How to Warm Up For Leg Day in 3 Steps
If you target different muscle groups throughout the week, you might find that leg day is the biggest struggle. Because exercising your legs involves other muscles, you can easily find yourself in the midst of a full-body workout.
Unfortunately, leg day is even more challenging if you skip the warm up period. In fact, when you skip out on the different types of warm up exercises, you also risk getting injured if your muscles aren’t adequately prepared for your routine. Plus, muscle recovery takes much longer. What’s more, there are many benefits of warming up before exercise.
Unsure of how to properly warm up for a leg workout? Keep reading this guide to find the best warm-ups for your legs and hips before you use your set up your foldable squat rack.
#1 Hip Rotations
Your warm-up routine should include aerobic exercises that gradually raise your heart rate while stretching the different muscles in your legs.
Hip rotations are a dynamic stretching exercise that increases flexibility and strengthens your core, hamstrings, and glutes. It also helps with lower back pain by relieving tight hips.
To complete your rotations, find something to help you balance (whether that’s a wall, a free-standing foam roller, or another piece of fitness equipment). Then:
- Stand tall and lift your right knee until it is parallel to the floor.
- Pull the knee out to the side, opening your hips.
- Return that knee to the start position. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
- Repeat with the left leg.
Why Stretch Strategy Matters
Stretching can be beneficial before a leg workout—but only if you’re doing the right kind of movement.1 We noted that hip rotations are a dynamic stretch—meaning that you stay in motion rather than holding a static position. When you're warming up for an intense cardio workout, dynamic stretching raises your body temperature and eases the body into more intensive exercises.
While static stretching is important, it’s usually a good idea to keep moving while you warm up your hips and legs.
#2 Walking Lunges
The best warm up for leg day recruits several muscles to help raise your temperature.
Walking lunges are a simple movement exercise that can include weights for an added challenge.
To do a standard walking lunge:
- Begin with a straight back and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your hands on your hip or leave them on your side.
- Take a step forward, placing weight on the heel of the front foot.
- Bend your front knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Pause for a moment.
- Return to standing.
- Then, bring your other leg forward to repeat the above steps and complete the rep.
- Do 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Walking lunges tighten the core, which can help improve your balance and stability. With each step, you are also stretching and strengthening your hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and calves.
Develop Your Glutes
Your glutes affect the way you walk and carry yourself. A proper leg day warm-up begins activating these important muscles.
- Reduce back and neck pain
- Assist with your pelvic, hip, and trunk motions
- Prevent muscle imbalance that can restrict your mobility
- Increase power and performance
Use your warmup routine as an opportunity to target these key muscles to improve your leg exercise. If developing strong glutes is one of your long term fitness goals, you can integrate the GHD machine into your strength training as it is the perfect tool to build overall strength in the posterior chain.
Squats are a classic lower-body warmup exercise because, when done properly, they can strengthen your legs and glutes.
How should you squat? With your core and lower back working in tangent, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your quads are parallel to the floor. Then, pause and then raise yourself back up.
Squats seem easy enough, but it's important that you have the right form:
- Don't bend at the knees. Instead, move as if you're sitting back and let the weight shift to your heels.
- Your knees should shift outwards a bit instead of collapsing inwards. They should always stay aligned with your toes.
- Keep your eyes straight ahead with relaxed shoulders. To stop from rounding your back, keep your hands in front of you and your chest up.
For more of a challenge, add dumbbells or a durable 45 lb bar to your squat. This can add a bit more tension and improve the strength of your hamstrings, core, and glutes.
Easing into Squats
While seemingly simple, squats can be demanding. So, if you’d like a warm-up for your warm-up, ease into them.
Try warming up with another leg exercise that will stretch your glutes and hamstrings. Once your muscles are warmed up from other quick exercises, it will be easier to maintain proper squat form.
Now that you know how to warm up for leg day, it’s time to learn how to master your chest day warm up, followed by a beneficial recovery routine. Check out our new blogs and learn the answers to questions like: WHAT HELPS MUSCLE RECOVERY? and why is cooling down after exercise important?
Do Leg Day Right with Tru Grit Fitness
Now that you know how to warm up for leg day, you’re prepared to start achieving your personal best in every workout.
At Tru Grit Fitness, we understand that quality, durable fitness equipment makes it that much easier to achieve your fitness goals. That’s why everything from our foldable power weight rack to our rubber hex dumbbells is built to last. Don't go another leg day without the proper support and equipment you deserve.
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BU Today. Stretch Before Exercise? Not So Fast. https://www.bu.edu/articles/2015/stretch-before-exercise-not-so-fast/
Methodist Health System. 3 Reasons Strong Glutes are Important. https://bestcare.org/news/3-reasons-strong-glutes-are-important