The Right Way to Warm-Up


Good news, skipping long warm-ups may improve your athletic performance a new study finds.

A team of researchers from the University of Calgary Human Performance Laboratory found that shorter, lower-intensity warm-ups (counterintuitive to the long warm-ups athletes traditionally practice) actually helped improve race performance. The results were published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

The participants, 10 top-level cyclists, were put through a longer, traditional warm-up that reached 95 percent of their maximum heart rate and lasted 50 minutes as well as a shorter, 15-minute warm-up where they only reached 70 percent of their maximum heart rate.

The results: researchers observed less muscle fatigue and more peak power (about 6.2 percent higher) in the participants after the shorter warm-up. In this case, a vigorous workout isn’t always better.

“The findings suggest that competitive athletes may reap greater rewards from post-activation potentiation (PAP) by engaging in less strenuous warm-up than conventional wisdom dictates,” the study’s co-author Brian R. MacIntosh said in a news release. “A better approach would be to aim for just enough activity to promote PAP without creating fatigue.”

The study isn’t suggesting skipping the warm-up altogether; rather, by decreasing the time and intensity, athletes may be able to gain the upper hand in competition. The researchers note this may be particularly important for athletes whose competitions are close together like sprinters, cyclists and swimmers. Or you know, for the average guy who likes to do intervals.