I see people do it all the time - they come to the gym, put their training clothes on, and head straight to the weights. Whatís wrong with that, you'd ask. Well, let me tell you is wrong with it. If you miss to warm up properly the risk of injury that you are facing is quite big.
So, what is the best way to warm up, you'd ask. To me the best way is by doing cardiovascular warm up exercises for a short period of 5 to 10 min. Thatís all.
But before we go deeper into the type of exercises and how to do them, letís clear up what a cardiovascular exercise is. No, letís start even further back - what is cardiovascular.
The cardiovascular system includes the following - heart, lungs, arteries, veins, and capillaries. So, obviously a cardiovascular exercise influences directly that system.
When using a cardio machine to warm up, several things happen. The energy burned by the working muscles causes the blood temperature to rise. The heart starts beating faster, the blood vessels dilate from the increased temperature, more blood and oxygen are sent to the muscles and less to the organs, the muscles become more elastic and less susceptible to injury.
So far so good, but what choices do you have for cardiovascular warm up exercises? Well, it all depends on what cardio machines your gym is equipped with. Usually almost every gym nowadays has at least treadmills, static bicycles and Stairmasters. Many studios have also elliptical and rowing machines in their arsenal.
To follow you'll find an explanation on how to use each of these machines to properly warm up.
On the treadmill start walking for about a minute. Increase the speed for a light jog. Do that for another minute. Now, depending on the type of the machine you can increase the inclination or if thatís not an option you can further increase the speed for normal jogging.
Choose speed that will allow you to maintain a heart rate no higher than 120 bpm (beats per minute). The whole warm up session should last between 5 and 10 min.
To warm up on the static bicycle, begin with light resistance for a minute. The speed is close to two revolutions per second. Now, tighten up to light-moderate for another minute. Check your heart rate. It it is below 100 bpm increase the resistance to moderate. Continue for a total of 5 - 10 min.
On the Stairmaster choose resistance that will let you do one march every two seconds. After a minute you can decrease the resistance so that you do one march every second. That should bring your heart rate to around 120, so keep it there.
If you prefer to use the elliptical machine, start again with light resistance for a minute. The speed should be two steps every second. Slightly tighten up for another minute as you maintain the same speed. From there you can further increase the speed or you can increase the resistance till your heart rate reaches 110 - 120 bpm. Maintain this state for a total of 5 to 10 min.
To warm up, suing the rowing machine, sit down on the seat and start rowing with a slow motion for about a minute. Next, slightly increase the resistance for another minute. Continue by increasing the speed and maintaining for another 3 - 5 min. That should be good enough here. Make sure your heart rate doesn't go over 120 - 125. If that happens slow down till your heart rate returns below these values.
Now, in case the cardio machines in your gym are not equipped with heart rate monitors you can easily determine your heart rate by placing your index and middle fingers on your carotid artery (on the neck, to the side of the Adamís apple) or on your radial artery (wrist).
Press firmly till you start feeling the throbbing sensation. Watch the timer on the cardio machine and count the heart beats for 10 sec. Multiply the result by 6. Thatís the heart rate you need to know.
Until next time, good luck with all of your exercise and fat loss goals!
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