before you workout just to feel semi-normal.

And, following a tough workout, you may be fatigued, but your body overall should feel better at the end of your workout than before you started. That means less joint pain and no feeling like you need to stretch the hell out of something after lifting to find relief.

Strength Training should be the medicine, not what you need to take medicine because of.

That all said, my article isn’t about “needing” to warm up in this regard. It’s about making your workouts more comprehensive by working on imprint physical qualities, such as mobility, that aren’t necessarily best addressed strength training.

For example: The mobility exercises included in the warm-up sequences complement your training for size, strength, and power because they require your joints to move into their end range of motion, whereas smart strength-training involves avoiding end-range joint actions in order to maximize safety in handling heavy loads.

This is important because joints are designed primarily to function in their mid-range of motion, but they also need activity using their full range of motion in order to stay healthy and maintain their current range. As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

I wish you much sucess in your training!

3 Likes

It’s refreshing to see someone who took the time to not only look that the research references, but to read through the studies and evaluate them.

Based on your comment, it seems as though you may have not read what I wrote in the article about the research because I tried to be as intellectually honest as possible.

Here’s what I wrote in the article:

" researchers have investigated the effect of gluteal activation exercises on athletic performance (2-6). The results have been equivocal, with some studies reporting modest increases in performance outcomes regarding things like height jumped and power output. Others found no difference.

That said, other research found that glute activation warm-ups can change the relative muscular involvement, creating greater external rotation of the hip and keeping the knees closer to a neutral alignment. (7)

This lines up with the idea that doing some lower-level strength training exercises for the glutes prior to a workout can facilitate recruitment so that a smaller neural drive may evoke greater force production during movement. This affirms most of my athletes over the years who say they feel “better” and “more ready” after performing the hip and shoulder activation exercises."

So, as much as I respect your detailed evaluation, I think you’re misrepresenting my article because there’s no need to say that some of the studies don’t favor glute activation since I made sure to state this very thing in that article.

In other words, you’re comment is as though I was being dishonest about the evidence, when in fact 1) I was honest about what the totality of the evidence (I know of) says, and 2) I was also clear about my anecdotal evidence from clients and athlete feedback.

I could’ve easily done what many coaches an trainers do, which is cherry pick one study that “I liked best” to please my bias. Or, I could’ve ignored the evidence and simply asserted my anecdotal evidence as if it’s fact. That’s just not how I roll.

I say this because sometimes we get so focused on thinking that being critical makes us more objective, that it blinds us to seeing that I was trying to be as honest in the text of article about the body of research, and made the effort to share all these references for people to judge for themselves instead of me trying to paint a biased view to please my ego.

3 Likes