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Why You Should Incorporate a Dynamic Warm-Up to Your Workout

Updated on February 18, 2014

This is the first part of my three part series on dynamic warm-ups. You can check out part two, lower body warm-up, here. You can check out part three, upper body warm-up, here.

Figure 1

The "dipping bird" or a dynamic hamstring stretch.
The "dipping bird" or a dynamic hamstring stretch. | Source
Static hamstring stretch.
Static hamstring stretch. | Source

A dynamic warm-up is one that activates the muscle and prepares the body for an activity. While many people and athletic programs incorporate a dynamic warm-up in their pre-exercise routine, a startling number still static stretch prior to activity. Through this article I will use the example of running.

  • A dynamic warm-up involves moving the joint(s) through a Range of Motion (ROM). An example would be butt-kicks or high knees. (Figure 1 first photo)
  • A static stretch involves singling out a muscle or muscle group, taking it to the end ROM and holding the position. An example would be a standing hamstring stretch. (Figure 1 second photo)
  • A proper dynamic warm-up stimulates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system prior to activity.
  • A study by Nosaka et al. demonstrated the the actual muscle temperature does not contribute the the beneficial effects of a warm-up.

What do you do?

How do you warm-up before you exercise?

See results

Why Dynamic and Not Static?

As a healthcare professional who specializes in sports medicine I often here the question "why should I static/dynamic stretch? I've heard the dynamic/static stretching is better." The rule of thumb in most cases the athlete receives the most benefit from a dynamic warm-up. There are exceptions to this rule, however. A gymnast or dance might incorporate static stretching because their movements require them to hold a position at the end ROM i.e. the splits or scorpion.

The Research

As previously mentioned Nosaka et al. performed a study that investigated the role of the muscle temperature in a warm-up. Conventional wisdom would suggest that warm muscles means better flexibility. This research proves conventional wisdom wrong.

The study took 20 female athletes that were divided into two groups of ten. One group received an icing treatment while the other received a short wave diathermy treatment (form of deep muscle heating). While all measures of testing changed significantly (P < .01) after exercise, most variables did not change significantly (P > .05) when compared to the control results. This study shows that the benefits of a warm-up are unrelated to the temperature of the muscle.

A separate by Faigenbaum et al. determined that a dynamic warm-up with a 2% body mass weight vest improved anaerobic performance.

Little et al. looked at the effect static and dynamic stretching had on professional soccer players. Overall, the study found that static stretching does not prove detrimental when included in a warm-up. The authors do conclude the article by stating that a dynamic warm-up was the most effective in preparation of high-speed activity.

Pagaduan et al. performed a study with football players and the effect a warm-up had on jump cutting. The results showed that a general warm-up and a dynamic warm-up posted the greatest gains compared to all other interventions. The results also demonstrated that static stretching and no warm-up produced the least gains.

6 Key Areas of a Dynamic Warm-Up

These are the six general areas of a dynamic area. Arms are included in Area 5.
These are the six general areas of a dynamic area. Arms are included in Area 5.

The Facts

  1. Static stretching is not detrimental to performance but, a dynamic warm-up is better.
  2. A dynamic warm-up with 2% body mass weight vest improves anaerobic performance.
  3. Muscle temperature is not the main factor in the efficacy of the warm-up.

Related Articles

Looking for an example of a lower body dynamic warm-up? Click here to check out my newest article.

Ever wonder how to tailor your nutrition to your running and race schedule? Check out this article on endurance athlete nutrition.

The upper body dynamic warm up is coming soon!

To Summarize

Overall, the research shows that, with few exceptions, a dynamic warm-up not only readies the body for activity, but also can improve performance in many instances. Muscle temperature is not the major factor to the warm-up, but rather it is more of the neurologic awakening of the musculoskeletal system.

Static stretching is still an important part of the cool down. Static stretching helps with the recovery process and helps to reduce the aches and pains of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).


Faigenbaum, A. D., McFarland, J. E., Schwerdtman, J. A., Ratamess, N. A., Kang, J., & Hoffman, J. R. (2006). Dynamic Warm-Up Protocols, With and Without a Weighted Vest, and Fitness Performance in High School Female Athletes. Journal of Athletic Training , 41 (4), 357-363.

Little, T., & Williams, A. G. (2006). Effect of various warm-up protocols on jump performance in college football players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 20 (1), 203-207.

Nosaka, K., Sakamoto, K., Newton, M., & Sacco, P. (2004). Influence of Pre-Exercise Muscle Temperature on Responses to Eccentric Exercise. Journal of Athletic Training , 39 (2), 132-137.

Pagaduan, J. C., Pojskic, H., Uzicanin, E., & Babajic, F. (2012). Effect of various warm-up protocols on jump performance in college football players. Journal of Human Kinetics , 35, 127-132.

Perrier, E. T., Pavol, M. J., & Hoffman, M. A. (2011). The acute effects of a warm-up including static or dynamic stretching on countermovement jump height, reaction time, and flexibility. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 25 (7), 1925-1931.

Samson, M., Button, D. C., Chaouachi, A., & Behm, D. G. (2012). Effects of Dynamic and Static Stretching Within General and Activity Specific Warm-Up Protocols. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine , 11 (2), 279-285.

© 2013 Trainer Joe


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