Methodology, fundaments and key components for the warm up

Metodología, fundamentos y componentes clave para el calentamiento


Bachelor Degree in Physical Education Sport and Fitness Track

Florida International University


Janfer Fernandez







          In this work I attempt to explain the methodological bases of the warm up. I try to understand how the sports scientists have demonstrated the importance of warming up. In addition, in this article I show the stages of the warm up that cannot be ignored, except when there is a present physiological process such as fatigue. The stages are the following: general and specific segments, especial part is composed of the neuromuscular activation and metabolic preparation stage. Finally, it is important to cool athletes down to allow the effects to progress into the game or session.

          Keywords: Cardiac frequency. Fatigue. General and specific warming. Neuromuscular activation. Metabolic preparation.



          En este trabajo se intenta explicar las bases metodológicas del calentamiento. Se trata de que comprendan como los científicos del deporte han demostrado la importancia del calentamiento. Además, en este artículo se muestran las etapas del calentamiento, que no se pueden pasar por alto si se desea que el atleta llegue en buena forma al entrenamiento. Las etapas son: calentamiento general y específico. La parte especial esta compuesta por la etapa de activación neuromuscular y la preparación metabólica. Por ultimo, es importante recalcar el estado de bajar la frecuencia cardiaca o vuelta a la calma, antes de comenzar la parte principal del entrenamiento o juego. Esto último se usa para tomar agua y descansar.

          Palabras clave: Frecuencia cardiaca. Fatiga. Calentamiento general y específico. Activación neuromuscular. Preparación metabólica.


Reception: 03/17/2015 - Acceptance: 04/28/2016


EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires - Año 21 - Nº 216 - Mayo de 2016. http://www.efdeportes.com/

1 / 1

What is the warm up in sports?

    The warm up is a set of objectively selected exercises, movements, activities, and games that allow the body to prepare itself physiologically, psychologically, and physically for the upcoming activity or game. The warm up serves itself to provide the athlete with an increase of temperature that will allow the body to have certain benefits before starting the special stage of the practice.

Psychological benefits of the warm up

  • Gives the mind a positive attitude toward the activity

  • Allows the athlete to be more focus on the practice or game

  • Allows the athlete to start the analysis of the upcoming activity

  • Keeps athletes focus to prevent injuries

Physiological benefits of the warm up

Nervous System

Muscular System

Cardiovascular System

Respiratory System

Increase a bigger capacity of enzyme reaction

Decreases the viscosity of the muscle and articulations

Increase of cardiac rhythms

Increase oxygen consumption

Increase the firing frequency

Increase the use of energy as oxygen as well

Increase of blood pressure

Activate the regulatory mechanism

Faster nerve signaling

Variation in force velocity

Increase blood flow to muscle

Increase the VO2 Max for the upcoming activity

Increase the state of inhibition excitation

Increases neuromuscular efficiency

Decrease muscle stiffness


Physical benefits of the warm up

  • Increase the motor rehearsal

  • Increase the readiness of movements

  • Correctives mobility of exercises

  • Increase little by little the velocity of movements.


    The warm up has different objectives that need to be acquired during its time. According to Ranzola and Fernandez (2008), one of the objectives is to prepare the body or the person to receive loads of greater intensity in the main part of the session or training. This means that coaches must be aware that everything that will take place of the special part of the training on the day, needs to be done in the warm up at least 85-95% of total individual capacity. “The second objective is to harmonize the set of functional systems to improve physical performance – sports” (Fernandez Herrera, 2008). With that being said, coaches need to look for proper functionality on movements and eliminate extra action that may prevent athletes from performing an optimal skill levels. This objective will prevent athletes to get injured when performing movements and higher intensities. And last objective, but no least is to prevent injuries from players. Even I do not explain this subject, it is important to notice that the only thing that allows athlete to improve is to be healthy through the season, especially in long tournaments. Warm ups need to cover the athletes’ corrective exercise and movement to prevent an injury.

    After talking about physiological, psychological, and physical aspect of the warm up. It is important to start focusing on:

1.    The individual characteristics of the athlete

    Ranzola Rivas (2008) explained “coaches need to have the characteristics of every athlete of their team written down and memorized”. Athletes differ in the time they need to be active on the field, based on fiber distributions, psychological aspect of the moments, and type of temperaments or personality toward the sport. It is important that when working when bigger teams, coaches give a moderate time between the general to special or activation part of the warm up to compensate and not to go over for those that need especial timing.

2.     The characteristics of sport

    As a deeper analysis of different sports, I consider that warm ups differ based of the type of energy used by them in their competition or characteristics. It has been demonstrated in hundreds of researches is that static stretching will provide no benefits at all for preventing injuries and that athletes should look for functionality no flexibility before competing. (Larson, 2014), argued that athletes should look for compliance of movement which is to move through the whole range of movement.

    If we compare the characteristics of the sports, we will notice that combat sport will benefit from static stretching in a bigger amount than other type of anaerobic sport, such as baseball, 100 meter dash, etc. Static stretches in the warm up right after the general stage, will help the athlete’s mobility and range of motion and prevent them from subluxation, sprains, and allow athletes from Judo, Karate, and Taekwondo to protect their joints.

