Spartan SGX: Breaking Down the Warm-Up

By: Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS, SGX

Always start your workout with a warm-up. Although flexibility and unrestricted movement may be important for long term injury prevention, static stretching and flexibility exercises are not an important part of a warm-up. Stretching moves a joint through its full range of motion; however, it does this passively and does very little to increase the temperature of muscle. The warm-up should be active and move the joints through their full range of motion. The warm-up progresses from low intensity towards high intensity. For some, the warm-up may actually have them gassed by the end. The benefits of a warm-up include: increased tissue temperature, tissue compliance, energy metabolism, movement efficiency and reduced tissue stiffness. The warm-up can also be used to reinforce fundamental movement mechanics related to speed and agility. The warm-up should emphasize proper foot placement to promote acceleration and prevent deceleration.

Perform one set of each movement at a slow speed for 20 yards and then perform a second set at a faster speed for 20 yards. Stationary movements should be performed for 15 repetitions.

Linear Movements

Focuses on the muscles that cross the hip, knee, and ankle on the anterior and posterior side.

High Knee Walk


As you step forward, grasp just below the knee on the opposite legs and pull the knee towards the chest. Extend the stepping leg, and rise on the toes. Keep the chest high, don’t lean back.

High Knee Skip


This exercise is gentle skipping to warm-up the hip muscles. The focus is on rhythmic movement not height or distance. Swing arms opposite the legs. If the left knee is forward the, left arm is back.

Start by running in place, keeping the knees high. Slowly progress forward. Focus on landing on the ball of the foot.  Do not lean back or round the shoulders. Pump the arms.

Quickly flex the knee bringing the heel of the foot towards the buttocks. Pump the arms in sync with the legs.

March with straight legs, and reach for toes with the opposite hand. Keep the chest high, don’t lean back. Do not kick the leg up, actively raise it until you feel tension in the hamstrings.

Same as above with rhythmic skipping included.

Balance on one leg with the arms out to side. Rotate at the hip and lean forward until the chest is parallel to the ground. Keep both legs straight. Return to the upright position. To move forward, swing the back leg through for one large step.

Literally run backwards. Take large steps, reaching as far as possible with the lead leg. Lean forward at the hips, keep the eyes looking forward.

Start with the hips low, in a ¼ squat position. Take smaller steps compared to the backward run, keep the feet beneath the hips. Focus on short quick steps. Keep the hips low, and the chest held high.

Take one giant step forward; drop down into the lunge position, and then using the forward leg rise out of the lunge position and step forward with the opposite leg.  For the backward lunge, do the same except you are walking backwards.


Begin in the push-up position. Drop the hips until they touch the floor,  keep the arms extended so that the chest is off of the floor.  Keeping the legs straight, walk the feet as close as possible to the hands. Then walk the hands out until you are back in the push-up position.



Lateral Movements

Focuses on the lateral and medial muscles of the hip and thigh

Begin with feet about four feet apart. Shift your weight to the right, flex the right knee and hip, and keep the left leg straight.  Keep the right heel down,and sit back without rounding the back. Drive through the right foot and step back into the upright position.  Repeat for the desired distance and repeat for the left leg.

This drill is done in a stationary position. Assume a push-up position and step forward as if trying to step on your right hand with your right foot. Then, drop the right elbow and touch it to the ground. Return to the start position and repeat for the right side.  Complete 6 reps for each side.

Upper Body

Focuses on the muscles that cross the shoulder and shoulder girdle.

Stand upright with the hands by your side. Jump and raise your arms up from your side overhead and land with feet wider than shoulder width apart. Jump and return to the start position. Repeat for 15 repetitions.


Stand upright with your hands together in front of your chest. Jump and move arms out to the side and land with feet wider than shoulder width apart. Jump and return to the start position. The arms are making a seal clapping motion. Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Stand upright with the hands by your side. Jump and move arms and legs in a cross-country ski motion. Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Dr. Jeff Godin is Spartan’s Head of Fitness Education and an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science, Fitchburg State University.

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