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The 3 Warm-Up Exercises You Should Do Before A Cardio Workout

Take your cardio game to the next level with these pro tips.

Are you ready to take your cardio workout to the next level? Well, it should start with just the right energy-boosting, protein-packed meal and a solid warm-up routine that'll prep your muscles and body. We spoke with Kevin Curry, founder of Fit Men Cook, a global community of over 2M individuals dedicated to leading healthier, happier lives, about the best warm-up exercises to do before a cardio workout. Curry paired his warm-up tips with some pre-workout meal prep advice, because healthy eats go hand in hand with leading a fit, active lifestyle.

Curry stresses the importance of warming up prior to a workout. By getting the body ready to go, you lessen your chances of getting injured, for one, while enhancing your performance. "When we're young, our bodies can just bounce back. But as we get older, our bodies don't bounce back as easily," Curry explains. "Just like anything in life, we have to be able to prime it to function at its best. Our bodies are no different. By priming our bodies, our muscles are warmed up to really be able to maximize what we can do during the workout. We're not going into a workout in a cold state when our bodies are most vulnerable."

Read on to learn more about Curry's top picks as far as a warm-up is concerned, put them into action, and then get ready to crush your cardio workout. And next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Go on a brisk walk or light jog

man running across bridge on sunny summer day

Going for a brisk walk or light jog is Curry's first recommendation for warming up, which he usually does himself, depending on his workout. Brisk walking can make your bones and muscles stronger, decrease tension and stress, boost your mood, help shed body fat, and enhance your cardiovascular fitness. The benefits of going on a jog as part of your warm-up are quite similar, as it can help you lose weight, make your immune system stronger, and help you deal with stress and depression more effectively.

Related: Speed Up Belly Fat Loss In Your 50s With These Exercises, Trainer Says

Do some deep stretches

man doing superman stretch to warm up for cardio workout

Curry mostly works deep stretching into his warm-up regimen, complete with four to five minutes of breathing for two to three standing poses. "These poses can include putting my leg behind my back to stretch out my quads and bending down to touch my toes. I'll hold these for about a minute to really 'awaken' the muscles and loosen up my body," he tells Eat This, Not That!

Related: The 5 Best Floor Exercises To Increase Your Visceral Fat Burn, Trainer Says

Incorporate foam rolling

foam roller to warm up for cardio workout

Foam rolling is the name of the game when it comes to prepping your body for a workout, and Curry is a major fan. If you haven't done foam rolling before, you're missing out on some quality benefits. The foam roller can ease back pain and muscle soreness, tightness, and inflammation. It may also enhance your range of motion, which in turn will help with performance and flexibility. Healthline stresses to avoid doing roam rolling if you have a major injury like a break or tear in a muscle.

You can shop for foam rollers on Amazon, Lululemon, and more retailers online.

This pre-workout meal prep advice is on point

peanut butter and banana

When it comes to healthy eating, Curry notes the best meal to enjoy before your workout is what works best for you! Some people are able to work out just 30 minutes after eating, while others (like Curry), need to wait a solid hour so they still have energy but can go into the workout on an empty stomach.

Curry notes that an hour and a half before an intense endurance workout, he'll likely enjoy 1 tablespoon of peanut butter with a banana, in addition to 32 ounces of water and black or green tea for an energy/caffeine boost. He opts for healthy fats and complex carbohydrates "because they're going to give me the lasting energy needed throughout my workout so I can go much longer and be more powerful in the gym." He's also a fan of his BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) supplement that gives him an energy boost during a workout and aids any muscle breakdown.

Following the workout (around 30 minutes after, to be exact), Curry will have a "very lean protein shake" and breakfast, because he prefers to do his sweat session in the AM. As far as breakfast is concerned, fried rice (jasmine rice, egg whites, 1 full egg, greens, and soy sauce) or avocado toast with whole grain multi-seed or sourdough bread are Curry's go-to's. (Curry highly recommends perfecting your own fried rice with his brand-new The Fit Cook x Dash Carbon Steel Fry Pan!)

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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