Warm-Up Strategies for Sport and Exercise: Mechanisms and Applications

Abstract

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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Correspondence to Courtney J. McGowan.

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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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Keywords

  • Exercise Bout
  • Swimming Performance
  • Sprint Performance
  • Transition Duration
  • Drop Jump