Dynamic Warm-up, Static Stretching and Post-activation Potentiation [PODCAST]

I have an expression for myself and my athletes. “Do whatever you have to do to get ready for your race”.

When that gun goes off, you want both muscle and nerve fibers ready to fire at 100%.

So in terms of a timeline, the activity before the race is called a “warm up”.  Afterwards, it’s called the “cool down”.

But all “warm up activities” are not created equal.

James Zois

In terms of warming up, you should always emulate the activity you are about to do. So to sprint fast, you have to physically copy sprinting fast in the warm up.

So for this article, I had a chance to speak to James Zois from the School of Sport & Exercise Science at Victoria University, in Melbourne, Australia.  You can go directly to the podcast below.

Confusing Terminology

There is a lot of confusing terminology and conflicting research with the following terms:

the warm up, dynamic warm up, static stretching, dynamic stretching, and Post-activation Potentiation (PAP)

Should athletes be doing a central nervous system stimulation (CNS) type stimulation activity for greater motor unit recruitment? If so, how long before the event?  We’ve all heard about the Ben Johnson story where he reportedly did max squats before his 9.79 in Seoul.  (This cannot be true as there were no weights in the warm-up area of the Olympic Stadium!)

If I had a chance to rename some terminology, it would be checking = stretching, because basically you are checking to see if the muscle length is at the optimal length.

Range of Motion exercises = Dynamic stretching or warm up.   Again, you are getting the muscle length to their their optimal state.

I don’t like to confuse “Range of Motion exercises” with the term “drills” as drills are simply repetitive cues to achieve one or two pointers for actual race day.

Some Q&A

I won’t bother typing out a transcript of our call, but here are some of the questions to ponder on this topic.

  1. What are the implications for static stretching for speed and power events?
  2. Is static stretching worse than no warm up at all?
  3. Can static stretching with dynamic drills basically negate the effects of the warm up?
  4. For athletes doing multi events on a day, what kind of warm up is required before each race?
  5. You always see Elite athletes having a massage before a race, or at least you’ll see them on a massage table with a therapist doing something.  Is that beneficial or just plain spoiled?
  6. Is there a difference between active warm-up and passive warm-ups to increase muscle & core temperature?
  7. Why is Dynamic stretching more beneficial in a warm up? (i.e. Increased blood flow helps bring more Oxygen to the desired areas **or** Power output)
  8. Why are people still static stretching? Where did that come from?
  9. How important is Post-activation Potentiation (PAP) in the warm-up in terms of getting the best performance of the athlete?

Interview with James Zois

Presenter: Jimson Lee with James Zois
Broadcast Date: Feb 16, 2012
Duration: 16:28
File Size: 15.4 Mb

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • Hello Jimson, hope all is well with you.

    I would like to get your opinion…..do you think there is any benefit for doing during your warm up iso/elastic band movements? There are basically 5 in mind; standing calf raises, standing leg extentions (w/o knee lock), kickbacks, abductor & adductor movements. They would be done for a maximum of 2 sets being held for ~10-15 seconds.

    And thanks for your continued work!!

    • @Fred, those exercises look good, as some of them emulates the running and sprinting motion. As long as there is enough explosive forces, it will be a good stimulus for PAP. Like James mentioned in the podcast, the warm-up is for raising the core temperature. What you do afterwards is “event specific”.