I am not a morning person.

Unlike my wife, who I jokingly refer to as T-1000 because she jumps out of bed like an invincible machine at 5:30 a.m. and hightails it to the gym, I need a little more time to, shall we say, "hatch" in the morning.

Give me a choice, and my training window is anywhere from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is when I feel less like a zombie, and more prepared to lift heavy things. A few weeks ago, however, when my wife and I were on vacation in her hometown in Florida, I was in my worst nightmare. No, not talking about our feelings. Worse. Training before 8 a.m.

To be clear, I'm not so obsessed with lifting that I have to do it on my vacation in order to stay sane or justify a single piece of carrot cake. But I do enjoy lifting. And the gym was good enough—it had a rack and a barbell, at least. And I planned on eating far more than one piece of carrot cake.

So there I was, facing heavy front squats, followed by speed deadlifts, and it was I'm-going-to-shit-my-spleen o'clock (i.e., early). I needed a good warm-up, and I needed it fast, because there wasn't time for dicking around.

Do It Right, Do It Fast, Then Do Something Else

To be candid on another front, I am also not a fan of long, drawn-out warm-ups. I think they're important, and I do them, but I hate when I see a laundry list of ankle mobilizations this and hip flexor mobilizations that.

I prefer warm-ups that are short—the point is to prepare you for the stuff you want to do, right?—and that collectively utilize a handful of drills that target a number of areas at once.

As it happened, that morning was the perfect opportunity to "riff" my warm-up, and I cooked up a series that I've been recommending ever since to clients needing to

1. prepare for hard lower-body training like squats and deadlifts; and

2. get the heck out of there.

The next time you're short for time, give this warm-up a try. One time through this circuit is fine if you're in a pinch, two times through would be superb, and three is a great 10-minute hip mobility circuit any time you need it.

1. Single-Leg Glute Bridge Off Foam Roller

Traditional single-leg bridges are great, but adding the foam roller underneath provides an extra challenge in that you have to fight to prevent the roller from rolling away.

The key here is to go slow, push through the heels, and still make sure you feel your glute fire at the top of each rep. Your hamstrings will let you know their feelings right away, as well.

The dose: 8-10 reps per leg

2. Side Plank Hip Clam Shell

Lying on your side with your knees bent 90 degrees and your forearm resting on the floor, push the bottom knee into the ground while you push the top knee away toward the ceiling.

This way you're training hip abduction on both legs simultaneously, and really getting those glutes a juicy pump. To make it more challenging, you can add a band around your knees, but most people will find it hard enough without one.

The dose: 8-10 reps per leg

3. Side-to-Side Hip Switches

Start on your "sit bones," with your chest up and both fists clenched for added tension. Rotate both knees in the same direction, aiming to get as close to the floor as possible without compensating through your lower back.

It is not—repeat, not—a big deal if you can't get your knees to the floor. Just use what range of motion you have access to. It'll get better over time.

A crucial thing to remember here is to maintain core tension—squeezing your fists helps—and get the motion from your hips, not your core.

What makes this drill so unique is that it works both hip internal and external rotation simultaneously. It's a keeper.

The dose: 8-10 reps per direction

4. Seated 90/90 Torso Lean

This drill feels so good on the hips.

Start from a 90/90 stance, with each knee bent to a right angle. You may need to finagle yourself to find a position that's comfortable, but the idea is to have as upright of a torso as possible. The less leaning the better.

For some people, propping a towel or something similar underneath the front butt cheek may help alleviate an awkward positioning or knee discomfort. Don't be afraid to use one!

From there, hug a light plate (10-25 pounds), or any other not-super-heavy object, to create more tension in your core. Then, think about leaning over your front knee while maintaining an upright torso.

You should feel a nice stretch in the front hip, and when you get up, you should feel mobilized and ready for action.

The dose: 8-10 reps per direction

Want to lift big and be pain free while you do it? Learn the right way to warm up for your most important upper-body and lower-body sessions in Unstoppable: The Ultimate Guide to Training Through Injury, hosted by John Rusin, DPT, only in Bodybuilding.com BodyFit Elite.

About the Author

Tony Gentilcore

Tony Gentilcore

Tony Gentilcore is a strength and conditioning specialist through the NSCA and is the co-founder/co-owner of Cressey Performance.

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