Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Warm-Up Concepts for Training

There is More to the Warm-Up Than Simply Jogging

What is the importance of a warm-up? – The main purpose of the warm-up is to increase the temperature and blood flow to working muscles, this includes the heart. The warm-up will also aid in the stretching of targeted muscle fibers, and increase the elasticity of tendons and ligaments; all of this combined will decrease the risk of injury to the body. To start exercising at full intensity will put a strain on the muscles of the heart, musculoskeletal system, as well as, the tendons and ligaments predisposing the body to an increased risk of injury. Your warm-up should last 3 to 15 minutes and you should start to break a sweat during your warm-up.

Types of Warm-Ups

The General Warm-Up:
This warm-up involves large body movements that are repeated for a period of time at a low intensity. These movements are generally typical of what the public believes a warm-up to be. The length of the warm-up should be determined by the planned intensity of the workout. A more intense workout should have a longer warm-up period.

General Warm-Up Activities

Calisthenics (Like Jumping Jacks)

Specific Warm-Up:
The specific warm-up utilizes movement patterns and musculature that will be used during the workout. This is a popular warm-up for strength athletes and recreational athletes that are just going to be focusing on weight training. This type of warm-up will not only increase the blood flow and temperature of the working muscles, but it will also enhance the neurological pathways associated the muscles being worked.

Specific Warm-Up Activities
Bench Press
Romanian Deadlifts
Specific Warm-Up
Light Weight Bench Press
Form Running or High Knees
Half Lunges or Low Intensity Scissor Jumps
Light Weight Cleans
Light Weight Romanian Deadlifts

Performance Warm-Up:
This warm-up is more sports specific and should prepare the exerciser for dynamic, powerful, and intense movements. It is a combination of the general warm-up and the specific warm-up. This warm-up uses large sport-specific motions that should increase in intensity and range of motion throughout the duration of the warm-up exercise.  However, despite the increase in intensity, your intensity during your warm-up should never equal the intensity level intended for your workout. Therefore, keep your energy level lower than a moderate intensity. Some Olympic athletes have performed performance warm-ups for up to 30 minutes.

Performance Warm-Up Example of Progression

Jump rope for 3-5 min
Ladder and dot drills
High Knees  & Butt Kicks (dynamic stretching)
Side Band Walks (dynamic stretching)
Medicine Ball Toss
Low Intensity Strides

Functional Warm-Up:
The concept behind the functional warm-up is to use movement patterns that are natural to body, but enhance stability, function, strength, and core work. This concept allows for the entire human kinetic chain to become utilized and ready for training. The idea of the functional warm-up stems from physical therapy clinics and made its way into the gym. Benefits include those that are found in the general & specific warm-ups, but the functional aspect of this warm-up prepares your body to work in a manner that is intended for human movement patterns.

Functional Warm-Up Example of Progression

Low Level Activity: Walking, Jog, or Bike for 3-5 minutes
Rotator Cuff: Band work for the shoulder cuff muscles 2-4 sets
Abdominal: Swiss ball chops 2-4 sets
Lower Back: Glute Bridges 2-4 sets

                Designing your warm-up should be based off of personal interests, goals, and abilities. If you know that clean and jerks will not be a part of your workout than you should probably leave them out of your warm-up. The first part of designing your warm-up is based off of your intended workout; meaning that your warm-up’s movement patterns should mimic what you intend to do later. Hopefully you will change it up now that you know that there is more to a warm-up than just jogging for 5 minutes. Now go and break a sweat.

Weight loss tipThe warm-up prepares your body’s metabolism for exercise making it more efficient at burning calories.              


Biagioli, B. D., Smith, W. , Grieve, S., Wyrwas, A., & Wermus, S.  (2007). Exercising programming components. In Advanced concepts of personal training. (1st ed., Chap. 15., pp. 310 – 313). USA: NCSF.

Prentice, W. E. (2010). Preventing injuries through fitness training. In Essentials of athletic injury management. (8th ed., Chap. 4., p. 65). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Powers, S. K., Dodd, S. L., Jackson, E. M. (2011). General principles of exercise for health and fitness. In Total fitness & wellness. (3rd ed., Chap. 2., pp. 38 – 39). San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings.

All photos are from google.com/images 


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