Warm Up, Edexcel A2 PE

The different stages of a warm up and the physiological and psychological value to a warm up, types of stretching and the consideration of intensity and duration.


Objectives of a Warm Up

- Prepare body physiologically

- Prepare body mentally

- Improve performance (by putting body into optimum state)

- Reduce risk of injury

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Stages of a Warm Up

1. Gross Motor/ Pulse Raiser

The gross motor stage is important as it raises body temperature of the core and specific muscles, and increases heart rate. It is a gradual and controlled phase, introducing activity stress gently. Gross motor activity is where the athlete moves large parts of the body to raise their pulse and also induces many physiological responses that are very important in the preparation of exercise.

2. Mobiliy Exercise/ Injury Prevention

This stage is also known as ‘injury prevention’ as it focuses on stretching, so therefore increasing flexibility and localised muscle elasticity. There are 6 types of stretching; static, active, passive, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), dynamic and ballistic. 

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Stages of a Warm Up

3. Skill- Related Element

Involves a skill-related component where the neuromuscular mechanisms related to activity are worked. e.g. yumble-turns in swimming

4. Sport Specific

Sometimes included with the previous stage, but includes practising skills and exertions similarly to how they will be experienced in a game situation. e.g. Swimming to wall, tumble-turning, then swim out  15 metres.

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Physiological Value to a Warm Up

These are SHORT TERM RESPONSES. This means they are occur quickly but are only temporary.

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased stroke volume
  • Increased venous return
  • Increased temperature in both localised areas and in the body’s core
  • Greater ATP conversion. Greater ATP conversion means that all three of the energy systems will be more efficient as they are able to generate ATP more capably when heat is present
  • Enhanced glycolytic enzyme action as high temperatures increase kinetic energy meaning they work even faster without denaturing
  • Lowered blood viscosity producing better blood flow. A greater blood flow means vascular shunting can occur more rapidly, supplying the working muscles with oxygen and taking away waste products such as CO2
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Physiological Value to a Warm Up

  • There is an increased volume of air breathed per minute (VE), which increases the amount of oxygen available and allows a faster expiration of waste products.
  • The capillaries dilate allowing more oxygen to be delivered into the muscles
  • Blood pressure increases so blood is forced to move more rapidly from the heart through the arteries
  • The speed of nerve impulses are quickened, increasing reaction time as the message from the brain can get to the muscles faster. 
  • Increased readily release of oxygen from haemoglobin
  • Cardiac output increases resulting in more oxygenated blood being delivered to the muscles more quickly. 
  • Adrenaline is released which increases metabolic rate which is the normal rate that energy is produced by the entire body.
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Psychological Value to a Warm Up

Although it is vital that all the physiological responses occur from a warm up, it is equally valuable to have the correct psychological mind set prior to exercise. Warms have psychological benefits including;

  • Warms up are a mental rehearsal of specific skills expected in the activity later to come
  • Neuromuscular coordination is improved
  • Arousal is increased after a warm up which has a relationship with performance
  • Arousal enhances the athletes awareness of their environment and goals
  • A warm up aids in building self-efficacy which is defined as ‘our ability to succeed in certain situations’
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Types of Stretching

Static Stretching

Performer stretches muscle to a safe limit and then holds that position for up to 30 seconds, relaxes and repeats. Thought to be the safest way to strech but its not very sport-specific.

Dynamic Stretching

Consists of controlled movements taking the joint through its full range of movement. More sport-specific than static stretching. The muscle and joint must be warm prior to doing dynmaic stretching. Examples are: slow controlled leg swings, arm swings and torso twists.

Ballistic Stretching

Involves movment using momentum or bouncing where you take musce to near its limit and stretch it further. It is rarely recommended due to its injury risk but it's very sport-specific so a combination of other methods of stretching should be used prior to ballistic stretching. 

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Types of Stretching

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

An advanced form of flexibility stretching rather than a method of warming up. Involves passive stretching followed by isometric contractions of the target muscle. Increases flexibility and muscular strength.

Passive Stretching

Using other body parts, a partner or apparatus to hold a stretch position in place.

Active Stretching

Actively stretch the muscle yourself, e.g. stretching your legs out in front of you and leaning towards them means you are being active. If you relax and allow a partner to push you body towards you legs, you are being passive. 

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Intensity and Duration

Athlete must work at intensity that'll lead to all the desired responses needed for optimum performance in a specific event.

Duration should not be set in minutes, but in objectives. Once the four objectives (described ealier) have been successfully acheived, the warm up is complete.

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