Are Warm-ups Beneficial?

Are Warm-ups Beneficial?

Dr. GJohn Mullen Dr. John Mullen, Dryland, Latest&Greatest, Training Leave a Comment

Background On Warm-ups 

A warm-up is beneficial for sports performance. However, the intensity of warm-ups for different race durations is not well studied. It is believed warm-up reduces anaerobic glycolytic metabolism with a parallel increase in aerobic metabolism potentially induced by a faster oxygen uptake kinematics, which may delay fatigue. This would improve middle-distance and short-endurance durations of exercise (3-10 min).

This study examined the effect of warm-up intensity on metabolism and performance in sprint cycling.

What was done

Mean power was determined during a 1-min sprint on 11 trained female cyclist preceded by an easy, moderate, or hard warm-up and a 10-min recovery. Aerobic, anaerobic glycolytic, and phosphocreatine energy provision to the sprint was determined from oxygen uptake and lactate production.

Each subject performed five trials, the first to undertake an incremental load test and to determine VO2peak and peak aerobic power. The second visit, the cyclist undertook their own warm-up and a 1-min performance test for familiarization. The third to fifth visits, subjects undertook one of three warm-up conditions followed by a 10-min seated recovery, a 1-min seated all-out sprint, followed by a 45-min recovery. Visits were at least 48 hours apart.

The three warm-up conditions were:

  • Easy: six min at 40% peak aerobic power
  • Moderate or hard: five min at 40% peak aerobic power, followed immediately by 1-min at 80% (moderate) or 110% (hard) peak aerobic power.


The various warm-ups produced different lactate volumes: easy 1.2, moderate 2.0, hard 4.2 mmol/L. Warm-up did not affect the mean power during the performance test. Blood lactate had a lower change in the high-intensity warm-up, compared to the easy warm-up.


This study supports a warm-up induced a reduction in glycolytic rate, although sprint performance, at least of a long duration, may be maintained due to increased oxygen utilization.

Practical Implication

The study supports the claim that warm-up can reduce anaerobic glycolytic metabolism, but may not have an effect on long-duration sprint performance due to increased oxygen utilization, particular during the latter section of the sprint.

Future studies, need to address durations of 10-30 seconds to look at the creatine phosphate system typically used in sprints swimming (50 meters and yards).


  1. Logan-Sprenger HM, Heigenhauser GJ, Killian KJ, Spriet LL. The effects of dehydration during cycling on skeletal muscle metabolism in females. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Apr 24.

Originally Posted June 2012

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