Warm-Up Activities for Middle School Students

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Warm-Up Activities for Middle School Students

By Catherine Morris

Warming up is essential for middle-school students, to prep their growing bodies for a workout. It also helps increase buy-in. Middle-schoolers can be full of attitude when faced with tasks they don’t want to do. It’s just part of this unique phase of growing up. Warming up their bodies makes running and other physical activities easier and more enjoyable, ensuring they’re more likely to want to do it again.

INSTRUCTIONS: Use these warm-up activities (also located on the Session Cards) to prepare your middle-school runners before each run club session.


  • FOLLOW THE LEADER: One student acts as the leader by choosing their favorite warm-up activities for the others to copy. Play follow the leader until everyone is ready to run. A different student should be the leader each time the group meets for a run.


  • PLAY TAG: Choose one person to be “it.” As the “it” person tags others, the tagged students also begin chasing others, until everyone has been tagged.


  • FIGURE EIGHTS: Walk or run in figure eights of varied sizes. Be sure to keep quick feet and feel your back and hips stretch.


  • BICYCLES: Lie on backs with legs and feet in the air. Move legs like pedaling a bicycle. Pedal slow, medium and fast for 30 seconds each. Rest between each pedaling speed.


  • HIGH SKIPS: Skip as high as you can for a designated distance. Be sure to stretch your raised arm up high when you skip, to jump even higher! Repeat until warm.


  • ROBOT WALK: With arms out straight, bring one leg straight up, and bend waist to touch toes. Walk slowly, touching alternating toes with each step until warm.


  • CRAB WALK: Walk backwards like a crab on hands and feet for a designated distance. Repeat until warm.


  • HIGH KNEES: Do high knees for 20 seconds: Jog in place, bringing knees up as high as they will go. Rest for 10 seconds between 20-second bursts, and repeat until warm.


  • MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: Start in push-up position. Legs “climb the mountain,” similar to running, for 20 seconds. Hands stay on the ground. Rest between spurts, and repeat until warm.


  • STAR JUMPS: Jump with arms and legs outstretched, like a star, while in the air. Rest briefly between sets of 10 jumps, and repeat until warm.


  • BEAR CRAWL: Crawl on your hands and feet, like a bear, from one designated spot to another. Rest briefly between crawls, and repeat until warm.


  • LEG BALANCES: Make 30 circles with both arms at the same time. Next, make 10 circles with one straight leg that’s lifted off the ground. Switch legs. Repeat process until warm.


  • RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Act like cars while Coach calls out a traffic light color. Run on green. Walk on yellow. Stop on red. Mix up the colors and continue until warm.


  • OBSTACLE COURSE: Construct a simple obstacle course. Ideas include zigzagging between cones or hopping over imaginary lines. Repeat until warm.


  • TOUCH YOUR TOES: Spread arms out to sides. Bend at waist and touch right hand to left foot. Stand up, then touch left hand to right foot. Repeat until warm.


  • FLAP YOUR WINGS: Flap arms like a bird for 20 seconds. Now jog in place while flapping arms for 20 seconds. Repeat until warm.


  • DANCE PARTY: Turn on music and dance in place for 30 seconds. Stop the music. Rest briefly, then turn the music back on and repeat until warm.


  • JUMP ROPE: Jump rope, or mime jumping, for 30 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, and repeat until warm.


  • JUMPING JACKS: Spell out “Marathon Kids” while doing jumping jacks. Rest briefly, then repeat until warm.


  • JOG AND JUMP: Jog in place for 30 seconds, then jump in place for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat until warm.


  • ARM CIRCLES: Move your arms in big forward circles for 30 seconds, followed by backwards circles for 30 seconds. Rest briefly, then repeat until warm.


  • FROG JUMPS: Jump like a frog 10 times, touching the ground and reaching for the sky during each jump. Rest briefly, then repeat until warm.


  • TUCK JUMPS: Do 10 tuck jumps. Jump up and tuck knees up to chest. Land with knees bent. Rest briefly, then repeat until warm.

Make Marathon Kids Your School's Running Partner