BEST Pre-Squats Warm-Up Routine (No Aches, Pains, or Stiffness)
In this post, I go over the best pre-squats warm-up routine you can utilize to prepare your body for squats.
Most often when people are getting ready to squat they need to work through stiffness rather than their mobility deficiencies.
Mobility deficiencies are best addressed when you can devote a good number of sessions and time to improving your mobility of specific body parts (e.g. hamstring, glutes, hip flexors, etc.).
On the other hand, stiffness prevents you from reaching your end range of motion (ROM) and working through that stiffness using mobility drills and exercises will allow you to achieve a greater ROM than when you started and make squatting more comfortable overall.
This pre-squats warm-up routine goes over warming your body up, dynamic stretches and movement/mobility drills that will prime your body for squatting and getting depth without aches, pain or stiffness.
And while having the mobility to squat effectively is extremely important I’ll address that in my next post.
The Pre Squats Warm-Up Routine
We first want to start by warming up your body so that you can get your heart rate a little elevated and get some warm blood flowing throughout your body.
Overall you’ll only need to spend about 3-5 minutes on a bike (traditional or air bike), rower, or walking to accomplish this.
NOTE: it’s best to avoid running as it will be a little more impactful than is necessary for the purposes of your pre squats warm-up routine.
It’s important that your body is warm prior to stretching otherwise you might overstretch your muscles prior to using them for your squats.
The inchworm is a good stretch to warm-up your shoulders, hamstrings, and back and work on some torso stability as well.
For this stretch, you’ll want to perform 10 reps total.
Additionally, you’ll want to perform this movement with control on the way up and down so that your body can get the full benefit of the movement.
NOTE: if you struggle to reach the floor go ahead and bend your knees so that your hamstring flexibility doesn’t limit you performing an inchworm.
High Knee Pulls
This movement will allow work on stretching out your glutes and proximal hamstring as well as challenging some ankle and hip stability.
Overall you’ll want to perform 10 reps each side and slowly work on getting you knee higher and higher to your chest.
This dynamic stretch will help stretch out both your hamstrings and hip flexors.
For this exercise, you’ll want to perform 20 swings each side and slowly work your way higher and higher up, but be sure to keep your leg as straight as possible or your hamstrings won’t get the full benefit of the movement.
Additionally, when coming back be sure to emphasize the hip extension so you can get a good hip flexor stretch.
Lateral Leg Swings
The lateral version of the leg swing allows you to track your leg across your body and change the emphasis of your exercise to include your adductors and glutes as well.
Go ahead and per for 15 swings each side and focus on really opening up your hips to get the most adductor stretch and focus on swinging across your body rather than in front of it.
Hip Flexor Lunges
The second to last dynamic stretch places more of an emphasis on your hip flexors and leg stability. Unlike a traditional lunge, you will want to drop your knee down to the ground and emphasize the sinking of your hips forward so that you can stretch out your hip flexors.
This movement is a must-use stretch for those that are often seated as you’ll be more likely to have tight hip flexors due to being on hip flexion for a large portion of your day.
Perform 10 reps each side and be sure to emphasize your hip flexors rather than just going through the movement.
Dynamic Pigeon Stretch
Finally, a traditional pigeon stretch is a great exercise to stretch out your glutes and lower back. By changing this stretch to be dynamic it becomes a great warm-up exercise that can help alleviate tension without becoming a static stretch.
For this stretch perform 10 reps each side and be sure that you utilize a bench or box of an appropriate height that allows you to keep your shin perpendicular to your body and flat down. Otherwise, the stretch will be altered to emphasize another part of your body.
Kettlebell Goblet Squat with Hip Circle, Hold and Weight Shifting
Moving on to more exercise specific and squatting movements, the kettlebell goblet squat is a great exercise to work through the movement pattern of a traditional squat.
By adding a hip circle just above your knees you’ll be able to prepare your glutes for effectively for squatting and work on how your knees track as well.
However, this variation will have you hold the bottom phase of the exercise and shift your weight side-to-side for the purposes of working through hip mobility/tightness, and ankle mobility as well. Additionally, this exercise will help you avoid valgus knee tracking and emphasize glute engagement too.
For this exercise, you’ll want to pause for about 10 seconds in the bottom phase of your squat and perform 8 reps total.
Hip Circle Lateral Walks
Lateral walks are a great exercise to target your glutes medius and minimus (the glute muscles responsible for hip abduction) as well as priming your glutes to fire while squatting.
To perform this exercise, you’ll want to start with a hip circle just above your knees and your feet set hip-width apart. Take a wide step in one particular direction then bring your feet back to hip width and step wide with your other foot in the opposite direction and repeat this movement for a total of 10 reps in each direction.
NOTE be sure to maintain a quarter squat position to effectively target your glutes.
The bootstrap squat is a great way to warm up your body for squatting by not only targetting your hips but also emphasizing thoracic extension and flexion as well.
During this movement be sure to emphasize extension when you are squatted down by pushing your chest out and emphasize flexion by rounding out your back when your legs are straight.
With each rep, you should aim to sink your hips lower and lower in depth for a total of 10 reps.
Bodyweight Squats with Thoracic Rotation
In addition to working thoracic flexion and extension, we will also be emphasizing thoracic rotation with this exercise as well. Your ability to manipulating your thoracic spine is extremely important to your stability in your spine and your ability to improve your squat mobility and strength as well; hence why this exercise is utilized in your squats warm-up.
With each bodyweight squat, you’ll be working to increase torso rotation until you’ve completed 8 reps with rotation in each direction.
Banded Shoulder Dislocations (Front and Back + Around the World)
Moving on to shoulder specific exercises, the banded shoulder dislocation will help warm up your shoulders which are extremely important to maintaining a strong rack position in your squat.
You’ll start with 10 dislocations front and back then move on to 5 dislocations around your head in each direction.
Make sure to utilize a light resistance band and keep it under constant tension to get the most out of this exercise. A PVC shoulder dislocation is a good alternative to the band but won’t have the same degree of muscle engagement.
Banded Pull Aparts
Next, a banded pull apart is a great exercise to warm-up your posterior deltoids and mid back. To perform this exercise keep your band taught and abduct your arms so the band comes straight across your chest for a total of 15 reps.
Banded Overhead Squats
Finally, you’ll finish your exercises with a banded overhead squat that will emphasize your posterior deltoids and thoracic extension. By finishing up your squats warm-up with this 12 reps of this exercise you’ll be ready to start loading the movement.
Loaded Barbell Squats Warm-Up
Empty Bar Eccentric
Moving on to a loaded squat, you’ll start off by utilizing an empty barbell and focusing on the eccentric phase of your squat and working on getting deeper and deeper into your squats.
Loaded Squats Warm-Up
Finally, you can go ahead and start loading your squats as you’ve finished your squats warm-up. To do this, you’ll incrementally increase the weight till you’ve reached your working weight in about 1-3 warm-up sets.
While being properly primed and warmed-up for your squats is extremely important everything in this routine serves a specific purpose. If you are struggling with hamstring stiffness and your hips generally don’t give you any grief than you can focus primarily on warm-up you hamstrings for squats.
The whole routine will take quite a bit of time to complete, so if you are pressed for time then I would pull the stretches and movements that you are going to benefit most from.
That’s all for effectively priming your body for squats, I’ll be addressing how to improve your mobility for squats in my net video, so I’ll see you in the next one.
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