It is widely accepted that warming-up prior to exercise is vital for the attainment of optimum performance. Both passive and active warm-up can evoke temperature, metabolic, neural and psychology-related effects, including increased anaerobic metabolism, elevated oxygen uptake kinetics and post-activation potentiation. Passive warm-up can increase body temperature without depleting energy substrate stores, as occurs during the physical activity associated with active warm-up. While the use of passive warm-up alone is not commonplace, the idea of utilizing passive warming techniques to maintain elevated core and muscle temperature throughout the transition phase (the period between completion of the warm-up and the start of the event) is gaining in popularity. Active warm-up induces greater metabolic changes, leading to increased preparedness for a subsequent exercise task. Until recently, only modest scientific evidence was available supporting the effectiveness of pre-competition warm-ups, with early studies often containing relatively few participants and focusing mostly on physiological rather than performance-related changes. External issues faced by athletes pre-competition, including access to equipment and the length of the transition/marshalling phase, have also frequently been overlooked. Consequently, warm-up strategies have continued to develop largely on a trial-and-error basis, utilizing coach and athlete experiences rather than scientific evidence. However, over the past decade or so, new research has emerged, providing greater insight into how and why warm-up influences subsequent performance. This review identifies potential physiological mechanisms underpinning warm-ups and how they can affect subsequent exercise performance, and provides recommendations for warm-up strategy design for specific individual and team sports.
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No sources of funding were used in the preparation of this article.
Conflict of interest
Courtney McGowan, David Pyne, Kevin Thompson and Ben Rattray declare that they have no conflicts of interest that are relevant to the content of this review.
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McGowan, C.J., Pyne, D.B., Thompson, K.G. et al. Warm-Up Strategies for Sport and Exercise: Mechanisms and Applications. Sports Med 45, 1523–1546 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0376-x
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