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No Point Pumping Unless You Warm-Up

I'm ready to workout, what's first?

The warm-up. It's a critical first step that you must perform. I typically recommend 6 to 12 minutes of light cardio before every workout. Notice I didn't say some workouts. It's that incredibly important step you must do before every workout.

Cardio is an abbreviation of the word Cardiovascular, which means, "...of, or relating to the heart." The purpose of a Cardio warm-up is to get the heart pumping faster, moving more blood through your muscles. You're raising your body temperature and preparing your body for strenuous exercise.

Examples of some common cardio exercises are the treadmill, stair climber, Lifecycle, rowing machine and Nordic track. For those of you who prefer being outdoors those same exercises are (in order) jogging, running up stairs, bicycling, kayaking and cross country skiing. OK, so that last one might be hard to do in Key West, but the rest of them are pretty easy.

Do your cardio exercise for 6 to 12 minutes, until you break a sweat. If you're not sweating by the time you finish the cardio portion, you're probably not exercising at a high enough intensity.

Very few of my clients enjoy warming up. They want to get right into the weight lifting portion of the workout. I have heard every excuse you can imagine. These are some of the more common ones.

"I don't have enough time to do cardio."

Make your trip to the gym your cardio warm-up. Ride your bike, rollerblade or jog. You'll save time and help the environment by not driving.

"I don't need to warm up."

Everybody has to warm up. If you don't warm up you could injure yourself and may not be able to exercise for weeks. Dozens of studies are now available that document how warming up prevents injuries and promotes muscle growth.

"I don't like to sweat."

If you don't sweat you're not getting an effective workout. Get over your aversion to sweat because you'll be doing a lot of it to get results.

Now you're almost ready to workout, the only thing left is warm-up sets. Oh great, you're probably thinking, more warm-ups? Well, yes. A warm-up set is one that hits the major muscles you're going to work that day.

For example if you're exercising legs do 1 or 2 sets of leg presses or squats. If you plan on working chest a couple sets of bench presses are good. The warm-up set is done with a lighter weight and more repetitions than your typical work set.

Every workout you will:

  1. Warm-up with light cardio 6 to 12 minutes.

  2. Do warmup sets for each bodypart you exercise.

  3. Workout.

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2/6/2003
Updated 1/27/2011
Updated 3/29/2011
Updated 9/23/2012