Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Need For A Long Warm Up In The Heat

Consider the following scenario. Current temperature is 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and 95% humidity just before the start of the race. You see many people warming up by running ahead of the start line, some doing striding while others are mentally rehearsing for the race. Being nervous, you proceed to do the same, running to warm up as well. Then you notice someone just chilling by the side waiting for the announcer to ask the starter to give the go ahead for the race to begin. When the call comes, this guy just stands up, takes his place and starts with the rest when the gun goes. Later you find out this same guy wins the race easily and you go - hey wait a minute, this guy didn't even warm up, he just showed and ran and won the race. Am I doing something wrong here, Did I warm up too much?

Research actually shows that too much warm up before your race can hurt your performance especially so in hot and humid conditions. Consider the following study. The subjects in the study performed the test after no warm up, 10-min or 20-min warm up in hot conditions (35 deg celsius). Plasma lactate (lactic acid levels) was significantly higher after active warm up. The longer active warm up resulted in a greater increase in temperature and was associated with a decrease in performance in the heat. The researchers showed that a long warm up in hot weather is more likely to diminish performance than improve it.

Ever encountered similar weather conditions while racing? This is very common in Singapore, especially the humidity. And this is the problem, it's not the heat, it's the humidity. Moist air slows down your body's ability to cool itself through sweat, so even though you sweat a lot, it is not evaporated since the air is too moist.

Well, now you know there's no need for a long warm up in the heat. It's nice when there is research to back up your common-sense feelings. So it's okay to chill.


Bishop, D and Maxwell, NS (2009). Effects of Active Warm up on Thermoregulation and Intermittent-sprint Performance in Hot Conditions.J Sci Med Sport Jan;12(1):196-204.

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