Your next performance breakthrough may only be a new warm-up away. According to research published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, a warm up routine incorporating squats and a whole body vibrator machine can increase your sprint performance by 6%.
No whole body vibration machine? Don’t give up yet. No matter your sport, a very good warm-up has a few distinct parts.
Follow this three-step program adapted from the research of Andrea Fradkin, Ph.D., a professor at Bloomberg University. Golfers who followed Fradkin’s protocol increased their stroke speed by up to 24 percent over 7 weeks.
2 Minutes: Aerobic Activity
The first part of your routine should be an aerobic exercise that targets the muscles you’ll be using and doubles as a dynamic stretch. This will raise your body temperature, which makes it easier for oxygen to enter your muscles, says Fradkin. A minute or two of walking lunges works—just don’t overdo it. A 2011 at the University of Calgary showed that cyclists who performed a long and intense warmup lasting 50 minutes with intervals up to 95 percent of maximal heart rate put out 6.5 percent less power than when they stuck to a short, 15-minute routine at a low intensity ending in only a single sprint.
3 Minutes: Stretch
IWS athletic trainers address this question daily: Which is better: static stretches—the kind you hold —or dynamic stretches, where you quickly move through a stretch? Recent studies had favored dynamic stretches best Fradkin’s research showed that a combination of the two is ideal. For sports like cycling and running, dynamic stretching improves power and flexibility while static stretching can help your posture and position on the bike And don’t be worried about putting a damper on your explosive power with static stretching. A 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that static stretches lasting in the 30-second range had no detrimental effect on performance.
1 Minute: Take a Practice Swing
The last part of your warmup should “incorporate activities equivalent to those that will be used in ensuing performance,” says Fradkin. If you’re heading into the gym to work on your bench press, do some reps without any weight—and perfect form. The goal is to prime your brain-body connection to make the movements feel natural while keeping your body warm. For skill-based sports, visualize yourself scoring that goal. According to researchers at the University of Chicago, people who imagined themselves sinking free-throws—without shooting the ball—showed a 23 percent improvement in shots made when they were retested.
A proper warm up – particularly now that colder weather is setting in – can not only help you avoid injuries but aid performance so arrive early, and get your mind and body ready to compete!