These days everyone is pressed for time, and the first thing getting the ax from any given workout isn’t the extra bicep curls. It’s the warmup.
This is unfortunate, because the warmup serves many purposes and can nudge things in your favor to have a kick-ass workout.
It increases your core body temperature. You wouldn’t walk out to your car on a sub-freezing day, turn it on, and then immediately start going 60 miles per hour would you? Over time, your car’s performance would suffer. The same can be said about you.
Related: How To Warm Up Like A Pro
It increases joint lubrication. Many guys feel (and move) like the Tin Man prior to working out. Taking the time to warm up helps to lube up those joints so your movement is crisper and you’re able to train through fuller ranges of motion.
It revs up your nervous system, helping to prepare your body for the more dynamic nature of what occurs on the gym floor. Standing in one place performing a few hamstring stretches and arm circles isn’t going to cut it.
In short: The warmup is kind of a big deal. However, despite the litany of benefits, most guys still would rather jump into a live volcano than do it.
The reason, I find, is that many warmups are too long to begin with and don’t accomplish much of anything. Most end up being a laundry list of 10 to 15 exercises like cross arm stretches and toe touches that 1) are slow and boring and take forever, and 2) neglect to target the areas where most guys need it most (glutes, mid-back, hip flexors, and core).
THE ANSWER: HYBRID DRILLS
Hybrid drills are drills that combine a number of exercises into one. They offer a few advantages compared to a traditional warmup.
They expedite the process.
They accomplish everything a warmup is supposed to accomplish (see above).
Bonus: They have a more athletic feel, which many guys appreciate.
Bonus: They don’t make a small piece of your soul die.
The following warmup uses five hybrid drills that will get you ready for any workout—like the dozens of free routines in the Men’s Health App—without wasting time.
The Perfect Warmup
Directions: Perform the following exercises in the order shown before your next workout.
1. Glute bridge with reach, 5 reps per side
This move activates your glutes and mobilizes your spine.
Watch this video to see me demonstrate the exercise, or follow these directions: Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Be sure to push through your heels and feel your glutes fire at the top, and try not to arch your lower back. Lift one arm off the ground and reach diagonally across and above your body.
Hold for a count, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
2. Shin box circuit, 10 reps per side
This is a great “everything” exercise. You’ll open your hips and spine and activate your glutes.
Watch this video to see me demonstrate the exercise, or follow these directions: Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent in front of you, feet flat on the ground. Rotate your knees and hips to one side so that both knees touch the floor, and then bring your body up to a kneeling position on both knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
3. Bear squat squat walkout with reach, 10 reps
This is another doozy of a drill that accomplishes a lot in one. It opens up your hips, ankles, and spine, and activates your core.
Watch this video to see me demonstrate the exercise, or follow these directions: Drop down into a deep squat position and push your knees out with your elbows and make sure your chest is tall. From there, place your hands on the ground and “crawl” forward, making sure your shins hover an inch or two above the ground. Walk your hands back into the deep squat position with your elbows pushing your knees out and then reach up towards the ceiling on both sides.
4. Spiderman with reach, 5 reps per side
This move opens up your hips and upper back.
Watch this video to see me demonstrate the exercise, or follow these directions: Assume a pushup position. Bring your right foot up to your right arm so that your elbow pushes your knee out to help open up your groin. Avoid rounding your back. Reach your right arm up towards the ceiling while simultaneously squeezing your left glutes. Return back to the pushup position and repeat on the other side.
5. Knee hug to lateral lunge, 5 reps per side
This is a great exercise to open up the hips and groin area.
Watch this video to see me demonstrate the exercise, or follow these directions: Bring your right knee to your chest (not chest to knee) and then perform a lateral lunge to your right side, making sure to sit your hips back. To up the ante if you have the mobility, you can perform a Cossack squat where you go all the way towards the floor. If that’s the case, the heel of your right leg should stay on the ground; it’s also okay if your left foot points up towards the ceiling. Return to a standing position and repeat on the left side.
Words by Tony Gentilcore
Tony trains top-level athletes and clients in Boston, Mass., and writes about fitness on his blog.