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Warm up before a workout by using the RAMP method

It is extremely important to warm up before exercising. To do so effectively, use the RAMP method

A good warm up before exercising is essential.
A good warm up before exercising is essential. (Istockphoto)

Different ways to warm-up has been a bit of an obsession for me over the course of writing this fitness column for the last few years. From mobilising and activating muscles to increasing the heart-rate, warming up is the indispensable precursor to a good workout.

Why is warm-up important? Well, here are some metaphors to help make my point. Take skincare for example: one must cleanse, moisturise, and apply sunscreen. Throw in a serum and that’s even better. But don’t apply sunscreen straight away. Or take cooking: let the oil heat, before cracking that egg on the pan. And don’t take it off until it is cooked before ready to eat.

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In case you wished there was an easier formula to remember what a warm-up before heavy exercise or a run is, well, there already is one: RAMP. It stands for raise, activate, mobilise, and potentiate. An easy word to remember to break down what can be a short but brilliant way to make your workouts better.

“A RAMP model is the most scientifically proven to prepare your body optimally. The overall aim is to improve performance and reduce injury risk. It can enhance the physiological, psychological and skill levels in advance of a session. It provides a structure and objective for each phase and helps the athlete understand what they are trying to achieve,” triathlete coach Chris Stanton is quoted as saying in an article titled How To Use RAMP For An Effective Warm-up on popular fitness website Third Space.

Strength and conditioning coach and fitness writer and educator Dr. Ian Jeffreys is often attributed as the inventor of the RAMP method. His books, including The Warm Up, and Effective Coaching In Strength And Conditioning: Pathways To Superior Performance are fantastic guidebooks to the science of training.

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Now, let’s break down the constituent elements of RAMP. R for raise. The system forces the athlete to think beyond a five-minute run on the treadmill. Focus on the day or the main workout and raise blood flow, breathing rate, and body temperature. Clapping push-ups or push-ups before a heavy chest day. Skipping for a day including box jumps and calf raises. High knees and jumping jacks before a run. Here’s a good example of a good RAMP warm-up.

A is for activate. A Men’s Healtharticle titled The Only Way To Warm Up For Improved Performance states that doing this step “will enable you to correct faulty movement patterns and ease the load from overworked muscle groups by getting every muscle group working together. Performing exercises like clams or mini-band walks are perfect for activating your glutes before a squat session.”

M is for mobilise. “The achievement of the mobilization phase of the warm-up takes a radically different approach than the traditional static stretching approach. Rather than focus on individual muscles, the approach is to work on movements,” writes Jeffreys in his game-changing 2007 paper on RAMP, titled Warm Up Revisited–The ‘Ramp’ Method Of Optimising Performance Preparation.

P for potentiate. This is very closely related to what you will be doing as your main workout. If you are about to play badminton, you might want to consider side-to-side shuffles and quick sprints and reaches. The key is to also increase the intensity to ready you for the sport.

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Think of a batsman playing those air shots before facing the first ball. But think of doing it for longer than the walk from dressing room to the stumps. “This phase of the warm-up will now begin to unidentifiably transit into the workout/sport itself, meaning it will begin to incorporate sports-specific activities using rising intensities,” states the section on warm-ups in the fitness website Science Of Sport.

Jeffreys went deeper into his research and wrote another paper on the subject titled RAMP Warm-Ups: More Than Simply Short-term Preparation. In this he argues that warm-ups are an effective long-term performance enhancer for fitness enthusiasts rather than just a setup for the body to exercise. He talks about the ‘Gamespeed System’ in which he mentions multiple exercises, directional changes and short bursts of movements and static positions, which have adopted by top sports teams and athletes around the world.

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“By switching to a long-term focus, it allows activities to be selected that achieve the short-term focus but which also contribute to the long-term athletic development of the athlete,” he writes in the paper.

Having an easy structure to remember has made fitness a fluid but methodical science. It is the reason we do push-ups, then bench press and then triceps on push day. Order makes it easier in the gym, and RAMP is the perfect warm-up order to remember.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

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