Everyone knows you should warm up prior to exercise, but very few people actually bother. Turns out, that could be a real mistake: a new study suggests that warming up actually increases the maximum power a muscle can provide during exercise, as opposed to just shortening the time required to reach maximum output.
The study, carried out at La Trobe's School of Physiotherapy, tested out the effect of warm-up exercises on 22 elite athletes. What they found is a little surprising: some warm-up exercises actually increase the maximum explosive power a muscle can provide during the subsequent workout. Essentially, that's extra performance for little extra effort. Justin Crow, one of the researchers, explains to Medical Express:
"A warm-up protocol involving low load exercises targeting the gluteal muscles is effective at acutely enhancing explosive power output in the lower limbs. Coaches may consider this protocol when preparing athletes for competition or training in sports involving explosive lower limb movements such as jumping, sprinting, and some weightlifting movements."
In fact, Crow suggests that some simple none-weight bearing warm-ups can help any athlete's performance. While it's not been established exactly why such warm-ups increase maximum strength, it's known that such exercises do affect the metabolism of muscles. And, at any rate, there's a whole heap of evidence to show that they reduce injury — so get stretching. [Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research via Medical Express]
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