The Science Of Warm Ups

Time to read: 2 mins

Many of us fall into the trap of rushing into our workouts. Often we are slotting our workouts into a given time period and in the hope of getting a few extra gains, the warm up is often an area of the workout that gets compromised or emitted entirely.

But does that matter? If no one got hurt, it doesn’t really matter right? Let's consider the science and see if that holds true.

The term “warm up” is a period of preparatory exercise to enhance subsequent competition or training performance.

Commonly used warm up protocols begin with a period of low intensity aerobic exercise, followed by some activation work, some mobility work then some activity specific movements, such as lighter lifts if you are about to undertake a lifting session, or some technique work.

Generally speaking, the purpose of a warm is as follows:

  • Raise muscle temperature

  • Stimulate blood flow to periphery

  • Increase muscle and tendon suppleness

  • Enhance coordinated movement

An analysis of 92 research studies clearly demonstrated that completing a warm up before activity demonstrated improvements in aerobic, anaerobic, strength and power capabilities. Additionally, improvements were demonstrated in sport based skills such as kicking and throwing accuracy. This seems logical when we consider the main purposes of a warm up listed above.

This same analysis study highlighted the importance of performing activity specific movements within the warm up; performing random movements unrelated to the forthcoming task can actually be detrimental to performance.

Warm ups of a duration of around 10 minutes were shown to have the greatest effect on performance, likely due to shorter protocols being insufficient to raise muscle temperature or stimulate blood flow to the same degree.

So we have established warming up seems like a pretty sensible idea, but what sort of things can we do?

Here are two easy warm ups which can be used as a base protocol and adapted as needed. One gym based and one field based for before that all important football or tennis match.

Gym Warm Up (ideal for a lower body session)

  • PULSE RAISER - 5 minute jog

  • ACTIVATIONS – glute bridges, monster walks, birddog, Lying clams

  • MOBILISATIONS – Walking spidermans, dorsiflexion pulses, hamstring walk outs, leg swings

  • SPECIFIC MOVEMENTS – Overhead squats, Back squats, technical Olympic lift work, light versions of the lifts you are about to perform.

Field-Based Warm Up (ideal for pre sports performance)

  • PULSE RAISER – 5 minute jog

  • ACTIVATIONS – glute bridges, shoulder pro/retractions, side plank leg raises, monster walks

  • MOBILISATIONS – Walking lunge with overhead reach, lateral lunge walks, shoulder circles, leg swings

  • SPECIFIC MOVEMENTS – football kicks, tennis serves, netball passes and shooting

Have a gander at a few of these warm up exercises in this instructional video - Enjoy!

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