3.     The specifics of competition

    In this stage, coaches must evaluate the percentage of tiredness of athletes. For example, most of the high school athletes would play double headed games. With that in mind, the warm up for the second game should be a re-activation of the special component or stage of the warm. How? By going from slow to faster movements that are included in the sport specific of the game or special stage of the previous warm. Coaches should give twice the time of rest to allow for proper recovery.

Stages or segments of the warm up or warm up configurations

    The general segment: It is formed by the use of large muscles and gross movements to increase muscle temperature. In this segment, we can see athletes jogging, rope jumping, general movements that are executed at slow pace, but at the same time serve different purpose such as to practice movements prior to loading, encourage movement specific efficiency, and increase force coupling via lower-intensity rehearsal.

    This segment has served athletes to execute articulation mobility like flexion, extension, and rotation of joint s such as ankles, knees, hip, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and different like the neck. In addition, it is an important occasion to implement this stage with the use of stretches like dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches are the use of stretching that emphasizes controlled movements through a full range of motion to gain improvements in movement-specific flexibility. As examples of these stretches are single leg march, gluteus stretches in the walk, forward lunges and side lunges in the walk.

    The general segment often last around 10 minutes, and as I said previously, coaches should look to correct athletes’ inefficiencies at lower speeds before increasing velocities.

Sport specific segment

    It includes the use of movements and activities that are similar in part the sport-specific actions commonly engaged in a game or competition, or training session. It usually lasts around 5-10 minutes in which athletes execute movement at a slow-moderate to moderate-fat intensities. For that reason, this stage will maintain the level of temperature of the body as well as the use of corrective techniques that will prevent athletes from hurting themselves at faster speeds later in the warm up. In this case, a baseball player will start throwing the ball at a close distance. With an increase of throws, players will locate further away and look for precision with a slight increase in velocity as well.

    In the sport specific segment, athletes perform and work on the ABC of running as well. Actions seen at this time are high knees, butt kicks, bouncing, back pedal, karaoke, and side to side shuffle. It is important also, at the last part of the sport specific warm up to include progressive sprints and regressive sprints too. That will allow the transition from this segment to the neural activation phase.

Progressive sprints: Players start to sprint at a slow pace but finish at around 90% of total capacity.

  • Progressive sprints benefits are to increment the change of velocity, strengthen larger distance technique, and maximize full sprint capacity.

Regressive sprint: Players start to sprint at a faster pace, but finish at slow pace.

  • Regressive sprints benefits are to increase the reaction capacity of individual player, improve the technique at the first steps of the race, like the push off, initial extension, and contralateral arm action. It also works to help decreasing the velocity.

Neural activation segment

    This segment is used to increase the intensity of the warm up by utilizing activities that are packed with the phosphagen system, but without depleting the energy saved. It means that coaches should implement this stage with agility sport specific drills, giving athletes a work-rest ratio of 1:4-6 to allow the athlete to perform at great intensity. As example of this segment in baseball would be to allow players to hit five (5) soft balls in a consecutive ways at a faster speed. With an intercalation of three (3) players the activation will have an acceptable recovery. Another example of baseball would be to perform 3-4 reps of players passing the ball quickly and move at the same time like a double play situation. This neuromuscular activation also comes with some jumps and change of directions similar to the core of the session or game. With that in mind, coaches or strength and conditioning coaches need to dominate the core of the session to allow players to perform any drills in the warm up with the appropriate progression of intensities ( from slow-moderate-vigorous intensity) with proper rest of course. This progression is essential because if not measured correctly, athletes can be acquiring some metabolic fatigue.

    As aforementioned, warm ups change for several reason. In this article, I am just specifying between a training session and a competitive event. For a competitive event, scientist use a final step before recovering from the warm up and it is call metabolic preparedness. I call it the metabolic point of the warm up.

    The metabolic point is just used to allow athlete to execute with similar intensities of those from the sport specific action just before the game or event. This stage comes with an elevation of oxygen consumption and the disturbance even more of the homeostasis. Strength coaches should notice and observe players to know when they are working too hard. It is important not to waste energy. This segment usually should not last more five (5) minutes in total.

Cool down

    Here it lands the most frequently mistake made by coaches and strength and conditioning coaches. After spending around 25-30 minutes increasing body temperatures by maximizing the intensities of the activities of the warm up to the athletes, it is important to allow them to cool down. This stage has always had variations. The more common are to send player to dynamically stretch again and to play any fun sport specific game drill. An example of the last one in baseball would be to play a pepper game. In this game, one hitter hits brisk ground balls, around twenty (20) times at slow intensity while other player field his ground balls. Players go switching every twenty (20) repetition. This cool down time should be around 4-5 minutes to prevent athletes from losing the benefits of the warm up. The idea of this cool down is to lower the heart rate, so activities should not exceed 60% of athletes’ heart rate.

    The warm up is an important part of our training and it should not be forgotten to implement it with motivation, discipline and attractiveness. Even though, it seems easy, a lot of coaches mistake this part of the session that we may discuss in the most important. I hope this article has served to provide the readers with knowledge about the sport science world.


Another articles in English


EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital · Año 21 · N° 216 | Buenos Aires, Mayo de 2016  
Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes - ISSN 1514-3465 - © 1997-2016 Derechos reservados