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Structuring Your Warm Up

Many people, through a lack of time or education, don’t complete a thorough warm up before participating in sport or exercise. A thorough warm up should prepare the body for exercise through increasing the body’s temperature, mobilising your joints and activating the muscles.

A well structured warm up should follow the RAMP protocol to gradually increase the intensity the body is working at before starting your sport. The RAMP protocol is as follows:

R – Raise

The first aspect of a warm up should be a pulse raiser. Most often this is a light jog or skip, normally in the form of shuttle runs or laps around the court or a section of the pitch you are using. If you are in the gym, any cardio machine can be used to perform a pulse raiser, for example, a treadmill, cross trainer or static bike. If you are focussing on a specific muscle group in your gym work out, you can use machine with an upper or lower limb bias to help make your warm up more specific to your workout. Examples include using a step machine as your pulse raiser before a lower body session and a rowing machine before an upper body work out.

This stage of the warm up is aiming to increase the body temperature, blood flow and joint viscosity and to generally mobilise the body. Whichever form of pulse raiser you choose should remain at a light intensity (around 50-60% effort) and should take around 5 minutes.

AM – Activate and Mobilise

The next stage of the warm up is the activation and mobilisation phase. These are important as they get the required muscles firing as they should and works the joints through the full range of motion. These aspects are massively important in the prevention of injuries but are commonly performed incorrectly or are left out completely. A good activation and mobilisation phase should be dynamic and aim to keep the pulse raised as so not to revert the body back to a resting state.

Most commonly, muscle activation is achieved through routines that use a resistance band as well as the use of dynamic stretches. Examples of lower body exercises that can be performed in this stage include monster walks, A and B skips, squats and pogo hops. Upper body examples include shoulder rotations, arm pulses and banded movements. It is important to note any stretches done at this stage should be dynamic and not static – they should not be held for periods of time as this has the opposite effect than what is required in a warm up (see our previous blog post for more detail on the difference between the types of stretching).

The mobilisation aspect of the warm up, while remaining dynamic can be performed at a slower pace to ensure you work the joint through their full range of motion. Below is a list of movements that can be performed to mobilise the body:

  • Inch worms

  • Scapular press up

  • Open/close the gate

  • Shoo the chickens

  • Leg swings

  • Arm swings

  • Thread the needle

This phase can take anywhere between 5-15 minutes, but the main focus is to work the full body adequately for the sport or exercise in which you are about to partake.

P – Performance/Potentiate

The final phase of your warm up is the performance phase. This aims to increase the intensity to a similar level of which you are about to participate. It also enables you to maximise on the activation phase that you have just completed, as well as move your body through more sport specific movements. In team sports, this is often achieved through game play scenarios, e.g. half court games in netball, defensive drills for football or block starts for sprinters. In the gym, this can involve performing more plyometric activities, such as box jumps, medicine ball throw and catch or kettlebell swings.

Not only does this phase enable you to fine tune any specific movements and perfect techniques, it also prepares you mentally for the activity. It can allow you perform these movements and actions while also having the distraction of external cues – the other team or other people in the space around you, the crowd watching or more environmental factors, such as wind or rain. Not having this preparation can also lead to injury as you may struggle to process all this information at once; having the time to get used to this in a more controlled environment is beneficial to performance in sport.

Following the RAMP protocol enables you to gradually but thoroughly prepare your body for sport or exercise, minimising the risk of injury and increasing your performance level within your chosen activity.

If you would like help coming up with a warm up specifically for your training, call us on 0117 329 2090 or book an Initial Assessment online where we can make a bespoke plan for you alongside aid in your injury prevention.

By Pip Dickin

May 2023

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