Dynamic warmups are designed to prepare the body for strenuous exercise, sport performance, or other environments where you are moving freely in space. Not only can they help protect against muscle strain, but they can help tune the mind and senses to react to various stimuli inherent to sport. Below, the pieces of an effective dynamic warmup are outlined to help you prep for performance.

  1. General Prep. The first five to ten minutes of your warm-up should consist of simple, dynamic movement, gradually building in complexity. For example, start with a jog or shuffle but progress to skipping variations, shuffling or bounding in different patterns, and so on. These movement skills not only help increase blood flow and raise body temperature but also wake up the mind and build awareness to prepare for complex movements.

  2. Mobility and Joint Prep. Stretching thoroughly is an important component of warming up, especially when the goal is to perform high-velocity, deep-range-of-motion tasks in the subsequent training session. A combination of walking stretches (walking quad stretch, straight leg marches) and integrated movements (elbow to instep with rotation, hip bridge with reach) can be layered on top of your typical static stretches to better prepare for dynamic movement.

  3. Skill Practice and Familiarization. This is where the intensity tends to kick up a bit in the warmup. Specific movements such as short accelerations and changes of direction or plyometrics further build on the complexity of the warm-up to prepare for strain in training or play. It is important to start with the lowest intensity (5-yard acceleration, single-response plyometric) even for just a rep or two before building to improve kinesthetic awareness for more challenging tasks.

  4. Mental Prep and Reaction. The final piece of an adequate warm-up is responding to outside stimuli. This might be a sprint start reacting to a ball drop, changing direction when a color is called out, or random claps to trigger a jump and sprint in a given direction. This is an important component of sport and play, and often overlooked in the preparatory phases of a warmup.

Utilizing the components above can help you optimally prepare for training, whether it’s a sport practice or a pickup game at your gym. Though you may not be the one who wants to run a full-blown warmup before a game of 3v3, your body will thank you for it.