Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Running as a Warm Up that Bad?

Real quick....if you had the choice of warming up on a treadmill or not warming up at all; which would you choose? I'm going to guess than many...if not all of you, will say that you would choose warming up on a treadmill over not warming up at all. Let's say I present you with the choice of warming up with a treadmill or warming up by performing a series of movement preparation drills? My guess is some of you will choose performing some movement prep drills over running on the treadmill. 

I'm a movement prep doubt about it. I mean, heck...I even produced 5 DVDs that include movement preparation as part of the warm up. Whenever, I enter the gym the first place I go to is the corner and perform my usual movement drills to target specific areas: hips, knee, ankles, scapulae, and thoracic spine. So I am a big proponent of movement prep drills. I truly believe it has helped me stave off any serious injuries over the last 4 years.

Lately, I have been playing around with the "old 5 minute run on a treadmill" before workouts with my clients. I wondered, as we advance in our learning we tend to abandon old ways in favor of the latest researched protocols. Not a bad thing...actually it has helped me understand anatomy a little bit better and has helped me give my clients what they want: results.

Well, I wondered...wouldn't running on a treadmill be a form of movement prep for some advanced trainees? I know that running on a solid surface can have its drawbacks, but what if I used running for 5 minutes, (along with some movement prep afterward to loosen up), with my clients and myself--who tend to be "lighter on the feet" and in better condition?

Well, for the last 4 weeks, I have had a handful of my clients warm up prior to a session with some light running for about 4-5 minutes. After the treadmill, we would immediately go into some mobility drills including:

Scap Push-ups
Squat to Toe Touches
Side Lunges
Would you believe that every client session turned out to be better than the last? My clients reported that they felt more "alert", "stimulated", and "warm" when running on the treadmill prior to their strength workout. When I thought about it...what are some of the things I am trying to achieve before the workout? What am I trying to actually "warm up"?

Albeit, I don't want sedentary people running on the treadmill, but I do want them to move. Treadmill work can be manipulated in various ways. I can start with slow incline power walks, or fast walks, to light jogging. I can vary the time that one uses the treadmill as a warm up. I can begin with only 2 minutes or increase it to 10 minutes. Its really up to how the client reacts to the action

So I found this study that had shown that running on the treadmill as a warm-up had affected the following factors that I usually seek in a movement prep warm-up:

Ankle dorsiflexion
hip extension increased
heart rate increased
body temperature increased for those advanced enough to run on a treadmill safely (including myself), should we omit it totally from our warm-ups? I like the best of both worlds in my training...


  1. I still do both myself.

    B. Cruess

  2. I believe in the treadmill(arc trainer, elliptical- anything where you are standing up not sitting down) warm up.

    Lets remember the goals of the warm up - core body temperature and increase muscle elasticity.

    I cant help but feel their are those dead set on foam rolling as a form of a warm up. I am just not buying into that knowing what the goals of warming up are. Maybe after the warm up but not as a warm up- what do you think?

  3. Both is fine. Basically warming up the entire body. And by adding some form of cardiovascular activity that is adjusted to a clients ability it helps them feel more energized for the vigorous exercise to follow.

  4. I do believe that movement prep has a place SOMEWHERE in the program. So many people are quick to only include it i8n the beginning of a workout; but I believe that you need to get tissue (muscles) ready for such work. Thats where an activity like biking or jogging come into place.

  5. Couldnt you do the movement prep and then instead of being on a treadmill do some kind of mini circuit to increase core temp, muscle elasticity and get the nervous system going.

  6. John, it's amazing how you're able to introduce interesting topics like this for discussion. Warming up helps to prevent injuries from happening in the first place, but I trust your call on this one. Have a great 2011!

    Rick Kaselj

  7. I usually do some kind of warmup, either treadmill/aerodyne/c2 for about 5 minutes at a relatively light pace, then take my people through a lateral or linear dynamic warmup. I've found that the combination of the two does help reduce injury and increase 'alertness' for the strength/power portion of their workouts.


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