In a day of my gym routine I take about 60-70 minutes in the gym. Now, out of this, 10 min (fixed as per chart) each is taken in warm up and in cool down.

I do any one of cross trainer, arc trainer, treadmill or rowing; depending on which day of my chart I am in.

I want to know how effective this is. I just want muscle hypertrophy (more muscle mass), and I'm really interested in strength, stamina, etc. So, I somehow feel that so much time (20 min out of 60) is spent without me gaining any muscle mass.

Is there something I am missing in my calculations? Or could I very well reduce the time spent in such cardio exercises without affecting my muscle hypertrophy.


Specifically, I want to know the duration one should spend on warming up i.e. exercise without any weights. I personally would want this to be as least as possible.

I am in the novice stage of weightlifting. I do warm up the part I am about to do.

Specifically, when I do lower body (out of my 3 day cycle of upper body, lower body and abs) first I do arc trainer (10min) and then free squats (3 sets). This seems overkill to me. I am completely heated up (heart rate is 150-160 when I get off the arc trainer), and I can do the same (such sweat and heart rate) in 5mins.

2 Answers 2


I'm going to answer your question a little sideways because I think it's important to describe what the point of a warmup is, how it is used, and the conditions that require it to be taken more seriously.

I try to focus on a few things when it comes to weight lifting warmups, and break my warmup into two parts. This would be the "I just got to the gym" stage:

  1. Overall body heat. I want to break a sweat no matter what I'm doing.
  2. I want to ensure that I'm specifically warming up the muscles that I'm about to use. It's a little silly to use a bicycle to warmup for bench pressing. It's better than nothing, but a big reason that people love rowing machines is because it's a fairly decent head-to-toe recruitment activity. It's also hard and uncomfortable, which is probably why most people don't do it.

The above is usually about 5 minutes, but I also try to walk to the gym so that I'm fairly warm just showing up.

Then I'll do a specific warmup. This is a bit more involved:

  1. Specifically targeting the muscle recruitment of the lift. If you're doing squats, do some overhead squats, Turkish get-ups, and lunges. Keep the weight really light.
  2. Focus on the muscles and force you want to recruit. For cleans, I find doing box jumps very handy because it gets you into the mode of exploding. For bench pressing, abs-glutes-stiff-as-a-board pushups are a nice way to ready your arms and chest. For deadlifts and squats, glute bridges can remind you what your glutes feel like and how to activate them.
  3. Start with an empty bar, and ramp the weights. I can squat 2x my bodyweight, and have never started with more than an empty bar. After that, it's still 45's on the side, and up and up it goes.

When you can lift heavy (especially past the intermediate stage), a little tweak can really screw you up. So if you're going to pull a muscle or have some problem, you really want to find it at a lower weight. And all that proper warming up puts your body and mind into the right environment for success.

I want to know how effective this is. I just want muscle hypertrophy (more muscle mass), and I'm really interested in strength, stamina, etc.

Just to be clear, these three concepts (hypertrophy, strength, and stamina) are related but have very different training patterns. You can hop around between all of them, but top strength athletes are always stronger than body builders (who are bigger) and they both will tire out way before an endurance athlete who has tremendous muscular stamina.

The warmup needs of endurance athletes (and hypertrophy seeking body builders) are not as severe in the weight room as what I've described above, because they are not constantly knocking on their 1RM-3RM range the way a strength athlete will.

  • 1
    thanks for such a detailed answer. I have updated my question. Also, you did not talk anything about cool down May 4, 2015 at 11:28

I've found that this article from Men's Fitness to provide some useful general guidelines. From the article:

A proper and detailed warm-up moves the body in multiple planes of motion (not just forward and backward), mimics the movements performed in the workout, and starts slow then progresses to harder motions. Similarly, a good cool-down involves soft-tissue work and stretching on tight areas affected by the workout done that day.

Specifically for warmups, the article recommends a few minutes of cardio and:

4-6 bodyweight exercises that incorporate forward and backward as well as side to side and twisting motions.

For the cooldown, the recommendation is to walk for a few minutes and stretch. Some specifics from the article:

After your workout, cool-down with a few minutes of easy walking to reflect on your workout but also allow for a gentle slowing of the heart rate and increase in circulation. Then, hit the foam roller to work on areas used during the workout. This will help to flush away waste products and decrease recovery time before the next session. Lastly, use a few static or assisted stretches on exceptionally tight areas to restore muscle length.

These are the general guidelines that I've used when working out.

Another discussion that you may want to review can be found on this body building page that covers the importance of warmups and cooldowns.

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