Warm ups are used prior to training and competition by athletes from all sports. But, can a warm up actually improve performance?
Dr. Jeffrey Tucker, a sports medicine chiropractor in Brentwood, CA teaches his patients that a proper dynamic warm up can increase endurance performance. In one study that pertains to cyclist performances, eight well trained road cyclists were used and they performed time trials after the following warm ups. These warm ups were performed in a random order.
* No warm up (control)
* Easy warm up – This involved a 15 minute warm up, made up of three 5 minute segments at power outputs of 70, 80 and 90% of ventilatory threshold followed by 2 minutes rest.
(Ventilatory threshold is the point during incremental exercise where lactate begins to build up in the bloodstream marked by a rapid increase in breathing rate).
* Hard warm-up – This involved the same three 5 minute segments, plus 3 minutes at the respiratory threshold followed by 6 minutes rest.
(Respiratory threshold is a higher intensity of exercise marked by the onset of hyperventilation).
Oxygen uptake, power output and the contributions of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems to the 3k time trial effort were measured throughout each test. Key results were as follows:
* 3k time trial performance was improved after both easy (266.8 seconds) and hard (267.3 seconds) warm ups, compared with 274.4 seconds after no warm up.
* The gain in performance after both active warm up conditions was mostly during the first 1,000m, reflecting higher early power outputs than after no warm up.
* Oxygen uptake was significantly greater after the active warm ups than after no warm up;
* There were no differences in anaerobic power output during the trials, but aerobic power output during the first 1,000m was larger after the active warm ups than after no warm up.
The authors concluded that the pre exercise warm up led to a significant performance enhancement of about 2-3%, which seems to be associated with boosted aerobic efficiency especially in the early stages of a race.
Med Sci Sports Exerc 2005; vol 37, no 9, 1608-1614
These are the types of studies we use to help patients make decisions about training and workouts.