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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Jul;111(1):228-35. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00253.2011. Epub 2011 May 5.

Less is more: standard warm-up causes fatigue and less warm-up permits greater cycling power output.

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  • 1Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.


The traditional warm-up (WU) used by athletes to prepare for a sprint track cycling event involves a general WU followed by a series of brief sprints lasting ≥ 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 with an experimental WU and examine the consequences of traditional and experimental WU 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; then four sprints were performed at 8-min intervals. The experimental WU was shorter with less high-intensity exercise: intensity increased from 60% to 70% of maximal heart rate over 15 min; then just one sprint was performed. The Wingate test was conducted with a 1-min lead-in at 80% of optimal cadence followed by a Wingate test at optimal cadence. Peak active twitch torque was significantly lower after the traditional than experimental WU (86.5 ± 3.3% vs. 94.6 ± 2.4%, P < 0.05) when expressed as percentage of pre-WU amplitude. Wingate test performance was significantly better (P < 0.01) after experimental WU (peak power output = 1,390 ± 80 W, work = 29.1 ± 1.2 kJ) than traditional WU (peak power output = 1,303 ± 89 W, work = 27.7 ± 1.2 kJ). The traditional track cyclist's WU results in significant fatigue, which corresponds with impaired peak power output. A shorter and lower-intensity WU permits a better performance.

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