The Different Types of Warm Ups

By Albert Tan

One of the frequently asked questions that I get is “Do we really need to warm up?” and I often reply in a question asking why not. It is easy to overlook the importance of warming up before training as many see it as something trivial. Some of you might be doing it as an exercise routine every day but does not realise that is a type of warm up. In this article, I will share with you some of the warm ups that you can perform during your training session.


Why is warming up important?

Warm up if done right would eventually lead to better performance and reduce injury. During warm up, the heart rate and the breathing will increase, and promotes blood flow and heat to the muscles which then enable increased in range of motion when couple with proper stretching. This would prepare the body for vigorous activity with higher efficiency. 


Types of Warm Up
It is inappropriate to assume that the same warm up routine you perform every day will be good enough for different types of training. The warm up must match the level of preparation to the intended effort. So how long should you warm up? The duration may range from as short as 5 minutes up to 30 minutes. The faster pace or high intense your run will be, the longer the warm up session. Here’s a few types of warm up that you can perform for the different types of training.

Long, easy and tempo run
This is the run people do for their everyday run whether it is a long or short duration run. I would include the tempo run under this category as well as both the runs do not require much warm up. When you start running, start out easy and slowly increase your running speed until you reach your normal running pace. It should take about 5 to 10 minutes.

If you are doing long run early in the morning, start with walking and then switch to brisk walking. When you feel warm and the muscle is ready for workout, turn to jogging mode and start running. You can wear a running jacket if you feel cold in the morning.

Speed workout and interval run

The speed workout and interval run is a rigorous type and is usually hard. Hence, more time for warm up is needed. This will include workout like hill sprinting and circuit. In order to prepare yourself for such training, you should perform warm up that is close to the targeted pace or speed in a short and repeated manner. This will provide oxygen and nutrition to the blood as well as heat to get the muscles ready to work.


Start with a 10 to 15 minute jog at an easy pace followed by dynamic stretching and drills such as walking lunges, high knee running, butt kicks, pull through, bounding and leg swing. Then perform 4 to 6 repetitions of 60-meter to 80-meter strides. Static stretches that target the front (quadriceps) and back (hamstring) thigh, calf, hip flexor, butt (gluteus), upper back, and shoulders are allowed but to a minimum repetition of one for each with the duration of 8-10 seconds.


Treadmill running

 A warm up for treadmill running? Well, yes. Though running on treadmill would have less impact on the legs compared to running on hard surface, it can be hard on your calves and Achilles especially if you are new and planning to do high speed running or long run.  A proper warm up may help reduce the risk of injuries.


There is other equipment available in gym that allows you to perform warm up. You can start with a 10 minute cycle on a stationary bike or elliptical machine followed by calves and legs stretch. If you perform stretching regularly as a routine, then you can start by doing a slow easy run for 5 to 10 minutes.


Race or competition day

What about on the race day? It will be slightly different and timing is important as well especially when you do not start right after warm up. Most runners will only start warming up after they have reported themselves at the counter (most races nowadays do not need runners to report), clear their bowel, or waiting for friends to arrive.


But there’s a so called “dead time” in between after you’ve warmed up and while waiting in the starting zone for VIP to arrive and launch the race. Organizers would normally call upon runners to enter the fenced starting zone half an hour before the race start and it will be crowded with people and it’ll be hard to move around. The body will start to cool down and you will struggle by the time the race starts.


Begin with an easy jog and then easy run for a total of 10 minutes about half an hour before the race starts. Then perform some light dynamic stretches followed by a few 20 to 30 meters strides. Since there will be a timing chip for every runner, it is not an issue whether you start the race at the front, middle or back as you would have your individual timing.


If you are an intermediate runner who wish to start somewhere at the front, do ask politely from the crowd as you move your way to the front. No one will be angry at you as the elite or fast runners should always be at the front in order to avoid pushing and unwanted injuries. If you know you are a slow runner, it is advisable that you start at the back and give way to the fast runners. 




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