Group strength training formats continue to be some of the most popular options in our facilities. However, the focus is typically on the main workout, and the warm-up becomes secondary. Sometimes we forget that the warm-up is as essential as a good breakfast.

Given the intensity of most strength conditioning classes, it is imperative that the warm-up allow participants to master some of the basic movements and exercises you plan to include. A body-weight-only warm-up gives students a smart and effective way to connect with their bodies. Progress the program design in a smart and logical manner that takes the body through all planes of motion. Gradually increase range of motion at each joint. Make students feel successful without complicated choreography.

In the first few minutes of class, the body and mind are waking up and students are becoming aware of how their bodies are feeling. I find that if you give participants the opportunity to truly challenge themselves during the warm-up, they are better able to “own” the entire workout. The warm-up also gives you a chance to connect with each individual and to notice any participants who might need a little extra attention.

Use this body-weight-only warm-up in your class, and for each exercise remind students to stay with a progression that is challenging but doable.

Get This Body Started

  • Squat, do lower-back roll, come up and expand chest (full 8 counts, 8 reps, 64 counts total).
  • Squat while reaching for outside heel with right (R) hand, come to center, reach for other heel (like a rainbow). Repeat left (L) (64 counts, 16 reps).
  • Do static split squat (SSS) with R leg forward (8 reps, 32 counts), then add cross-country arms (8 reps, 32 counts). Next do SSS with cross-country arms and side tap (8 reps, 32 counts). Then do SSS with cross-country arms and side tap followed by static lunge and then knee balance (4 reps, 32 counts); hold knee balance (1 rep, 16 counts). Set up L side (16 counts); repeat.
  • Perform lateral lunge with arm swing low to high (16 reps, 64 counts). Add slow side-squat hop with arm swing to prayer hands, alternating sides (4 reps, 32 counts). Transition to tempo side-squat hop, alternating sides (8 reps, 32 counts). Put full combination together; repeat.
  • Do slow reverse alternating lunge with prayer arms (8 reps, 32 counts). Rotate over front leg, bringing opposite elbow to outside of front knee (8 reps, 64 counts); repeat on opposite side.
  • Get in sumo squat position and do full-circle arms (8 reps, 32 counts). Add alternating heel drags from side to side (16 reps, 64 counts).
  • Walk down into plank and hold straight-arm position (32 counts). Progress to reaching one (straight) arm forward at a time, alternating arms (16 reps, 32 counts). Rest. Pull back and rotate one elbow at a time, alternating arms (16 reps, 32 counts). Rest. Progress to combination—front straight-arm reach to elbow rotation—and repeat (16 reps, 64 counts). Rest. Go into high plank with diagonal lunges (8 reps, 32 counts); then do alternating hop lunges (like mountain climber) before switching to feet hopping side to side (16 reps, 32 counts). Add butt kicks (8 reps, 32 counts) and transition to donkey kicks (8 reps, 32 counts). Roll out wrists; jump up and bring on the fun!

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Amy Dixon

Amy Dixon is the group fitness manager for Equinox in Santa Monica, California, and is the official spokesperson for WomenÔÇÖs Health magazine. She holds a degree in exercise science and has been in the fitness industry for more than 15 years. Amy is also a fitness DVD star and choreographer, a BOSU®, Schwinn® Cycling, Gymstick and GRAVITY® master trainer, and the writer and former director of a wellness program established for the national organization Senior Friends.
Certification: AFAA

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