Don’t Skip Your Warm-Up: Prepare for Maximum Strength, Power, and Performance

Warming-up is critical if you want to reap the greatest possible gains from your training. The principle of specificity, which refers to the method whereby an individual is trained in a specific manner to produce a particular adaptation or training outcome, applies to your warm-up as well as your workout program. A few weeks ago I stressed the benefit of a high-intensity warm-up of 40-second sprints to enhance testosterone response post-workout and achieve peak power and strength gains.

New research reinforces the value of an intense warm-up on power and strength, and highlights a more favorable recovery following a high-intensity workout via improved lactate distribution between blood plasma and erythrocytes—red blood cells that contain hemoglobin and transport oxygen. An intensive warm-up (IWU) with 12 minutes of cycling at 60 percent of maximal oxygen uptake with three high-intensity all-out sprint phases of 10 seconds were found to improve performance more than a no warm-up (NWU) and an extensive warm-up group (EWU) . The IWU group improved peak power output more than the EWU and had a better recovery rate of pH following the workout. Reasons for improved recovery appear to be due to a “higher preloading” with the IWU warm-up before the workout, causing a smaller increase in lactate buildup during training.

The key is to precisely program your warm-up, workout protocol, and recovery based on training goals. For peak performance and power a high-intensity warm-up is critical and will affect you once you leave the gym to recuperate.

For more on warm-ups read Maximize Strength and Hormonal Response with a High-Intensity Warm-Up

Wahl, P., Zinner, C., Yue, Z., Bloch, W., Mester, J. Warming-Up Affects Performance and Lactate Distribution Between Plasma and Red Blood Cells. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2010. 9, 499-507.

Achen, J., Jeukendrup, A.E. Relation Between Plasma Lactate Concentration and Fat Oxidation Rates Over a Wide Range of exercise Intensities. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2004. 25(1), 32-37.


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