A session with one of our Expert Personal Trainers in Twickenham typically starts with a warm up. This is common sense – don’t run before you can walk. I don’t think I have ever started a session without doing some form of warm up. However, when you stop to think about it, you may begin to wonder why.

A lecturer of mine gave me some food for thought. Think about a Lion, it will repeatedly go from 0 to 60  whenever it gets the chance of food. I can’t remember Sir David Attenborough uttering the words, ‘the Lion must stop to stretch it’s hamstring before starting a chase’. It would be absurd to even imagine this kind of thing happening within nature. We are not Lions, and herein the problem lies. We no longer have to hunt, we lead (mostly) sedentary lives. Yes, even those of you who run 5 miles a day are sedentary for a large parts of the day. We are not the conditioned beasts we used to be, therefore the process has changed.

The jury is still out even within the top ranks of Strength and Conditioning when it comes to warm ups. There is good deal of research presenting evidence both for an against. However many studies presenting against the effectiveness of warm ups have a number of pitfalls. Most notably the specificity of the warm up in relation to the main performance. Rather than have a big debate I am simply going to present what we DO know works with warm ups and WHY.


Warm Up What Exactly?

Ask any GCSE PE student the purpose of a warm up and they will (hopefully) tell you it increases core temperature and mobilises the joints. A good answer, but what does increases core temperature actually do?

Increased core temperature can lead to the following (these are only a few):

  • Increase dissociation of O2
    • More O2 effectively passed from the blood to the working muscles
  • Reduce muscle viscosity
    • Reduced stiffness of muscle, meaning improved range of motion at the joint
  • Improves extensibility of connective tissue
    • Reduced stiffness of connective tissue, meaning improved range of motion at the joint
  • Facilitate muscle blood flow
    • Increased amount of blood flow to supply the working muscles effectively


So I Am Physically Warm… What Else?

In addition to physically changing your core temperature, a warm up holds other benefits. An effective warm up can lead to:

  • Increase contracting relax speed of muscles
  • Improved motor control
  • Effective movement technique
  • Improved mental concentration


Be Effective, Efficient and Improve

Warm Up EffectivelySo a warm up is well worth it. Time wise, an effective warm up can be completed in 3-5 minutes. Pick skills and movements that progress to recreate the demands of the session to come. Gradual progression can look like this:

  • Low – High Intensity
  • Simple – Complex Movements
  • General – Specific Exercises


If you are inexperienced, use a warm up to practice exercise specific drills. It is the perfect opportunity to learn and develop your skills while progressing to the full movement. Use your time effectively and reap the rewards.