Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When warming up for the cycling race, less is more

Date:
June 16, 2011
Source:
American Physiological Society
Summary:
New findings challenge conventional wisdom and find shorter warm-ups of lower intensity are better for boosting cycling performance.

Coaches, physiologists and athletes alike will attest to the importance of warming up before athletic competition. Warming up increases muscle temperature, accelerates oxygen uptake kinetics and increases anaerobic metabolism, all of which enhance performance. However, the question of how long and strenuous a warm-up should be is more contentious, with some in the sports community advocating longer warm-ups and others espousing shorter ones. Now researchers at the University of Calgary Human Performance Laboratory in Calgary, Alberta, Canada have found evidence indicating that less is more.

Related Articles


In a study comparing the effects of a traditional, intense warm-up with those of a shorter, less strenuous warm-up on the performance of 10 highly trained track cyclists, the researchers found that the shorter warm-up produced less muscle fatigue yet more peak power output. The findings are published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The study was conducted by Elias K. Tomaras and Brian R. MacIntosh.

The Long and Short of It

The intensity of traditional, longer warm-ups has been thought to offer competitive athletes an edge by promoting a process called post-activation potentiation (PAP). In PAP, brief bouts of strenuous physical activity produce a biochemical change in muscle cells that can enhance muscle contractile response. The phenomenon usually lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. However, as the researchers note, fatigue can decrease muscle contractile response. Therefore, the team focused analysis on muscle contractile response as well as on another key component of a cyclist's success, peak power output.

In the study, cyclists participated in two warm-ups. A longer, traditional warm-up began with 20 minutes of cycling that gradually increased in intensity until the cyclists reached 95 percent of their maximal heart rates. This general warm-up was followed by four sprints at 8-minute intervals. The entire warm-up lasted approximately 50 minutes total. The shorter, experimental warm-up included a shorter initial ride that increased in intensity until the cyclists reached only 70 percent of their maximal heart rates. This warm-up ended with only one sprint and lasted approximately 15 minutes.

The researchers used specific tests to measure the cyclists' muscle contractile response and peak power output before, during and after the warm-ups. Although they theorized that both warm-ups would elicit PAP, they also theorized that the traditional warm-up would generate enough fatigue to counteract PAP, whereas the experimental warm-up might not. They found that although muscle contractile response decreased more after the traditional warm-up, indicating greater fatigue, there was a decrease in contractile response after both warm-ups. This, according to Tomaras, a co-author, "indicates that an even shorter warm-up might be better for athletes who want to tap into PAP."

The shorter warm-up permitted better performance, as well. Peak power output was 6.2 percent higher and total work was 5 percent higher after the experimental warm-up than after the traditional warm-up, results the researchers say are significant, and could make a substantial difference in competitive events.

Implications

The fitness community has embraced PAP as a competitive strategy in recent years. As word spreads about PAP's benefits, trainers and coaches have attempted to time PAP to coincide with competition. But the Calgary team's findings suggest too much focus on promoting PAP could be self-defeating, as starting the process requires intense, but tiring, bursts of activity. In their conclusion, the researchers write, "A warm-up that is performed at too high of an intensity for longer than necessary can result in fatigue and impair subsequent athletic performance."

Instead, according to co-researcher MacIntosh, "the findings suggest that competitive athletes may reap greater rewards from PAP by engaging in less strenuous warm-up than conventional wisdom dictates. A better approach would be to aim for just enough activity to promote PAP without creating fatigue."

This may be especially true for sprint athletes (cyclists, relay runners, track sprinters, swimmers), whose competition involves several events close together. The researchers conclude, "If warm-up results in fatigue of an athlete and impairs performance in a single subsequent bout of exercise, what impact would it have on multiple performances required on the same day?"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. K. Tomaras, B. R. MacIntosh. Less is more: standard warm-up causes fatigue and less warm-up permits greater cycling power output. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2011; 111 (1): 228 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00253.2011

Cite This Page:

American Physiological Society. "When warming up for the cycling race, less is more." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616113014.htm>.
American Physiological Society. (2011, June 16). When warming up for the cycling race, less is more. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616113014.htm
American Physiological Society. "When warming up for the cycling race, less is more." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616113014.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Long Warm-Ups for Track and Field Can Sabotage Race Performance

May 27, 2011 Low intensity warm-ups enhance athletic ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins