5 Warm Up Exercises Before Running that Keep You Going

5 Warm Up Exercises Before Running that Keep You Going

Sandhya TS Sandhya TS
9 minute read

Okay, ladies- hear me out. Running in itself is indeed a lot of exercises and I am NOT trying to add more to your plate. Well, okay. Maybe I am, but a warm-up is just so important for you! Running is a high-impact exercise, and your body will take time to adjust. A warm-up is the best way to prep your body for that. Believe me, exercise before running is beneficial and can be fun. It helps reduce injury risk and improves performance by increasing blood flow, improving flexibility, and strengthening joints. So, here are five warm-up exercises that will help you get ready for your next run.

Run in Place for a Minute

Exercises before running, running in place

Run in place for a minute. Do it slowly, but don’t stop. Even if you have got your outdoor running clothes for women on, run inside your house for just a minute. This is usually the first thing I do before I head out for a run. It gets your heart rate up and your blood flowing. I’ve found that after a minute of running in place, I’m usually ready to go! For hesitant folks like me who think twice, and maybe thrice before getting out and working out, I have found that this can be highly helpful, just to get started. You are already running, so might as well continue and finish. It’s also a great way to warm up your body if you’re headed outside and it’s cold outside. 

How to Perform this Exercise

Running in place is pretty straightforward. Just start running in place, and keep it up for a minute or two. You can also add some arm movements if desired, but this is not necessary for this warmup exercise. When you’re done, take a break and then move on to some other type of warmup exercise. Ideally, the next one. 

Benefits of this Workout

  • Your heart rate goes up.

  • You feel warmer.

  • Your muscles get warmed up and ready for more intense exercise.

Arm Circles

arm strength

Arm circles are a great warm-up exercise before running that you should consider. It helps to loosen up your shoulders and arms, which is especially important if you’re a runner who performs a lot of upper-body movements. This exercise can also help prevent injury by increasing blood flow and circulation throughout the body. 

How to Perform this Exercise 

To perform arm circles, start by standing with good posture and holding your arms at shoulder height with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Next, slowly rotate your arms in small circles as if you are stirring something in a pot or mixing ingredients together on a kitchen countertop. You can make these circles larger or smaller as you see fit. For example, if you’re feeling stiff and sore from running, try making the circles larger to help loosen up your muscles. If you want a more focused effect on your shoulders and arms, however, make them smaller.

Benefits of this Workout

  • Loosens and stretches your upper body.

  • Improves your range of motion.

  • Helps improve your posture.

Also Read: Hate the Gym? Fun Alternative Workouts You Could Try Instead



Squats are a great way to improve your running posture, strengthen your core and legs, relieve lower back pain, and build overall body strength. Squats can help you run faster and more efficiently by improving your coordination and balance as well as strengthening muscles that support your knees. There are different variations of squats. But since you are performing squats just as warm-up workouts, try the simple free or bodyweight squats.

How to Perform this Exercise

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend at the knees and hips to lower yourself into a squat position, keeping your back straight and your head up. Hold for one second then stand back up, using your leg muscles. Perform 4 sets of 15 reps. You can add weight to your squats if you want a more intense workout. Hold a dumbbell or barbell in front of your chest and squat away. (Psst... I don't use weights)

Benefits of this Workout

  • Strengthens your lower body.

  • Strengthens your core.

  • Strengthens your leg muscles and improves flexibility.

  • Improves balance and coordination.

Hip Rotation

hip movement

Hip rotation is a fun warmup workout. I never seem to get my balance right when I do it, but do let me know (in the comments) how it goes for you. The goal of this exercise is to strengthen your hip muscles and improve their range of motion. This will help you perform many other exercises more easily, as well as help you prevent injuries. When you rotate your hips, it increases blood flow to the muscles and ligaments. This can help them recover more quickly from workouts, which means that they’ll be ready for another session sooner. This means that you can rotate your hips (if you want, and have the energy) after you are done with your runs. You’ll also improve your balance because your core will be strengthened by holding your body in place while rotating.

