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Sports Med. 2003;33(13):949-71.

Effects of prior exercise on metabolic and gas exchange responses to exercise.

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Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager, UK.


'Warm-up' activity is almost universally performed by athletes prior to their participation in training or competition. However, relatively little is known about the optimal intensity and duration for such exercise, or about the potential mechanisms primed by warm-up that might enhance performance. Recent studies demonstrate that vigorous warm-up exercise that normally results in an elevated blood and presumably muscle lactate concentration has the potential to increase the aerobic energy turnover in subsequent high-intensity exercise. The reduced oxygen deficit is associated with a reduction in both the depletion of the intramuscular phosphocreatine stores and the rate at which lactic acid is produced. Furthermore, the oxygen uptake 'slow component' that develops during high-intensity, ostensibly submaximal, exercise is attenuated. These factors would be hypothesised to predispose to increased exercise tolerance. Interestingly, the elevation of muscle temperature by prior exercise does not appear to be implicated in the altered metabolic and gas exchange responses observed during subsequent exercise. The physiological mechanism(s) that limit the rate and the extent to which muscle oxygen uptake increases following the onset of exercise, and which are apparently altered by the performance of prior heavy exercise, are debated. However, these mechanisms could include oxygen availability, enzyme activity and/or availability of metabolic substrate, and motor unit recruitment patterns. Irrespective of the nature of the control mechanisms that are influenced, 'priming' exercise has the potential to significantly enhance exercise tolerance and athletic performance. The optimal combination of the intensity, duration and mode of 'warm-up' exercise, and the recovery period allowed before the criterion exercise challenge, remain to be determined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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