Kick-start your bod, your mind, your day with one chill (but invigorating) routine.
Excuse us for being dramatic, but in the bowels of the morning—when your eyes are heavy, your brain is a big ol’ mushball, and the shower feels a million miles away—you need something to wake your ass up. That something is called an activation warm-up.
“As you sleep, your core temperature drops, your body becomes dehydrated, and connective tissues are less flexible,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Alex Zimmerman, director of Equinox’s T4 fitness program and creator of this sequence. “Flowing through slow, rhythmic movements improves blood circulation, increasing your range of motion, and prepares the nervous system for what’s next.” What’s next can be a four-mile run, a Pilates sesh, or, you know, just getting your butt up and out for work.
The workout: Perform this progression three or four times a week first thing in the morning. (Or use it before any workout at any hour to boost mobility, turn up your muscles’ power potential, and reduce injury risk.) Do each exercise in the order instructed; repeat the series once or twice, slowly speeding up the tempo of the final move each time.
EXERCISE 1: SIDE-LYING HIP OPENER
Lie faceup on the floor, arms at your sides. Bend your right knee and lift your right leg over your left, then hold your right leg down with your left hand (A). Bend your left knee and grab the top of your left foot with your right hand. Inhale through your nose; lower your right shoulder toward the floor as you exhale through your mouth (B). Hold for five breaths, then return to start. Repeat on the other side.
EXERCISE 2: CRAB REACH
Start in a reverse tabletop position but with your hands facing away from your body and your butt only one inch off the floor (A). Lift your hips as you reach your right hand overhead and slightly to the left (B). Lower everything to return to start. That’s one rep; do eight, then switch sides.
EXERCISE 3: DOWNWARD DOG TO MOUNTAIN CLIMBER
Start in a pushup position (A). Shift your hips back and up toward the ceiling (B). Glide back into a pushup position, then draw your right knee to your right elbow (C). Return to start, then draw your left knee to your left elbow. Return to start, then shift your hips back again. That’s one rep; do six to eight.
EXERCISE 4: LATERAL LUNGE TO OVERHEAD REACH
Stand with your feet together. Step your left foot out three to four feet and extend your arms overhead (A), then bend your left knee to lunge left, both feet facing forward. Lean to the left, your body forming a straight line from your right foot to your right hand (B). Return to start. That’s one rep; do 10, then switch sides.