To warm up or to pre-cool? The paradox of optimal strategies to undertake prior to exercise in the heat

Rob Duffield, Ric Lovell

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


Exercise in hot conditions alters the physiological response to the ensuing exercise bout and may hasten the onset of fatigue. Regardless of the environment, often pre-exercise procedures are employed in order to ensure the commencement of exercise in an optimally prepared state to perform. Two such pre-exercise procedures often proposed as being of benefit involve warming up and pre-cooling, respectively. While both have been shown to have ergogenic benefits, they are somewhat contradictory in nature. It is well documented that optimal muscular function of the contractile fibres occurs with an increased muscle temperature. Accordingly, the practice of a warm up prior to exercise commencement is endemic to most sports and athletes and is often based on the premise of increasing muscle temperature. In contrast, it is equally well documented that reducing body temperature by cooling the periphery of the body, including the musculature, is also ergogenic for exercise performance. Accordingly, the practice of pre-cooling is regularly used by athletes from a range of sports and environments. This contradiction between increasing and decreasing respective body temperatures to improve exercise performance raises interesting questions regarding the mechanisms behind the regulation of exercise in the heat. Consequently, the underlying physiological mechanisms to both warm up and pre-cooling procedures are seemingly related to thermoregulatory control. As such, this chapter will review the respective literature on both warm up and pre-cooling in relation to exercise in the heat. Included in this synthesis of relevant literature will be the physiological and performance responses to these respective pre-exercise interventions in the heat. Additionally, a comparison of the respective roles and interaction of both procedures will be discussed and finally, recommendations for the integration of both practices will be provided.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBody temperature regulation
EditorsAustin B Cisneros, Bryan L Goins
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781607412823
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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