Stay Warmed Up for Hot Performances


Warm-up should be used before every competitive sporting event to prime the mind and body, reduce the risk of injury, and increase performance . However, little research has examined how long the effects of warm-up last. This is of particular interest in team sports where players sit on the ‘bench’ or events where we need to be marshalled for long periods or have long breaks between events. Here is a greek study that showed performance speed and power declines gradually the longer we sit and do nothing after warming-up.

The Research

The aim of the study was to examine changes in performance and biochemical parameters of basketball players while resting for 10, 20, 30 and 40 minutes after warm-up. On four consecutive days, 14 elite young basketball players (7 male and 7 female) performed a structured sports-specific warm-up. They then had body temperature measured, provided blood samples for analysis of blood lactate and glucose, and performed vertical jump and 10- and 20 m run tests. They then rested for either 10, 20, 30 or 40 min. Body temperature measurement, blood sampling, and performance testing were repeated after each rest interval.

The Results

Body temperature dropped from 36.9 degrees C after warm-up to 36.2 degrees C after 40 minutes of doing nothing. Vertical jump decreased gradually over time during rest to be 13% lower after 10 minutes of rest and 20% lower after 40 minutes of rest. 10- and 20-m run times also got worse over time dropping by approximately 3.5% after 10 minutes of doing nothing to 6.3% after 40 minutes of rest. Blood glucose decreased by about 9% during rest independent of interval duration.

So What?

This research, even though it was done using young athletes, highlights the importance of staying warm after a warm-up. If the competition rules or venue allow you to warm-up somewhere after the official warm-up, then do it! If not, think about other options like wearing warm clothes, jogging on the spot, using an ergo or wind-trainer, or pulleys so you can mimic exactly the action of your sport. Also sip sports drink to keep the all-important blood glucose level up. Pages 55-56 in Chapter 4 (The principles of training the masters athlete) of my book The Masters Athlete give very specific guidelines on the structure of a warm-up to maximise performance in any masters sport.

Source: Galazoulas, C. and others (2012) Gradual decline in performance and changes in biochemical parameters in basketball players while resting after warm-up. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112(9): 3327-3334.