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10-Minute Leg Day Warm-Up

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a man in black sportswear and headphones is stretching his leg, smiling, leg day warm-up
Natasha Caleel post Reviewer Natasha Caleel post Reviewer
Verified by Natasha Caleel
MS in Occupational Therapy, BS in Kinesiology, Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Coach

Table of Contents

Din’t know how to begin your leg day workout? Start with this short yet effective leg day warm-up that engages all the leg muscles and prepares your joints for an upcoming routine.

In this article, we will explore a variety of exercises specifically designed to warm up your legs before diving into intense lower-body workouts. 

What Makes a Perfect Leg Day Warm-Up

There are several key elements that help prepare the muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system for the upcoming leg-day workout:

Dynamic Movements

Incorporate dynamic moves that mimic the exercises you’ll be performing during your leg workout. This helps activate the muscles and increase blood flow to the working areas. Examples include leg swings, walking lunges, and bodyweight squats.

Joint Mobility Exercises

Perform exercises that focus on joint mobility to enhance flexibility and range of motion. This can include ankle circles, knee rotations, and hip circles for hip mobility

Gradually Increased Intensity

Start with lighter exercises and gradually increase the intensity to prepare your body for the upcoming workout. This way, you’ll warm up the muscles and prevent strain or injury.

Core Activation

Engaging the core muscles is also crucial for stability and proper form during leg exercises. Incorporate exercises that activate the core, such as planks, bird dogs, or standing oblique twists. 

Stretching and Flexibility

Incorporate dynamic stretches that target the muscles of the legs, including the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Dynamic stretches involve controlled movements that gradually increase the range of motion [1]. Static stretching is not recommended as a warmup if you are aiming to improve power and performance. 

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Benefits of Warming Up Before a Leg Day

Tempted to skip a warm-up before your leg day? Here are the core benefits you’ll get after only a 10-minute warm-up:

  • Increased blood flow. A warm-up elevates your heart rate and increases blood circulation. This enhanced blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, promoting optimal muscle function and performance.
  • Improved joint mobility. By mobilizing the joints in your legs, such as the knees and hips, you can optimize movement patterns during exercises and reduce the risk of strain or injury.
  • Injury prevention. Warming up increases muscle and tendon elasticity, making them less prone to strains or pulls. [2]
  • Decreased Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Engaging in a warm-up can help reduce the severity and duration of DOMS after a leg day workout. [3]

10-Minute Leg Day Warm-Up

Here is a perfect leg day warm-up routine that takes only 10 minutes.

You can do the following exercises in the same order they are listed to ensure a gradual increase in intensity. Perform each exercise for one minute.

#1 Knee Hugs

a man is doing knee hugs_leg day warm up
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lift your right knee towards your chest, using both hands to hug it.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Release and repeat with your left knee.
  • Alternate between knees for a minute.

#2 High Knee March

a man is doing high knee march_leg day warm up
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Begin by lifting your right knee as high as possible while keeping your core engaged.
  • Lower your right leg and repeat the movement with your left knee.
  • Continue to alternate between knees, marching in place with high knees.

#3 Running In Place

a man is doing running in place_leg day warm up
  • Begin jogging in place, landing softly on the balls of your feet.
  • Maintain an upright posture and engage your core throughout the movement.
  • Maintain a comfortable pace; speed up if it feels comfortable.

#4 Shuffle In Place

a man is doing shuffle in place_leg day warm up
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Shuffle to the right by crossing your right foot in front of your left foot and then stepping your left foot to the side.
  • Repeat this side-to-side shuffle motion, moving quickly and staying light on your feet.

#5 Dynamic Hamstring Stretch

a man is doing dynamic hamstring stretch_leg day warm up
  • Begin by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Extend the right foot straight in front of you.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, reaching your hands toward your toes.
  • Engage your core and feel the stretch in the back of your right leg.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.

#6 Forward Lunge With Rotation

a man is doing Forward lunge with rotation_leg day warm up
  • Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a step forward with your right foot, bending both knees to lower your body into a lunge position.
  • As you lunge forward, rotate your torso to the right,
  • Return to the starting position, push off your right foot, and repeat the lunge with the left leg, rotating your torso to the left this time.

#7 Squat To Calf Raise

a man is doing squat to calf raise_leg day warm up
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Lower your body into a squat by pushing your hips back, and then stand back.
  • Once you’ve reached the top of the squat, perform a calf raise.

#8 Side Split Squat

a man is doing side split squat_leg day warm up
  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing outward.
  • Bend your right knee and lower your body into a squat position. Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the side split squat on the opposite side.

#9 Good Mornings

a man is doing good mornings_leg day warm up
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands behind your head, elbows pointing outward.
  • Engage your core and maintain a slight bend in your knees throughout the movement.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, pushing your glutes back and lowering your torso toward the ground while keeping your back straight.
  • Lower your torso until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then reverse the movement by engaging your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position.

Should You Run or Walk Before Leg Day?

Running or brisk walking is another option for an effective leg day warm-up.

Both activities help increase heart rate, activate multiple muscle groups in the legs, and warm up the joints. A 10-minute brisk walking or a steady-paced running session is generally enough to warm up for a leg day session.

However, we still recommend incorporating the moves that mimic the exercises you’ll perform in a workout. Adding a set of bodyweight squats, lunges, and good mornings will elevate your warm-up and prepare your lower body for a challenging workout.

Wrapping Up

A well-executed warm-up is crucial for maximizing the benefits of a leg day workout.  A perfect leg day warm-up should include dynamic movements, joint mobility exercises, core activation exercises, and cardiovascular warm-ups. You can also incorporate running or brisk walking as a warm-up routine; however, it’s best to combine them with warm-up moves like squats and lunges to ensure your lower body is fully prepared for a workout.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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