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The Effects of Elapsed Time After Warm-Up on Subsequent Exercise Performance in a Cold Environment

Spitz, Marissa G.1,2; Kenefick, Robert W.2; Mitchell, Joel B.1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 5 - p 1351–1357
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000291
Original Research

Abstract: Spitz, MG, Kenefick, RW, and Mitchell, JB. The effects of elapsed time after warm-up on subsequent exercise performance in a cold environment. J Strength Cond Res 28(5): 1351–1357, 2014—Athletes often compete in cold environments and may face delays because of weather or race logistics between performance of a warm-up and the start of the race. This study sought to determine, (a) whether a delay after warm-up affects subsequent time trial (TT) performance and (b) if exposure to a cold environment has an additive effect. We hypothesized that after a warm-up, 30 minutes of rest in a cold environment would negatively affect subsequent rowing and running performance. In a temperate (temp; 24° C) or cold (cold; 5° C) environment, 5 rowers (33 ± 10 years; 83 ± 12 kg) and 5 runners (23 ± 2 years; 65 ± 8 kg) performed a 15-minute standardized warm-up followed by a 5- or 30-minute rest and then performed a 2-km rowing or 2.4 km running TT. The 5-minute rest following warm-up in the temperate environment (5Temp) served as the control trial to which the other experimental trials (5Cold; 30Temp; and 30Cold) were compared. Heart rate, lactate, and esophageal (Tes) and skin (Tsk) temperatures were measured throughout. Postrest and post-TT, Tes, and Tsk were lowest in the 30Cold trials. The greatest decrement in TT performance vs. 5Temp occurred in 30Cold (−4.0%; difference of 20 seconds). This difference is considered to have practical importance, as it was greater than the reported day-to-day variation for events of this type. We conclude that longer elapsed time following warm-up, combined with cold air exposure, results in potentially important reductions in exercise performance. Athletes should consider the appropriate timing of warm-up. In addition, performance may be preserved by maintaining skin and core temperatures following a warm-up, via clothing or other means.

1Department of Kinesiology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas; and

2Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts

Address correspondence to Marissa G. Spitz,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.