Journal of Applied Physiology

Less is More: Standard Warm-up Causes Fatigue and Less Warm-up Permits Greater Cycling Power Output

Elias K. Tomaras, Brian R. MacIntosh


The traditional warm-up (WU) athletes use to prepare for a sprint track cycling event involves a general WU followed by a series of brief sprints lasting at least 50 min in total. A WU of this duration and intensity could cause significant fatigue and impair subsequent performance. The purpose of this research was to compare a traditional WU to an experimental WU and examine the consequences of these on the 30 s Wingate test and electrically elicited twitch contractions. The traditional WU began with 20 min of cycling with a gradual intensity increase from 60% to 95% of maximal heart rate (HRmax). Following this, there were 4 sprints at 8 min intervals. The experimental WU was shorter with less high intensity exercise. Intensity increased from 60% to 70% HRmax over 15 min, and this was followed with just 1 sprint. The Wingate test was conducted with a 1 min lead-in at 80% of optimal cadence (OC), followed by a Wingate test at OC. Peak active twitch torque, after the traditional WU (86.5 ± 3.3 %) was significantly lower (p<0.05) than that after experimental WU (94.6 ± 2.4 %) when expressed as % of preWU amplitude. Wingate performance after experimental WU (PPO=1390 ± 80 W; Work=29.1 ± 1.2 kJ) was significantly better (p<0.01) than after traditional WU (PPO=1303 ± 89 W; Work=27.7 ± 1.2 kJ). The traditional track cyclists' WU results in significant fatigue which corresponds with impaired peak power output. A shorter and lower intensity WU permits a better performance.

  • Muscle fatigue
  • postactivation potentiation
  • human performance
  • optimal cadence