The answer is… it depends! Generally, not less than 5 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes. Or to be really annoying, your warm-up should be as long as necessary but no longer.
Seriously, how long should a warm-up be is a very personal question. It depends on you, what you’re going to do and external factors around you.
The length of your warm-up depends on some of the following factors.
1. Workout intensity
The harder and longer your workout is going to be, the longer you need to warm-up.
For example, if you are going for a jog, a few minutes of warming-up will be adequate. If, however, you are going to be sprinting or lifting very heavy weights, you’ll need a longer warm-up.
Adjust the duration of your workout according to how hard you’re going to exercise.
Read more: How hard should you exercise?
Older exercisers may benefit from a longer warm-up. Older bones and joints are often stiff and sore, so it makes sense to spend some extra time loosening everything up so that movement is more fluid.
An increased focus on joint mobility can make an older person’s workout much more comfortable.
If it’s cold, a longer and more thorough warm-up can make for a much more comfortable workout.
In addition, being cold tends to drive blood away from your extremities and into your core which is great for survival but not helpful for exercise. A longer pulse raiser may be necessary.
On the flip side, if it’s very hot, too much warming up can leave you tired before your real workout begins. Also, muscles tend to be more flexible in warmer temperatures. If it’s hot, a shorter warm-up may be appropriate.
4. Time of day
An early morning workout is a great way to start your day but also means that you are going from completely inert and spaced-out to exercising hard very quickly.
If you like to exercise first thing in the morning, you may benefit from a longer warm-up – especially if your workout is going to be intense.
As the day progresses and you’ve been moving around more, your joints and muscles will be more mobile so you may not need such a lengthy warm-up.
Read more: When is the best time to exercise?
5. Injury status
Many exercisers carry aches and pains that aren’t serious enough to curtail activity but do require some additional care. If you have an old injury, take extra time warming up that particular area and make sure it’s ready for what is to follow.
A neoprene support sleeve can help keep the area warm and provide a modicum of support so you can work out in comfort.
If you do have an injury, check with a medical professional that exercise wont exacerbate or aggravate the problem.
6. Level of fitness
The more fit you are, the longer your warm-up can be and probably needs to be. A fit person can work out much more intensely than a less fit person; weights will be heavier and movement speeds will be faster, and ergo more strenuous.
Conversely, a less fit person could end up exhausted after an excessively long warm-up. Adjust the duration of your warm up to suit your current fitness level.