Warming up before exercising is something I use to neglect and the price I eventually paid was tendentious in my shoulder. Tendons oftentimes heal very slowly because they have a low blood supply so I had this issue for a very long time but now that I warm up correctly I rarely run into any problems. A lot of people advocate warming up to not only prevent injury but to also improve performance during the actual workout.
Warming up would definitely be something worth doing if it made you temporarily stronger or more athletic before you dove into a workout but let’s see what the studies have found about this.
Can Increase Strength
A study done at the University of São Paulo in Brazil wanted to investigate how effective a curtain kind of warm up routine called a general warm up would be at increasing leg strength when doing the leg press. A general warm up is a warm up that involves cardio to increase your body temperature such as running or riding a cycle. This study involved 16 men who followed 4 different warm up routines.
- One routine involved cardio of a light intensity that lasted for 5 minutes.
- The second routine involved cardio of a light intensity that lasted for 15 minutes.
- The third routine involved cardio of a moderate intensity that lasted for 5 minutes.
- The fourth and last routine involved cardio of a moderate intensity that lasted for 15 minutes.
After going through each warm up the test subjects had their leg strength tested.
- The researchers found that the test subjects benefited the most from the general warm up that involved cardio of a light intensity and lasted for 15 minutes.
- This routine increased leg strength by 3% on average.
- The one involving 15 minutes of cardio at a moderate pace was the least effective probably because it was the most difficult and tiring.
This study suggests that general warm ups can be an effective way of preparing for a workout.
Combining Warm Up Routines
The kind of warm up that I personally like to do is what’s called a specific warm up. This is a kind of warm up where you do the exercise that you are preparing for or a similar exercise using a light resistance.
This kind of warm up has been shown to be effective but a study done at Bandeirantes University of São Paulo in Brazil was done to see how effective combining a specific warm up with a general warm up was for increasing strength compared to just doing a specific warm up. This study involved 13 test subjects who followed 2 different warm up routines to see which was more effective for increasing leg strength while using the leg press machine.
- The first was a specific warm up wherein the test subjects did 8 repetitions with a weight that was 50% of their 1 repetition maximum.
- They then did 3 repetitions with a weight that was 70% of their 1 repetition maximum.
- The second warm up was a general warm up involving 20 minutes of riding on a stationary bike at a light pace followed by the same specific warm up they did the first time.
They had their leg strength tested on the leg press before and after each warm up and what the researchers found was that combing the general warm up with the specific warm up caused an 8.4% greater increase in strength than the specific warm up alone.
This study suggests warming up with some light cardio and doing a few repetitions with a light resistance is a great way of preparing for a workout.
Improves Athletic Ability
A lot of athletes aren’t solely concerned with strength. How high someone can jump is important in many athletic events. A study done at the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece involving 20 male test subjects was designed to test how much warming up could improve how high someone could jump.
- The warm up routine that this study involved was to perform an exercise called the half squat for 5 sets. The half squat is basically a regular power squat only you don’t lower your body as far.
- The 5 sets involved performing the half squat at 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 90% of the test subjects’ 1 repetition maximum.
- Before the test subjects went through the warm up they had their vertical jump height tested just as they did after the warm up routine.
The researchers found that on average there was a 2.39% increase in how high the test subjects were able to jump after the warm up. This study also offers compelling evidence that warming can improve athletic performance.
My experience tells me that warming up can prevent injury and it appears it can also improve your athletic performance during an event or workout.