Trainers Agree That All of Your Workouts Should Start With This Full-Body Move

Photo: Getty Images/Jenna Masoud
I've noticed a trend in nearly every workout that I do these days: Before going ahead with the strength training session du jour, the instructor tends to always begin with a round of inchworms.

No, the "inchworm" is not a breakdancing move (despite sounding an awful lot like one)—It's a hard full-body workout. You start by standing up with your feet at hips' distance apart, then walk out with your hands into a plank while keeping your feet in place. Typically, at this point you'll be instructed to do a push-up (ugh), then crawl your way back to standing, and then repeat. Inchworms sound deceptively easy, but once you get into them, they're quite the challenge.

"The inchworm is a great dynamic exercise used to warm up the entire muscular system. It focuses primarily on increasing flexibility throughout ones hamstrings as well as increases strength within ones shoulders chest and deltoids," says Aaptiv trainer Mike Septh. "It’s a great warm up because it increases stress throughout the entire muscular system through one movement." And according to Michael Pugliese, a senior Barry's Bootcamp instructor, in workouts where there's a heavy load put on your muscles—particularly your upper body—it's "imperative to warm-up and lubricate the shoulder joint." And that's where the inchworm comes in.

It's also great pre- or post-run, too, since the move helps stretch out your legs. "Whether it's the first move of the day or after a run, the inchworm provides an all-important stretch for the entire posterior chain," says Pugliese. "This is a crucial opportunity to lengthen out the hamstrings as well as the space between each vertebrae from your hips to your head." You can certainly feel it all over—it lengthens your body, stretches your legs, engages your core, and works your arms. Once you do, say, 30-seconds' worth, your bod is primed for nimbly moving through a kickass workout.

By the way, here are two trainers' takes on whether you should do cardio or strength training first in your workout. And this is the lowdown on the whole cardio vs. weights battle. (Hint: Ya should be doing both.)

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