4/19/12

The LD on the WU

The Low Down on the warm up [WU]. For years we've known you should warm up but a lot of the time we don't question it. 
Should you WU? Does it make performance increase or decrease? What exactly do we have to warm up? and the applicable how to warm up?

I'll answer the first question later on, lets start with performance:

Usually a warm-up (WU) is used for getting the bioenergetics prepared for more intense exercise and reaching homeostasis [the body performs better when it reaches a steady state, where the systems can ease into which one they use and resynthesize ATP at the most efficient rates]. 

WU can be beneficial by stimulating the Central Nervous System [CNS]. By stimulating the CNS reaction and performance will increase. For example without warming up you jump under the squat rack and try to hit a 90% 1RM. The weight feels heavier than normal and in a sense you mentally take away your ability to do it. By stimulating the CNS the weight can feel lighter or mentally your more prepared.

Miura Akira et al. (2009) evaluated the principle of reaching steady state by using a warm up and performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of prior heavy exercise that specifically engenders an acidosis [shown to improve faster muscle action] on CP. Exercise intensities of the 4 main bouts were selected in the range of 90% to 135% peak oxygen uptake so as to reach the limit of tolerance between approximately 1.5 and 10 min. The WU bout was preceded by 6 min cycling at a work rate halfway between the lactate threshold and peak oxygen uptake starting 12 min before the main bout.  WU increased significantly the tolerable duration at every work rate compared with the control. It is concluded that the prior heavy exercise improved performance mainly because of an enhanced aerobic component of exercise energetics. By the body reaching a stable state before the main exercise performance was increased.

What do we need to WU?

Obviously we need to stimulate the CNS and the body overall. Withe the CNS stimulated activities will become more accustomed and with the body prepared and possibly in a state of partial acidosis resistance can be more tolerable and performance thus increases.

Should you WU?

Warming up [shown in the studies] for performance is crucial to athlete performance. Looks like the coaches got this one right.

How should I WU?

If you remember this post about stretching [the first part talks about dynamic] stretching before a workout should only be done in a movement style [dynamic]. The subjects in the article above rode a cycle for certain intensity levels [between 85-135 % O2 consumption] their workout adaptations were greater and so was performance. This shows us that our warm up should slowly incline towards how we want to perform. For instance, when i squat i climb 100 pounds at a time until i reach my working set. If your a lifter, WU should not be the most time consuming but should slowly jump towards your goal. Too intense of sets can wear the system out and decrease performance though [with lifters]. As a lifter the most important thing is to stimulate the CNS.

Non lifters should focus more on an intense WU. For example an athlete should try and reach a higher increase of O2 consumption prior to exercise [if the workout involves more than explosive running in small quantities.] This also is like playing with fire because to intense of WU can drain from performance. Just try a dynamic WU followed by a minimal amount of sprints to greater stimulate the Immediate system and Aerobic. If you do 15 sprints for a workout a WU may be 3 sprints at 85% max effort [ME]

This is all based off of what some research has shown, any contradictions or comments show it below.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.