If you're in a hurry, you may want to skip your warm up and get right to the nitty gritty, but cold, stiff muscles can lead to injuries. Think of your warm up as a necessity for preparing your body for what's to come. That warm up gets your blood flowing more easily, increasing the length and elasticity of your muscle fibers. That allows you to perform better and protect your body from injury.
- Warming Up for Cardio: Start at a light intensity of your chosen activity and gradually increase it over 10 minutes. For example, if you're a runner, you might start with 5 minutes of brisk walking before moving into 5 minutes of light jogging.
- Warming Up for Strength or Stretching: Try 5 - 10 minutes of moderate cardio or do warm up sets of each strength training exercise. For example, if you're doing a bench press, warm up by using a light weight for 1-2 sets of 16 repetitions. If you're lifting very heavy, you may need more than one warm up set to prepare your body.
Many people stretch before their workouts to avoid injury, but experts have found it doesn't work and it may even set you up for injury. If you do stretch, make sure you do it after your warm up or, even better, after your workout when your muscles are warm and you're ready to relax.
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