Fitness Articles

Reference Guide to Warming Up

An In-Depth Look at the Warm Up

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How to Warm Up
When warming up, keep the FITT Principles (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type) in mind.
  • Frequency: How often you should warm up
    A proper warm up should be done before any exercise session or physical activity, whether it is a cardio, strength training workout, or stretching.
     
  • Intensity: How intensely you should warm up
    A warm-up should start with exercises of low intensity and then progress to match the intensity of the main exercises of the workout. The greater the intensity of the workout, the longer its warm-up should be. Speed, strength, and difficult technical workouts should have longer warm-ups than aerobic fitness or endurance workouts. A general recommendation is to perform a warm-up that includes all the large muscle groups of the body.

    For an effective warm up, perform movements that increase your heart rate and breathing, and slightly increase the temperature of your muscle tissue. A good indication of this is when you have raised a light sweat. Your warm up should be nice and easy. If it makes you too tired, try doing less strenuous warm up exercises.
     
  • Time: How long your warm up should last
    Your warm up should last at least 5-10 minutes (or slightly longer in cold weather or before high-intensity exercise). Breathing will be harder than normal, but not as hard as during the actual exercise.
     
  • Type: What activities are suitable for warming up?
    See “Examples of Warm Up Activities” above. The warm up can be a lower intensity version of the workout you are about to do, or it can be a completely different exercise. As long as it increases your heart rate and breathing, and involves the muscles you are about to use, it is considered a proper warm up.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

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