How to Perform this Exercise

You can perform hip rotations while standing up or lying down. If you are standing, hold your hips and rotate your hips from side to side. You can also hold on to something for support if you need it. If you are lying down, just lift one leg off of the floor while rotating your hips up towards the ceiling (don’t bring them too far up).

Benefits of this Workout

  • Strengthens your glutes and hamstrings.

  • Improves your balance and stability. 

  • Can improve core strength & reduce lower back pain.

  • Can help improve posture.

Knee Circles

Your knees are perhaps the most important areas to focus on before and after running. You can strengthen your knees by doing knee circles, which is perhaps one of the best exercises before running you should focus upon. This is a great exercise to do after running as well. It will help keep your knees strong and prevent injuries. Knees are greatly involved in running and the more you run, the more important it is to strengthen your knees. This exercise can be done anywhere and takes very little time, which is a blessing. My knees used to be extremely wobbly earlier and now they seem to be getting stronger. 

How to Perform this Exercise

You can perform knee circles quite easily. Just stand straight, with your feet together and knees bent. Hold on to your knees. Keep your feet on the ground. Now, start rotating your knees in a circular manner. Make sure that the knees keep touching each other at all times. Keep doing this until you feel tired or bored with it. (Or for a minute, which is probably better.)

Benefits of this Workout

  • Strengthens your knees.

  • Improves coordination and agility.

  • Improves flexibility of your knee joints.

Also Read: Practicing Yoga for Strength: 6 Exercises to Try

Best Stretching Exercises before Running


Simple rule- before you go running, stretch everything. After you are back from your run, more of the stretchy fun. Since I started running, (and during those phases when I take workouts all too seriously), I have started realizing the importance of the strrretch. A stretching exercise before running is not just about flexibility, it’s about strength as well. If you are not stretching, you are losing out on a lot of benefits that come with running. You need to stretch before and after running because it helps your muscles and ligaments prepare for the activity or recover from injury. Simply put, stretches are the most important warmup exercises before running, and afterward. 

Here are some stretches you MUST do before running:

Calf Stretch:

Stand on a step or curb with one leg while holding onto a wall or other object. Your other leg should be bent behind you, knee touching the ground. Gently bend forward at your hips until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 15 seconds then switch sides.

Hamstring Stretch: 

Lie on your back with one leg straight and the other bent at the knee. Pull your foot toward your butt until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds then switch sides.

Lower Back Stretch:

Stand with one foot on a step or curb. Put your other leg out to the side and bend it at the knee so that your leg is parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your lower back and thigh muscles. Hold for as long as you can and switch sides.

Standing Knee to Chest Stretch: 

Stand with your feet about 8 inches apart. Bend forward at the waist, keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent. Grab one knee with both hands and pull it up toward your chest as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 15 seconds then switch sides. 

Once you are back from your run, hydrate yourself and repeat these stretches again. Don't worry. These are rather basic stretching exercises before running that I have listed out. They will only take a few minutes of your day (as they do mine). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to stretch before a run?

Stretching before a run can help prevent injuries, improve your performance and make you feel better. Even if you don't do the other exercises to do before running I have mentioned, do pre-run stretches. When you stretch, your muscles become more flexible. When you are running and your body is moving fast, it’s easier for a muscle to tear if it isn’t flexible enough. Stretching also helps reduce soreness in the days after a hard workout or race.

What exercises are a must-do before running?

Do the warmups that I have listed above (I promise they are easy) and get some good stretching in. Don't forget the post-run stretch afterward before you take off your running shorts and head to the shower. Stretching exercises for legs before running must be on the top of your list.

Should I exercise before or after running?

It’s best to do both. If you are doing a cross-training workout before running, make sure you warm up first with 5-10 minutes of easy cardio. Then move on to your strength training routine. After your run, cool down for 5 minutes with easy walking or jogging, and then stretch out as described above.

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