5 Exercises to Warm Up Like A Pro

Former Canucks physio, Masumi Turnbull, outlines 5 movement prep exercises to get you ready to go!

These five warm-up exercises are perfect to do before any activity, be it a run, workout, practice or game. They’re also great to do at home with no equipment required, and can even be a quick workout on their own! 

A focused dynamic warm-up is an important component of a pro athlete’s daily routine. It can be the difference between staying healthy or sustaining an injury, and performing well or having an off day.

Whether you’re a competitive athlete or starting a new exercise routine, following these key principles will guide your ideal warm-up or athletic rehab. 

Three Tips from our Sports Physio / Active Rehab / Athletic Therapy Team:

  1. Be activity-specific

    Your warm-up should match the activity you’ll be doing. If your activity demands other specific tasks such as running, cutting, and jumping, those movements should be included after completing a few movement prep exercises. A research study in 2017 found that a dynamic warm-up for soccer players that included hopping and agility drills decreased their risk of ACL knee injuries by 30%!

  2. Be mindful

    Being intentional with your movement is another key to a good warm-up. Try to be aware of how you’re moving and where you’re feeling it. The exercises below focus on optimizing our neuromuscular control (mind-body connection) and movement strategies. A few examples of these strategies are: initiating movement from your centre of mass; creating stiffness at specific joints; and implementing dissociation patterns (moving certain body parts while keeping others still).

  3. Be creative and trust the process!

    There are a wide range of warm-up exercises to choose from. As long as you’re following these key principles, feel free to experiment and add in your own exercises. Try your best with these five movements, as some of them will take practice and challenge your balance. Don’t worry if they don’t feel perfect initially, you’ll get better with time!

Top 5 Warm Up Moves

1. Reverse lunge and thoracic rotation

  • Step backwards with one leg, keeping your spine and shin angle parallel to each other
  • With arms active, rotate your trunk to one side, while keeping your pelvis and hips in the same position
  • Rotate your trunk back to centre, rotate to the other side and back.
  • Step forward and repeat with your other leg
  • Repeat 3 per side x 2 sets

2. Heel raise hold to drop squat

  • Stand up on your toes with arms overhead and knees straight
  • Hold this starting position stiff for 3 second
  • Quickly drop into a squat as you swing your arms behind you
  • Hold your ending squat position stiff for 3 second
  •  Repeat 3 x 2 sets

3. Single leg Romanian deadlift (RDL)

  • Balance on one leg with your arms in an active runner’s position
  • Hinge at the hip and reach forward with both arms, keeping your standing leg knee almost straight (vertical shin angle)
  • Hold for 5 seconds, feel your glute and hamstring on the standing leg engage and use your glute and hamstring to drive back up to the start position
  • Repeat 5 per side x 2 sets

4. Single leg stance to side step

  • Balance on one leg with arms active, then drop to one side into a squat position
  • Control the movement back into a single leg hold
  • Repeat 5 per side x 2 sets

5. Single leg stance to pivot step

  • Balance on one leg with arms active, then rotate your shoulders and hips open 45 degrees and drop down into a squat, keeping the front knee in the same position
  • Control the movement back into a single leg hold
  • Repeat 5 per side x 2 sets


As physios, we always encourage prevention and there’s no better way than a proactive approach to improving mobility. We always advise that it’s more important to be consistent, so always start with movements that are doable first, then work your way up to more challenging or extensive routines.  If you’re looking for upper body stretches, be sure to check our last post on upper body stretches for better flexibility and posture!

Upper Body Stretches for Better Flexibility and Posture

1. Sadigursky D, Almeida Braid J, Neiva Lemos De Lira D, Almeida Barreto Machado B, Jamil Fernandes Carneiro R, Oliveira Colavolpe P. The FIFA 11+ Injury Prevention Program For Soccer Players: A Systematic Review. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation (2017). 9(1): 1-8.
2. Buckthorpe M. Optimising the Late‑Stage Rehabilitation and Return‑to‑Sport Training and Testing Process After ACL Reconstruction. Sports Medicine (2019). 49:1043–1058.
3. Hubscher M, Zech A, Pfeifer K, Hansel F, Vogt L, Banzer W. Neuromuscular Training for Sports Injury Prevention: A Systematic Review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2010). 42(3): 413-421.

The Physio Shop specializes in evidence-based physiotherapy and massage therapy in a sweet commercial drive clinic, with a friendly barbershop feel. Plus, we do virtual sessions too, because 2020 right? If you’re dealing with nagging aches and pains, schedule a session with our finest Physiotherapists or Massage Therapists today. Or stop by and say hello to Sophie, that works too.