How Should You Warm Up For Sports?

How To Do a Warm Up For Sports

Warming up for sports is somewhat of a Pandora's Box - there are 100's of theories!

We often see people and teams warming up incorrectly for their sport, and it can occasionally end in injury, pain or decreased performance.

There is so many different theories as to what is the best way to warm up for your particular sport, and it is easy to be confused an overwhelmed.

As experts in movement, health and performance, we can help you with the right principles to apply to your warm up, for your specific sport.

You want to think about a warm up for sports in 3 specific steps - generic warm ups, dynamic warm ups, and then specific skills.

It’s really important that we go through the process in that order, so that your body gets prepared for the movements that you wanted to do.

At the end of the day, that is what a warm up is all about - getting your body ready to do what you wanted to do, so that you can perform at your best.

There’s no point doing redundant drills or wasting time - why do so many professionals recommend movements or exercises that have nothing to do with what we want the outcome to be?


1. General Warm Up

You want to warm up generally.

It’s as simple as going for a quick jog around the oval, or jumping on a bike or rower - just enough to get you hot and sweaty.

It could be doing burpees (but that sounds horrible!), or skipping, running, walking - whatever.

We just need to get some blood flowing!


2. Dynamic Warm Up

For part 2, we want to be doing some dynamic movements and stretches - high knees, butt kicks, side skipping, fast feet, arm swings, hamstring swings - those types of things.

Dynamic stretches should also be getting a little more specific to what we want to do, and you can begin to incorporate movements that are relevant to your sport.

If you are doing a cycling event, you might want to jump on your bike and doing some intervals (you might do some 30 second intervals).

If you are playing rugby league, you want to be doing some shuttle runs and some up-downs and things like that - getting prepared for the movements that you want to do (sideways, forward, backwards, up and down - whatever it is that you need to do).


3. Sports Specific Warm Up

It’s really important that you incorporate sports specific drills into your warm up, because not only does it prepare your core body temperature and your muscles for the movements that you want them to do, but it gets your brain and your nervous system engaged as well!

 It’s super important that your Central Nervous System is practising and rehearsing the skills that you needed to do.

That might be some passing drills, some tackling drills, or other techniques - replicating the movements that you’re going to be doing, so that when it comes to game time it’s all just second nature!


Optional Extra Warm Ups

Like we’ve written about previously, when it comes to static versus dynamic stretching, there’s one extra little optional caveat that we want to throw in.  

There is a lot of conflicting opinions about the benefits and/or potentially negative effects of static stretches. 

On top of the above three parts, you want to make room for personal, individual warm ups.

We know that some of the most successful athletes have their specific things that they like to do.

They’ve got a certain routine of stretches they like to do, they like to joke around, some people like to they do a prayer huddle, whatever it is that they define for themselves as a personalised ritual.

These personal routines are super important to warming up because it means that your whole self - your mind, your emotions, and your physical body - is prepared for exactly what you want to do.

That is how we elicit peak performance.

Peak performance comes when you holistically are in exactly the right state of mind to perform at your best.


How Long Should A Warm Up Be?

Another thing to consider is duration.

A general rule of thumb is: the longer duration of your event, you don’t need a massively long warm up.

Conversely the shorter the event, the longer and more drawn out your warm up needs to be.

If you are a crossfitter with a 6 minute AMRAP - long, drawn out warm up (20-30 mins).

If you are a triathlete, a shorter warmup will suffice (15-20 mins).



The three phases to warm ups:

  • The generic warm up
  • The specific warm up
  • Sports specific drills.

You also want to include:

  • Your optional extras
  • A duration that's inversely proportional to the sport you’re about to do.

If you’ve got something specific about your sport and about your particular situation with your body, please get in touch and we'd be happy to assist!