Physical Warm-ups

"Warm It Up Chris...I'm About To!"

How do you get the spark ignited?

Physical warm ups should be a staple of any drama class.

They get the ball rolling
They get the creative juices flowing
They get the cobwebs swept away.

Drama class is different than any other class and warm ups are one way to define that difference. Every class should start with some sort of physical warm up/

Get used to the routine!

Physical Warm Ups

The physical warm-up is the life force of a good acting workshop session.

Actors have to constantly fight to remain present,
in the moment and mentally focused.

These following warm-up routines are meant to provide diversity in the warm-up routine you have, and provide a good amount of activity to prepare the performer for the session.

Routine 1

Shake and Stretch:

It's important to wake up the muscles by shaking and stretching. Shaking is a great way to get moving in place.

Create your own routine:

- Move methodically from the top of the head to the tip of the toes
- Shake each body part individually.
- Start shaking in pairs: head and knees, shoulders and torso, legs and head.
- Then do all over body shakes.
- Have the group shake their body in a high space (reaching to the ceiling)
Shake low (as low to the floor as they can get).
- Shake wide and skinny.
- Vary the speed (slow motion is fun).
- Try to shake without bending at the elbows and knees.

ADDING ON: After a couple of weeks of shaking, start shouting FREEZE as the group shakes their whole body. Emphasize that they should form a shape when they freeze.


remember to breath...

Routine 2

Yoga stretches

Over one week of class, go step by step to teach the sun salutation
You can find a step by step guide to the sun salutation here complete with diagrams.


Routine 3

Tense and Release:

Tense the body, hold for five seconds and release.

Breath in - breath out

-Do this for the whole body
-Then separate body parts.


Routine 4

The Alphabet:

Draw the alphabet in the air with different body parts: ankle, elbow, top of the head, shoulder, knee.


Routine 5

Weather Walks:

Every one moves around the space...this is a timed activity.

- Walking at a brisk pace
- Try to use all the corners of the room.
- Everyone should focus on walking so that they don't bump into anyone.
- There should also be no talking.
- Try to avoid 'the circle of doom' where everyone ends up walking around the room in a circle, all going in the same direction.
- Once everyone is focused at neutral walking:


Change the weather
The aim is that everyone must:
- Change their walk to suit the weather. The more specific they can be, the better!

How do you walk in different weather?
Some different environments include:

  • hot sticky summer heat
  • a blizzard
  • a breeze, a fall wind, a hurricane
  • a perfect summer day
  • a rain storm

Once you have different weathers down,
Change the environment:

  • a rocky steep mountain top
  • underwater
  • dark forest at night
  • Amazon jungle
  • New York City
  • the moon
  • a sheet of ice


Routine 6

Gesture Grow:

Form a circle.

Person One does a small gesture.
- Everyone in the circle repeats the gesture.

Person Two does the same gesture, and exaggerates it just a little.
- Everyone in the circle repeats this new gesture.

Person Three does the same gesture, and exaggerates it a little more.
- Everyone in the circle repeats the gesture.

Continue around the circle.

It's important to 'grow' the gesture step by step instead of leaps and bounds.


Routine 7

Who's the Leader:

Form a circle.

Person One goes outside and stands in the hall.

Appoint a 'leader.'
- This 'leader' leads a series of changing gestures (clapping hands, slapping thighs, snapping fingers, dancing in place) which everyone else in the circle imitates.

Their job is to change the gesture without being caught.

Person One returns and stands in the middle of the circle.

Person One must try and guess who's the leader.

They get three guesses.


Routine 8

Made You Look:

Form a circle. Everyone has their head down and their eyes closed. On the count of three, everyone looks up and at another person in the circle. If two people make eye contact they have to point directly at each other and cry out 'Made you look!' These two are out and the circle closes in for another round. Certainly, you can have the two making eye contact cry out anything you like. Just make it clear and loud. Also, draw out the suspense of the count to three. Again, it doesn't have to be numbers, you can say anything!


Routine 9

Monkey Say Monkey Do:

Here's one for the concentration book. Form a circle. Two people stand face to face in the centre of the circle. Person one has to come up with a physical action (eg. jumping up and down) and a verbal action (eg. I am spinning in a circle). Person two has to do the verbal action, NOT the physical action. So, Person Two would have to spin in a circle, not jump up and down. Have another pair come to the centre and try their luck. Here's a list of actions:

  • jump up and down
  • spin in a circle
  • do the twist
  • slap your knees
  • the chicken dance
  • click your heels
  • do the front crawl
  • windmill the arms
  • do a high kick


Routine 10

Materials: None
Grade: K-12
Goal(s): To establish a physical warm-up routine.

A physical 
warm-up gives the actors a focused beginning to each rehearsal and builds ensemble.

Temper Tantrum:
1. Have the actors establish a comfortable standing position, legs slightly bent, space between the feet.
2. Ask the actors to make their arms weightless and relaxed.
3. The actors shake their arms out energetically.

Imaginary Jump Rope:
1. Have the actors pick up an imaginary jump rope.
2. The actors begin to jump rope.
3. Ask the actors to begin jumping double-dutch (jogging in place as they jump rope).
4. The actors jump rope again, swinging the imaginary rope around double time.

Quad Stretch:
1. Have the actors return to a comfortable standing position, legs slightly bent, space between the feet.
2. Ask the actors to grasp their right ankle with their right hand and gently pull their foot upwards. At the same time, the  actors should take their left finger and touch their nose.
3. Repeat this same process with the left leg.

Hamstring Stretch:
1. Ask the actors to take a wide stance (feet more than shoulder width apart) and have them try to touch their nose to their right knee without bending their leg. Repeat this same process, trying to touch the nose to the left knee.

Elongating Spine:
1. The actors bend at the waist and keep a flat back so that their upper torso is parallel to the floor.
2. Ask the actors to imagine they are puppets and a giant puppeteer has attached a string to the middle of their backs.
3. As the giant puppeteer pulls the string upward, the actors should curve their backs towards the ceiling.
4. The string is released and the actors return their backs parallel to the floor.
5. Repeat this process a second time.

Physical Warm-up Conclusion: 
1. Return to and repeat Temper Tantrum.


Suggested Variation(s):Add new movements, but practicing an established routine is an important actor ritual.

Raising The Bar: 
Let the actors take turns leading the warm-up.

VIDEO - Instruction of Routine #1- a short series of movements -


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