One possible reason your desired fitness results still elude you: You're starting each workout all wrong.
To reach your fitness goals faster, you need to start every workout with a warm-up like this one.
While many dynamic warm-ups get your heart rate going, routines like this are also designed to reduce tension, improve mobility, and activate lazy muscles—crucial steps to help ramp up your training session. Oh, and it will take only about 10 minutes (woot!).
Here are the simple steps you need in order to fire up properly. Do 10 reps of all exercises listed.
1. Roll With It
Research shows that foam rolling can improve range of motion during a workout as well as reduce soreness afterward. It's a quick and easy way to minimize adhesions and knots in soft tissue, so your muscles and joints can move freely.
Total-Body Foam Roll
Starting with your calves, use a foam roller or lacrosse ball on all your major muscle groups—hamstrings, glutes, quads, IT bands, and shoulders—spending more time on sore or tight areas.
2. Move Your Hips
Women neglect their hip flexors as much as they neglect their budgets during a sale at Sephora. But tight flexors can inhibit proper movement in exercises like squats and lunges and set your body up for injury (one study found that women with runner's knee were more likely to have weaker hip flexors than the uninjured).
Kneel on your right knee with hands behind your head. Squeeze your right glute as you press that hip forward. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Lie on your left side with knees bent. Keep your hips still and lift your right knee. Hold for two seconds, then return to start. Do all reps on that side, then switch sides.
3. Fire Up Those Glutes
All the sitting we do makes our butt muscles sleepy—even during sweat sessions. This move wakes them up so they'll be energized and ready to kick, you know, butt.
Marching Hip Bridge
Lie on your back with knees bent. Lift your hips until your knees and shoulders form a straight line. Alternate lifting your left leg, then your right. Do 10 reps on each side.
4. Engage Your Ankles
Poor buddies, they get very little love. But here's why you should give your ankles a thought: Stiff ones put extra stress on knees and hips when you do anything that requires ankle flexion, like running, jumping, and step-ups (to name a few). And if you're a high-heel lover, you're even more prone to ankle mobility issues.
Standing Ankle Dorsiflexion Stretch
Place both hands on a wall with one foot staggered two to three feet in front of the other, the front foot a few inches away from the wall. Slowly drive your front knee toward the wall, then back to start. Do all reps on that side, then switch legs.
5. Stand Taller
Proper posture allows your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments to work like a well-oiled machine. Ease tightness with the first move below, then engage postural muscles, open your chest, and warm up your shoulders with the second.
Open Half-Kneeling Thoracic Rotation
Kneel on your left knee, right foot flat on the floor in line with your left knee. Place your left hand on the floor directly under your shoulder and raise your right arm; pause, then bring it down between left arm and leg. Return to start. Do all reps, then switch sides.
Stand with your back against a wall and slide the backs of your hands, elbows, and arms up the wall. Slide back down, keeping in contact with the wall.
6. Drop It Low
Body-weight squats won't fully prep muscles for a demanding workout. This sequence turns on everything that needs to work—and ensures proper (read: safe) form during total-body moves.
Reaching Squat to Stand
Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, arms raised overhead. Bend at your waist to grab your toes. Then lower your hips down into a squat position, knees outside your arms. Lift your chest and raise your arms overhead one at a time, then stand.
7. Talk To Yourself
By sending signals from your noggin to your body, these moves can strengthen the communication between brain and brawn.
Stand on your left leg and raise your right arm. Lower your torso and lift your right leg behind you. Return to start. Perform all reps on that side, then switch legs.
8. Take The Lunge
Lunges are overachievers in the best possible way: They're unilateral, so you can't compensate if you have a stronger leg; they train balance and engage the core; and since they're compound movements, they activate more than one joint at a time. The specific types shown here get you moving in multiple directions, a key piece to any warm-up.
Reverse Lunge with Rotation
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your head, step back with your left leg into a lunge and turn your torso to the right. Pause, then return to start. Perform all reps on that side, then switch.
Alternating Lateral Lunge
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, step your right foot out into a side lunge, pause, then drive off the right leg to return to start. Perform all of the reps on that side, then switch legs.
9. Pick Up The Pace
This last step is like a dress rehearsal, putting all the pieces together while pumping up your heart rate so you're ready for anything!
Stand on one foot and imagine there is a line drawn on the floor. Hop quickly back and forth over the line 10 times, then switch feet and repeat.
Start in a squat, with knees bent and hips back; shuffle 10 steps to the right as fast as you can, then 10 steps to the left. Continue alternating.