We all know we should warm up before exercise—but how many of us actually take the time to do it? Whether you’re heading outside for a run or hitting the weights at the gym, performing a seven to 15 minute dynamic warm-up is important not only to reduce the risk of injury1, but also to positively influence the power output and overall effectiveness of your workout.2

The goals of your pre-exercise warm-up should be to increase your core body temperature, blood flow and flexibility to help prepare your body for exercise 3.Mobility training drills, which help to improve range of motion, stability and functional movement4, are an easy, efficient and effective way to warm-up before a workout.

Mobility training incorporates simple and dynamic multi-joint movements with flexibility training—in this case, think basic yoga poses with more movement—and they can be performed by anyone, no matter their level of fitness or range of motion.

The following three mobility training drills, which focus on improving mobility in both the upper and lower body, can be used as a warm-up before any exercise session.

1. Single-leg balance to backwards lunge

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to your left foot and raise your right knee up in front of you as high as it can go while maintaining an upright posture. Focus on keeping your left leg relatively straight with a slight bend in the knee, maintaining your balance and keeping your ribcage down. Hold for five seconds then step your right leg backwards into a lunge. Once you are stable in the lunge position, reach your right arm up overhead and stretch to the opposite side, bending your torso slightly to the left. You should feel the stretch down the right side of your torso. Hold for five seconds before returning to a standing position. Repeat the drill on the same side for a total of five repetitions, and then switch to the opposite leg.

2. Downward dog to cobra pose

Start in the plank position with your hands positioned shoulder-width apart and elbows extended. Inhale deeply and push your hips back towards your feet. With exhalation, stretch your heels down toward the floor, trying to keep your knee straight but not locked. At the same time, try to maintain a straight spine and press your palms into the floor. Keep your head in a neutral position between your upper arms. Breathe easily in downward dog for five seconds. With inhalation, reverse the move and come back into plank. Exhale as you slowly lower from plank into a low push-up position. Inhale as you bring your hips to the floor, extend your thoracic spine and push up onto your hands, lifting your chest up and out into cobra pose. (If you have lower back pain, skip cobra pose and simply push back up into downward dog.) Hold this pose for five seconds before returning to plank. Repeat this drill five times.

3. Spiderman with overhead reach

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and take an exaggerated step forward with your right leg into a deep lunge. As you’re lunging down, bring both hands down to the floor just inside the right foot. Once you’ve found a stable position, press your upper-right arm into your knee as you rotate your torso and bring your left arm up overhead. Let your eyes follow your left hand as you reach it up overhead. You should feel a stretch in your chest, groin, quadriceps, and back. Hold this position for five seconds before rotating back down and returning to a standing position. Alternate sides for a total of 10 repetitions.


1. Thacker, SB, Gilchrist, J, Stroup, DF, and Kimsey, CD, Jr. The impact of stretching on sports injury risk: a systematic review of the literature. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36: 371-378, 2004.

2. McMillian, DJ, Moore, JH, Hatler, BS, and Taylor, DC. Dynamic vs. static-stretching warm-up: the effect on power and agility performance. J Strength Cond Res 20: 492-499, 2006.

3. Smith, C. The warm-up procedure: to stretch or not to stretch. A brief review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 19: 12-17, 1994.

4. Brooks, Toby, and Cressey, Eric. Mobility training for the young athlete. Strength Cond J 35: 27-33, 2013.

Author Bio: Bri Wilson is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and endurance sport junkie who loves to explore the great outdoors in her hometown on Vancouver Island in BC. When she’s not helping clients achieve their health and fitness goals at Koru Personal Training, she writes about training for marathons, triathlons and ultra marathons on her blog, runliftyoga.com. You can find her on twitter @runliftyoga.