Active Warm-ups – preparing to run, jump & throw

Active warm-ups that involve dynamic exercises are the most effective way to warm up for running, jumping and throwing, and indeed all sports.

Momentum Sports coaches always recommend - and will show you - these active warm-up techniques so you are ready to go for our coaching sessions.

We adapt our warm-ups to the sessions you’ll be doing, for example, for hurdle workouts you may need to do more dynamic exercises for the hips.

Why do Active Warm-ups?

Prior to exercise, an active warm-up, containing dynamic stretches and movements will get your mind and body ready for what’s to follow. (Held stretches, such as touching your toes to stretch your hamstrings, are much less effective at getting you ready and indeed research says they can actually hinder dynamic sports performance).

Here is a video details what you can do to actively warm up properly. Below that we have a look at the individual elements of this.


Active Warm-up Exercises

On this page you’ll find some examples of the dynamic exercises we include in our active warm-ups.

So what do you do?

Jog 400 to 800 metres to raise your body temperature (jog easily don’t race!). Advanced athletes may go straight into doing the dynamic stretches to warm up.

For each exercise, you should move into a position where you feel your muscles stretching.

To see how to do active warm-up stretches just click on the videos. For the travelling exercises go about 20m for the others do about 20 seconds.

Small Lunges


Small lunges are often the first exercise in our active warm-up routines. Remember the aim of this exercise is to warm you up and not overly exert you.

How to: Put your hands by your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your core strong. Take small steps forward, dropping your back knee to a few cm’s from the floor. Your front leg’s lower leg should be around 90-degrees to the ground and you should keep your torso upright.

Calf Step Backs


You’ll see two versions in the video. In the part the first the leg is positioned straight behind the body and in the second the leg is bent. These target different parts of your calf muscles.

How to: Keep your core braced and stay relatively upright. Step one leg back behind you either straight or bent in order to complete the exercise. Maintain a steady controlled rhythm.

(Note: there is a little too much of a double bounce in this video - try to stretch back once and then change legs i.e. be more deliberate).

High Knees


How to: be light on your feet and lift your knees to a fairly high level but don’t lean back. Keep your toes pointed upwards to create a strong ground contact through your feet. Take short-ish steps. And remember this is an active warm-up exercise and so should not be done explosively.

Heel Flicks


How to: Take short steps, lifting your heels close to your bottom. No knee lift is required for this drill. Use your arms as if running.

Hamstring Walks


How to: Keep tall and walk forward, lifting one leg to a near parallel to the ground position (Lift the leg don’t swing it - you don't want to subject your hamstrings to too much force during the warm up). Keep your standing leg’s heel on the ground.

Sideways High Knees

Most movements in running events are forwards, but a few are lateral, going round the bend on a track or round a corner in a road / cross-country event. So this exercise just stretches off this lateral muscles a little. VIDEO TO FOLLOW.

Back Stretch


How to: Bend forwards and backwards from your waist, maintaining the natural curves of your spine whilst keeping your hands on your hips as shown. Control the movement and avoid bouncing.

Chest Stretch


How to: Bring your elbows in and then take your hands away and back to open the chest as you walk forwards. Again, as with all the exercises in our active warm-up, don’t make the movement bouncy.

Shoulder Stretch


How to: With control swing your arms forwards and backwards independently in a controlled way. The swings can be straight up and down or out to the sides a little.

Hamstring Lunges


How to: Step up and forwards into a lunge, taking your heel close to your bottom (like when you are running). Your landing foot should be placed flat on the ground and your knee should not pass forward of your toes. Next pull the grounded leg back to straighten it to stretch your hamstrings, pulling yourself up as you do so. Move your arms as if running.

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