6 Key Exercise For An Athletic Warmup – Garage Strength

6 Key Exercise For An Athletic Warmup

A lot of people go to the gym and they want to get work done, get a good workout in and have a lot of goals they want to work towards achieving. People have goals of becoming an elite athlete and training and competing at that world-class level.

What people don’t do is prime their nervous system properly or work through full ranges of motion to feel nice and limber and nice and loose as they get into the training session. People who want to compete at the highest levels, and everyone else for that matter, we have to warm-up properly. We have to prime the nervous system as effectively as possible. We also have to make sure that whatever joints are utilized within our chosen sport are warmed up, primed, and ready to go.

Warming up like an elite athlete means the whole goal is to work along the path to becoming a world-class athlete.

6. Backward & Forward Dorsiflexion Walks and Backward & Forward Plantarflexion Walks 

This is a fancy way of saying walk backward and forward on your heels with the toes raised and walking forward and backward on the tip-toes with the heels off the ground.

Do these movements for four sets of each style of the walks for five to ten meters.

The main goal is to warm up the ankles and the tibialis. We will even start to feel it in the quads. As we loosen up, we can even do a crouching position to loosen the knees up a little more as well. The walks will be felt all throughout the front part of the shin and throughout the ankle joint. This will strengthen the Achilles tendon joint and allow the knees to track more effectively over the toes. In addition, it will increase proprioception in the toes.

5. Spanish Squats

Before starting to squat, we want to really wake up the quads. Grab the ground with the feet. We want to have bands around the back of the knees anchored to a non-movable object to get the body rolling. Squat nice and deep, sitting the hips back. At the top, extend the knees back to force more quad activation.

As we loosen up, let the band pull us forward a little bit. We let the knees go a little bit more forward when doing our Spanish squats for this warm-up. It is something that can really be eased into. Slow eccentric help as well.

The band will also pull the ankles forward, so it is a big goal to drive the heels down. Go through this for about two sets of fifteen reps. Do a slow eccentric, crank in the hole, and drive up with the quads. It will really help loosen the knee and ankle joints.

4. Lunges To Hamstring Stretch

We want to see a nice easy lunge into a little bit of a hamstring stretch. It can even be done backward from the hamstring stretch into the lunge. We will feel that in the hip, back hip, and hamstrings, and glutes. We want to make sure to push that knee down performing the lunge and then come back up.

Over time as we become more stable, we can raise the toes and dorsiflex to get an even deeper stretch. Focus on staying balanced. It will really wake up the hips, quads, posterior chain, and lower back.

Do two sets of ten reps for each leg going both forward and backward. We need the posterior chain and hips for the training session to feel good when performing aggressive hip extension.

3. Banded Quarter Squat Lateral Walks

We are focusing on the glute med here. We want a nice, mobile glute medius. We do this as a simple, active warm-up movement. This is done with a band. Get into a little bit of a quarter squat and slowly shuffle the feet from side to side for two sets of eight to twelve meters. 

Using PowerLastic bands, the feet anchor the band for the side shuffle. The band is extended with the upper back and arms. It creates tension in the upper back to help wake the thoracic spine up. It makes the body feel excellent laterally.

This movement is a key component behind feeling good for any type of field sport.

2. Banded Pull Apart & Banded Overhead Squat

We are going to start warming up the upper body now.

With banded pull apart, we like to go and squeeze the shoulder blades together. A lot of people will have elbow flexion. Don’t have elbow flexion; we want long arms. Long arms and drive the fists out until the band touches the chest. Get ten to twelve reps, feeling the shoulder blades contract and wrap around the spine.

From there, go right into the overhead squat, pulling the band apart the whole time with the band overhead. Get nice and deep into a squat. Do this in socks or bare feet. If the ankles aren’t as mobile, we can put a plate under the heels. Sit the butt back and let the knees track forward. Make sure to not let the band come forward and get loose. We want the band nice and tight staying over top of the shoulder blades.

The combination of movements will really help wake up the upper back and hips. Everything will be feeling nice and mobile now before hitting the last piece of the puzzle.

1. Bunny Hops/Pogo Jumps

This movement is focusing on priming the nervous system. It is important before training to get the central nervous system firing. Jumping can do this.

When we pogo jump, we want to think about that when we ground that our heel is slightly above the ground. It is almost a stiff-legged landing. In addition, it will train our body to wake up. The simple plyometric movement is performed in rapid succession.

We want to focus on having a quick tap to wake everything up. It can be utilized to improve reaction time and get a good sweat going. Do two to three sets of ten to fifteen reps.


It is important to get all the joints mobilized, especially the joints used in the sport of choice and the joints to be used during the training session. Warming up is paramount to priming the nervous system as well. We want to prioritize warming up to get the most out of our training sessions. It is important to have blood flowing to the areas that are being trained in the weight room and used during competition. Use the six (or nine) movements from above and let us know how it goes. 


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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