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A proper warm up before going for a run sounds like a good idea. How long should the warm up be and at what effort level? We want to warm up our muscles and increase our range of motion without compromising our performance. Many studies have looked into different aspects of the warm up and recorded various physiological responses, but few studies have focused on achieving optimal performance. We will take a closer look at two studies that came to roughly the same conclusion about the structure of an optimal warm up for peak performance.
Both studies found the sweet spot for a warm up was ~15 minutes at 60% effort would lead to optimal performance. Deviating from this and warming up significantly by moving at a slower  pace showed no advantages. Attempting to warm up at faster at more than a 70% effort caused a 9-16% drop performance. The 1998 study “The effect of warm-up intensity on range of motion and anaerobic performance” found a 6% boost in aerobic performance and a 7% increase in anaerobic performance.
The unfortunate participants in these studies were on a treadmill with a rectal thermocouple in place to measure their core temperature. Skin temperature was also monitored. Within 5-10 minute of warm up the muscles had reached their ideal operating temperature. The core body temperature was much slower to rise taking 30 minutes to reach peak temperature. Several studies have looked into tested stetching and passive forms of warming up (hot baths, saunas and heating pads). The most effective form of warm up seems to be a lower effort version for the activity your are about to embark on. Runners would start with a fast walk and move into a jog over 15 minutes.
  1. (1998) The effect of warm-up intensity on range of motion and anaerobic performance – https://www.jospt.org/doi/pdf/10.2519/jospt.1998.27.2.154
  2. (2003) – Warm Up II – Performance Changes Following Active Warm Up and How to Structure the Warm Up –https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10746532_Warm_up_II_-_Performance_changes_following_active_warm_up_and_how_to_structure_the_warm_up