The Most Effective Way to Warm up for a Workout Will Take You Straight Back to Elementary School Recess

Photo: Getty Images/Anucha Songsap / EyeEm
When I got onto the treadmill last night to start my Peloton-guided HIIT run, I expected the usual warm-up moves that would get my muscles lubed up for sprints... like high knees or butt kicks. I definitely didn't expect to... skip.

But that's just what Peloton tread instructor Andy Speer had me (and the countless other runners following along with him) do. And so there I found myself, smack in the middle of a gym at rush hour, skipping on the treadmill while the people next to me were most definitely giving me the side-eye. As silly as it seems, though, skipping's got some serious street cred.

"Skipping is a great movement to prepare the body for running," says Leanne Pedante, certified running coach and head of training program for Stride. "Skipping forces the body to practice sharp, efficient muscle actions that you need when you run fast: knee drive, propulsion, core control, and arm drive. And skipping drills increase flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes, and shoulders, while warming up other key muscles like your quads and calves." So yeah, skipping's legit.

While it may just feel like you're prancercising (do click on the YouTube link if you're not familiar—you certainly won't regret it), skipping is doing your bod a whole lot of good in priming it for mobile, sleek, efficient movement... aka running. Also, let me tell you: It's not as easy as it felt when we were kids. According to Pedante, there are two popular skipping drills for runners—A-skip and B-skip. "The A-skip looks a lot like the kind that you remember from childhood—you're swinging your arms, propelling yourself off the ground with one foot," she says. "In the B-skip, when your knee is raised, you'll then extend your leg at the top, kick it out, and pull it quickly back through with a crisp, pawing motion." Your hamstrings will get a yummy dynamic stretch as you extend your leg at the top.

Whichever skip you choose, though, Pedante says form is key. "Pay attention to your posture as you perform the drill," she says. "Your shoulders should be relaxed, your elbows bent, and your spine long." Once you nail that, your coordination and flexibility (and muscles) will be fired up, all as you skip right along into your workout. Try not to smile as you do it.

If you're just... not going to skip, try these 12 dynamic stretching exercises to warm you up instead. Also useful? The "waterfall stretch", which is a dynamic hamstring stretch that makes your legs feel like *butter.*

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