5 Essential Pre-Workout Exercises Before Running

essential running in the sunset

Performing pre-workout exercises before running are essential like checking your car’s vitals before going on a long road trip. If you care enough to check your vehicle’s oil and fluid gauges, tire pressure, and other stuff under the hood to ensure a safe and trouble-free journey, then you should also take the time to condition your legs and its adjacent muscles before hitting the pavement.

A simple 5 to 10 minutes pre-running routine will not only get you all warmed up for an exhilarating run, it will also help you go a long way in achieving your fitness goals. For starter, it will increase blood circulation in your lower extremities thereby enhancing its strength and stamina to go further. Secondly, it will prep and lubricate your muscles, joints, and tendons, thus significantly decreasing the risks of injuries and early onset fatigue. Plus, these exercises also count in your effort to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass.

The following pre-workout exercises rev up the muscles and loosen the joints your body recruits for running:

  1. Forward Lunges – this movement also strengthens and firms up your quadriceps, calf and gluteus muscles.

essential one legged lunges

  • Begin by standing upright with your hands resting on your side, your hips, or the back of your neck.
  • Raise your right leg and lunge forward until your right foot falls flat on the ground and your right thigh is almost parallel to the floor. At the same time, bend your left leg at the knee until your patella or kneecap is almost touching the floor and your left foot is in a tiptoe position.
  • Return to starting position and do the same sequence with left leg forward and right leg backward. Continue this alternating leg movement until you reach 30 counts for one complete set.
  1. Curtsy Lunges – also called a curtsy squat, this exercise works out the same muscles as in forward lunge, plus your hamstrings and hip flexors.

front woman one legged lunges

  • Basically, it has the same starting position as forward lunge but with a bit wider stance.
  • Instead of lunging frontward, you will cross your lifted leg towards the opposite side. It is called a curtsy lunge because your legs will end up in the same position, as a ballerina taking a bow, except your body remains upright during the whole sequence.
  • Do the movement repeatedly for 30 counts, alternating the legs in each lunge.
  1. Side Step Squat – your quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, and glutes will be activated in this pre-workout exercise with equipment that allows a TRX Squat style movement.

woman pulling trx strap

  • Begin by standing straight with your feet together. Again you can place your hands on your side, your hips, or the back of your neck.
  • Lift your right leg and do a side step while lowering your upright body by bending both knees until you end up in a squat position. In this state, your thighs should be almost parallel to floor as if you are sitting on an invisible chair. Hold the squat for 3-5 seconds before returning to starting position.
  • Do 10 to15 repetitions, and then do the same with your other leg.
  1. Plyometric Squat – it works out your glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, abs, and arms.

woman box jumps in gym

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and with your arms at your side. Do a squatting movement by bending your knees and pushing back your buttocks until your thighs are of the same height or slightly lower than your knees. At the same time, raise your hands to the same level as your chest. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • As you return to the starting position, do a springing jump while pushing your hands down to your sides. Do 15 reps to make one set.
  1. Fire Hydrant with Heel Kick Up – This exercise strengthens and firms up your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, as well as your core and quadriceps.  
  • Start by dropping on all fours with straight arms and bended knees. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor and not arched. Alternately tighten and relax your abdominal muscles while doing each sequence so you will also get the benefits of planking.

woman doing kickbacks on knees

  • The first movement is called “fire hydrant” as it imitates a dog’s way of relieving itself. Meaning, you will lift one leg and swing it outward, all the while maintaining your legs at a 90-degree bend at the knee. Next, swing the same leg back in and kick your heel up to the direction of the sky or ceiling.
  • Repeat the whole sequence for 10 to 15 counts, and then do the same with the other leg.

Final Words

Always remember to do proper breathing when performing these pre-workout exercises before running. Moreover, try to do at least 2 to 3 sets per movement to fully reap its muscle-firming benefits. This will be on top, of course, of heating your core temperature, loosening your joints and gradually elevating your heart rate, making your body better conditioned for running.

Chester Peterson is the founder of HeroMuscles.Com, the father of two children. I workout every day and I really want to share with you my knowledge and experience about my passion on this blog. It would be great if you dropped by, read what I wrote and left some comments. Connect with him at Twitter


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