Summary ZABBES

Different warm-up modalities on swimming sprint performance


Swimming is a very demanding sport which requires extreme muscle strength and endurance. Only fractions of a second may separate the winner from the opponents. The swimming performance, specifically, is influenced by complex interactions between physiological, morphological, neuromuscular, biomechanical, and technical factors. These factors not only depend on training, genetics, and opportunity but also can be influenced by a “warm-up,” recognized as a primary factor in athletic performance.

Completion of a warm-up prior to a competitive exercise bout is a widely accepted practice within modern sport; athletes and coaches believe that warm-up is very essential to attain optimal performance. Consequently, this thesis proposes an easy method for coaches to implement during the competition warm-up or before the race in call room to improve the performance of their athletes. This technique is called post-activation potentiation (PAP).  However, the effects of PAP and swimming performance remains limited. Consequently, our three studies contributed to the knowledge of this subject.

Our results provided practical information for coaches to develop appropriate training paradigms for their swimmers. The revealed data reported the importance of PAP individualization to enhance swimming performance and described some basics  that should guide the warm-up structure in the competition. Many factors can affect the PAP impact on performance such as the transition time between the PAP stimulus and the subsequent main activity (swimming race), the typological profile and muscle strength of swimmers (the percentage of fast, slow fibers...), the level of training experience and the load or intensity of the PAP stimulus. Nevertheless, PAP effect in swimming still lack the information to understand how it works and specially to allow better application in practice.

However, it is necessary for each trainer or physical trainer to proceed by trial and error to determine, for each athlete, what is the optimal recovery time in order to enhance the performance. According to the literature, the potentiation effect can be measured between 1min to 12 minutes before the race. This duration should be short enough to maintain potentiation but long enough not to induce an accumulation of fatigue. The optimal average time is often around 6 to 8 minutes, which corresponds to the time the swimmer waits in the call room.  However, many protocols are to be tested, science must continue to study this phenomenon to know its most effective use in swimming performance.