How power warm-ups could help you get stronger – and faster

Study finds that power warm-ups, or priming, can improve your workouts

Credit: Daniel Seex

Now the triathlon season’s crossed the 2019 finish line, the training plans and sessions of many you will morph from lifting race speed to laying aerobic foundations and strengthening your multisport bodies. The former focuses on long, slow efforts; the latter should incorporate gym work. And, according to a recent review article in the journal Sports Medicine, you’ll maximise those gym gains with a spot of priming.


Priming is essentially a power warm-up where you undertake a very short but intense session that’ll improve your longer gym workout or sprint workout either later that day or the following day. One study saw 13 swimmers undertake a series of intense run sprints in the morning; in the afternoon they improved their 100m swim PB by 1.7%. Another resulted in weightlifters improving their vertical-jump best by 4.5% after performing five sets of heavy clean pulls earlier in the day.


How priming works isn’t fully known but it’s suggested it’s down to increased testosterone levels and charging the neuromuscular system. Will this priming work if followed by a swim, bike or run session, you ask? The jury’s out but, if the multisport session is short and intense enough, it’s potentially a ‘yes’.