You’re Getting Warmer, Warmer… Cold

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hot-cold-faucetsRemember playing that game as a kid? You would pick something and give warmer or colder hints to your friend as they tried to guess the answer. That’s what came to mind the past couple weeks at the gym as I was watching fellow gym goers on the cardio machines prior to their workouts.

Before my workouts, I always warm up. I get to the gym about 10 minutes early, sometimes 15 minutes if I’m feeling particularly peppy. I jump on a cardio machine for these 10 – 15 minutes. There are several reasons for this:

  1. I don’t want to pull a muscle or break a hip at my advanced age 😉
  2. The actual workout seems so much harder if I start cold
  3. I burn more calories during the workout if I warm up first (Ding, ding! We have a winner here.)

Warming up gets the blood flowing to the muscles and lets them know that something work is coming. If you don’t warm up, the muscles aren’t ready and you risk accidentally over stressing them. Muscles don’t like stress in their lives any more than you do. Be kind to them.

If you blaze into your workout cold, your heart starts sending the blood to your muscles as fast as it can instead of in a slow, controlled ramp up. The same workout without a warm up seems so much harder than it does if you get a chance to ease your body into it with those first 10 minutes.

Plus as I said above, you actually end up burning more calories during the actual workout if you get in a warm up. This is in addition to the actual warm up calories burned. This is reason enough alone for me to do it. A warm up gets your heart rate up and once it’s elevated, it takes much less work to keep it up. A higher heart rate equates to more calories burned.

Now the question of how hard should you work during a warm up. It is a warm up, right? It should start out pretty easy for the first minute or two and gradually increase in effort. I try to get my heart rate up to about 150 for the last 5 minutes of the warm up.

You should have a nice sweat going by the end and be breathing much heavier than when you started. You should not be gasping for air and ready to collapse. You still have to workout afterall. Don’t leave it all on the warm up floor.

If you can carry on a text conversation during your warm up, you aren’t working hard enough. If you can easily dial and talk on your phone, you need to step it up. If you pause and step onto the sides of the treadmill and chat with your friend, you probably shouldn’t bother calling it a warm up.

Yes, these are all gym faux pas that I’ve recently witnessed. Hopefully you aren’t doing these things, but if you are maybe it’s because you really didn’t know what a warm up should be. Now that excuse is gone. 😉

How long do you warm up? What is your usual warm up choice – stepper, elliptical, treadmill?

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