Read below for the best exercises to add to your warm up routine prior to lower body exercise. Make sure to read Part 1 of this blog series first to understand the importance of warming up.
Light to moderate intensity lower body cardio:
Pick your favourite lower body cardio machine, e.g. treadmill/elliptical/cycle or if done at home simply walk/jog. Start at a low intensity for 5 minutes then build to a moderate intensity for 5 minutes.
Single leg dead lift with weight in opposite hand:
Stand on one leg with a weight in the opposite hand, if balance is an issue then you can use some upper limb support, e.g. hold onto a chair/machine/wall. Keep a slight bend in your stance leg. Hinge at your hips and lower your trunk and hand holding the weight towards the ground, keeping your back straight throughout. Keep your hips still – try to avoid them dropping downwards or twisting. Return up to the start position while keeping your back straight and using your posterior chain musculature- glutes and hamstrings. Keep pressure evenly throughout the bottom of your foot throughout the movement, the other leg should not touch the ground after each rep. 3×10 reps (each leg).
Place a looped band around the middle of your feet, this can be placed higher up your leg ie at your ankle or below/above your knee – the higher up the band the easier the exercise will be. Sit back into a partial squat position – knees bent and glutes back, keep this position throughout the movement. Walk forward by moving your foot forward then out to the side, the resistance of the band will try to pull your foot inwards – resist this force. Walk 5m forwards in this fashion then move in reverse for 5m moving your foot backwards then outwards. Forwards and backwards x3 reps.
Bulgarian split squat with band:
Loop a large band around something that won’t move, i.e. a gym machine or, if done at home, the dining room table. Stand in a split squat position – 1 leg forward and one behind. The leg behind will be placed on either a bench (at gym) or chair (at home) with the knee bent and the foot and toes on the object. The front leg will be on the ground. The other end of the band should be looped above your front knee – note the force of the band should be trying to pull your leg inwards so the band should be around the leg furthest from the gym machine/table. Now you are in position bend at the knee and lower towards the ground, while simultaneously hinging forward at the hips so your trunk will move forwards and your knee will track over your toes (no this is not dangerous). Make sure the band doesn’t pull your knee inwards as you lower, then return to the start position. 3×10 reps (each leg).
As you have probably noticed I haven’t included any static stretching in this warm up, if you’ve read my previous blog ‘What type of exercise prevents sports injuries’ you’ll know I’m not a fan of static stretching prior to a dynamic task like a barbell back squat, or sports like soccer for that matter.
So there you have it, 3 of the best exercises to include in your lower body warm up routine prior exercise. This is not exclusive to lower body day in the gym and could also be used prior to classes, sports, yoga etc. Like stated in Part 1 you are best off being assessed by your Physiotherapist so they can tailor exercises specific to your needs, but these exercises are a great place to start as they cover the bases.