What's the aim of a warm up?14/07/21
Your warm up goal
The goal of the warm-up is to prepare yourself mentally and physically for exercise or competition. A very useful way of looking at warm-up is as “performance preparation”, enabling you to perform maximally in your workout/competition.
A well-designed warm-up can increase muscle temperature, core temperature and blood flow, which can positively affect performance:
- Faster muscle contraction and relaxation.
- Improvements in reaction time and rate of force development.
- Improvements in muscle strength and power.
- Improved oxygen delivery.
- Increased blood flow to active muscles.
- Enhanced metabolic reactions.
If the aim of a warm-up is to prepare you for a practice or competition, the optimal warm-up is likely to vary between sports/training you do. It, therefore, needs to address the specific needs of you and the sport.
For example, if you are a runner, who also swims and lifts weights at the gym, your warm-up before the run should be different to the warm-up before the swim or before lifting weights.
What not to do:
Do not use passive/static stretching as a part of the warm-up.
There is little evidence that stretching pre participation prevents injury. Moreover, stretching can compromise muscle performance, which could potentially lead to an injury.
What to do:
- Raise – the aim is to elevate the body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood flow and joint fluid viscosity via low intensity activities.
As a runner, you can start with activities such as hoping on the spot, high knees, jumping jacks, etc.
If you are going to lift weights, this part of the warm-up could consist of some rope skipping, cycling on a stationary bike (for lower body workout), rowing or jogging on a treadmill.
- Activate and mobilise – the aim is to activate the key muscle groups and to mobilise key joints and ranges of motion used in the traning/sport.
This can involve body weight exercises, routines with bands or light weights. For example, as a runner, after your “Raise” phase of the warm-up, you should do some squats, forward/backward/side lunges.
Before lifting the weights, this phase can also involve bodyweight exercises, banded work, or the exercises you are going to perform when doing your working sets, but with lighter weights.
- Potentiate – the aim is to increase the intensity of exercise to a point at which you can perform your training/sport activity at your maximal level.
As a runner, during this phase, you can do some short sprints (not to exhaust you).
For strength training, plyometric, medicine ball, lighter or explosive resistance exercises can be used which will provide further progression towards the workout itself.
Take home message:
Try to remember the following mnemonic and implement it into your warm-up.
Raise, Activate, Mobilise, Potentiate – RAMP.
Thanks to our Sports Therapist Juraj Janco for this article. Juraj works at our Chester clinic where you can book a 1:1 sports therapy session if you would like his specialist advice on: the best warm up routine for you; any other aspect of your training or for rehabilitation advice after injury.
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