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An Easy 10-Minute Cardio Warm Up

woman stretching on running path
Warm up your muscles to maximize your cardio workout!

by Steven Auger

If you're looking for a prime cardio workout, there are plenty of options to choose from! You could, for example, enjoy a run one day and try a new machine the next. Whatever your preference, it's important to do a proper warm-up before you get into your workout!

Why is this the case? A cardio warm up can provide many benefits to your body. It raises your heart rate and loosens up your muscles. Tired and stiff muscles are more injury-prone, so warming up can also help prevent injuries from occurring while you're exercising. Not to mention, your body will come alive! A good warm up can help you feel energized and ready to tackle the cardio session ahead. And with your body better prepared, you'll get the most out of your workout.

Now that you know why warming up is important, keep preparing with the following 10-minute cardio warm up. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Complete the routine twice if you're up for it!

1. Butt Kickers

Don't let your workout kick your butt — warm up with some butt kickers instead!

While lightly jogging, tap your glutes with your heels. Butt kickers will help warm up your leg muscles and engage the quadriceps and hamstrings.

2. Lunges

To perform a lunge, start from a standing position with your feet together. Slowly step one foot forward into a lunge position while dropping your hips toward the floor. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Your front knee should be aligned with or just slightly behind your toes. Engage your core in the movement and push off with that same leg to return to the starting position. Repeat these motions with the other leg.

3. Jumping Jacks

Time to get the blood flowing with some jumping jacks! While they might take you back to fifth-grade gym class, jumping jacks are a great aerobic exercise designed to increase your heart rate. Jumping jacks also work the calves, abs, shoulders, and glutes.

They're simple to perform, too! From a standing position with your arms by your sides, spread your arms and legs as you jump. Return your arms to your sides and your legs to the starting position with a second jump. Repeat this movement at whatever pace feels right to you!

4. Planks

Now that your heart rate is up, focus on your core with some planks. Planks can improve your core strength and stability, which are key to protecting your spine while you work out. And, like jumping jacks, planks require no additional equipment and can be performed anywhere. Start in a kneeling position. Your hands and knees should all be on the floor as you keep your torso parallel to the ground. With your core tightened, drop down so that you're balancing on your forearms. Then, extend your legs out behind you so only your feet and forearms are touching the floor. Keeping your spine as straight as possible, hold this position and don't forget to breathe!

5. Mountain Climbers

If those jacks got you going, you'll love mountain climbers!

Start with your hands flat on the floor just in front of your shoulders. Bring your left thigh to your chest and place your left foot on the floor. Lift your right knee off of the floor and fully extend your right leg behind you. Engage your abs and switch leg positions — bring your right knee forward and your left leg back simultaneously. Repeat this move for a comfortable number of reps.

Stretch It Out!

Now that you've completed your cardio warm up, take a few minutes to stretch. Stretching can decrease muscle stiffness and increase range of motion, according to the American Council on Exercise. And since cardio involves the lower and upper body, you should stretch both your arms and your legs!

Now that you're properly warmed up, you are ready to crush your cardio workout! As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.