By Elliot Fisher MS, ATC, CSCS, PES
Warm ups are the start of most workout routines. It is proposed that warming up will increase performance and decrease injury risk. In this blog post, we will take a look at the benefits of warming up and how to do it.
Passive Warm Up
One objective of warming up is the benefit of increasing core temperature and tissue circulation.(1) This increase in temperature can allow the muscles and other soft tissues to be less stiff and more mobile for the workout. Passively warming up may involve any non specific activites like jogging, bike, walking lunges, etc. This should be done for about 5-10 minutes.(2)
Active Warm Up
It has been shown that warming up can increase the performance during the workout.(3) This is proposed to be caused by better neural conduction.(1) This means by doing the activity at a lower intensity before actually starting, the nervous system is primed for the activity. To do this, start the activity at a low intensity, maybe around 25% of the working effort, then move up to 50%, and 75%, then move to the exercise.
A lot of athletes stretch before they workout to prevent injuries. There is evidence that stretching prior to working out will not reduce the risk of injury.(4) Stretching prior to exercise may actually decrease power output, decreasing overall results.(5) However, if you find that you are severely limited in a certain range of motion, it is fine to stretch in order to increase your range of motion for the workout. For example, if the hamstrings are very tight, maybe allowing only 45 degrees of hip flexion rather than 90 degrees, stretching may increase the range of motion to 75 or 85 degrees, allowing for more range of motion during the workout. This would be a benefit despite the set backs from stretching. If you need to stretch before working out, 30-60 seconds should be fine per stretch.
Warming up is an important part of the workout. It is important to do a general warm up to get the body warm and then a specific warm up in order to get ready for the workout. Stretching should not be done before working out unless range of motion is severely limited.
Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up I. Sports medicine, 33(6), 439-454.
Haff, G. G., & Triplett, N. T. (Eds.). (2015). Essentials of strength training and conditioning 4th edition. Human kinetics.
Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(1), 140-148.
Shrier, I. (1999). Stretching Before Exercise Does Not Reduce the Risk of Local Muscle Injury: A Critical Review of the Clinical. Clin J. Sport Med, 9, 221-227.
Power, K., Behm, D., Cahill, F. A. R. R. E. L. L., Carroll, M., & Young, W. (2004). An acute bout of static stretching: effects on force and jumping performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(8), 1389-1396.