The warm up is designed to elevate body temperature, improve blood flow to the muscles, increase body awareness, stimulate the nervous system, create greater range of motion in the muscles needed for the training session and decrease the risk of injury. The nervous system and musculoskeletal system that generate force are activated more rapidly to generate force with a proper warm up protocol.
Besides preparing the body for the upcoming workout, the warm up can improve the athletic qualities needed in track and field such as strength, speed, endurance, flexibility and coordination.
Event specific exercises should be included in the warm up routine to reinforce the skills needed in a particular event area.
Warm Up Progression
The warm up routine will start with total body movements and progress to event specific activities. The initial exercises in the warm up are controlled low intensity movements focusing on flexibility and proper mechanics with short rest periods. As the warm up progresses, higher intensity exercises with more dynamic movements are performed to increase the body’s range of motion and stimulate the nervous system in preparation for the training session. Dynamic sprint drills with varying intensity and motion will increase body awareness and improve the physical qualities needed for training.
Track and Field Warm Up
The most common general warm up for track and field athletes include an active warm up followed by more dynamic exercises. Besides running type movements jumps, medicine ball throws, jump/throw combinations, hurdle mobility, calisthenics and bodyweight exercises can be included into the warm up routine.
In track and field, speed and power athletes will include more explosive exercises near the end of the warm up routine that stimulate the nervous system for activity or exercises that are event specific. Distance runners often use active warm up exercises to warm up before or after an easy run to develop strength, speed, coordination and flexibility.
Active Warm Up
Athletes start with active flexibility movements and low intensity dynamic exercises at a slow rate of speed focusing on good mechanics. Approximately 5-10 exercises at 20-40 meters each with little to no rest between movements are completed during the active phase of the warm up.
Dynamic Warm Up
After the active flexibility exercises are completed, the warm up will increase in intensity with more dynamic movements. The dynamic phase of the warm up will consist of 5-10 exercises at 20-40 meters each with varying rest periods from 30 seconds to two minutes.