The importance of a good warm-up

We have all seen it, and some of us are probably guilty of it. We turn up to the gym or our Saturday sport, neglect to warm-up and then 15 minutes later we are struck down with injury or a lower performance than we hoped. 

Having a warm-up plan that supports the exercise or sport you are participating is vital to your overall success. Below is some information that you might find of interest when considering your warm-up.


  1. Warming up increases overall body and muscle temperatures which increase blood flow to the active muscles.
  2. Warm-up increases the body and muscle temperature which helps to increase the rate of energy production.
  3. Contraction and reflex times are improved with higher muscle temperatures.
  4. Exercising without warm-up places a potentially dangerous stress on the heart.  Warming up reduces the stress on the heart.
  5. Soft tissue (tendons, ligaments, muscles) injuries are less likely with proper warm-up.
  6. There is also a psychological benefit from proper warm-up (the athlete feels more ready to participate).

There are three basic types of warm-up programs that will be discussed. They are:

  1. Passive
  2. General
  3. Specific Warm-up

PASSIVE WARM-UP – This is the least effective of all three methods.  It basically consists of the use of an external source of heat, such as a Jacuzzi, sauna, or steam room.  Various types of sports creams are also used by some people to help with warming up.  None of these methods are effective, unless accompanied by one or more of the other forms of warm-up because they do little to increase the temperature deep within the muscles.

GENERAL WARM-UP – Involves activities that stimulate and increase the blood flow to the working muscles.  Such activities as jogging, jumping jacks or some basic calisthenics, are effective warm-up exercises.  They stimulate the cardiovascular system and lungs, as well as preparing the muscles for vigorous activity.

SPECIFIC WARM-UP – Is necessary in skill activities (tennis, baseball, basketball, etc.) and when training with heavy weights.  As the term implies, the specific warm-up prepares the specific muscles that will be used in an activity.  For example, hurdlers generally do not do push-ups before a race but engage in some mild running and practicing specific leg movements involved in hurdling.

DURATION OF A WARM-UP – Prior to your more specific warm-up, a general warm-up should last in the 5 to 10 minute range.  The more vigorous the exercise program or higher skill of the sport, the longer the warm-up should be.

WARM-UP INDICATIONS – Heart rate is a good indicator for judging the effectiveness of your warm-up.  The heart rate should be no more than 10 beats above or below the low-end of your training heart rate range.  A break of light sweat is also another good indicator of a sufficient warm-up.

If you have any questions about your warm-up plan have a chat to Bex or one of our PT's. They are all more than happy to help you out.