Warming up with a light jog and some dynamic stretches isn’t enough to prepare your body for a hard workout. Both of those are important aspects of a proper warm-up, but the additional (and often overlooked) component, as advocated by world-class running coach Bobby McGee, is muscle activation exercises. These simple moves help to get the muscles fired up and ready to train by communicating with parts of the neuromuscular system that will be called upon while running.
Here are McGee’s three most important activators to do before your next run workout:
For all activation exercises: Do 5–6-second reps and 4–6 rounds. Rest is equal to your rep time.
Quads: Straighten one leg and contract the quad while balancing on the opposite leg. Keep the ankle loose and tension light.
Hamstring: Bend one leg up behind you at 90 degrees while balancing on the opposite leg. Keep the shin parallel to the ground. The ankle should be relaxed.
Glutes/hips: With a slight bend forward, bring one extended leg diagonally backward from the hip at about 45 degrees. Keep the ankle loose.