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The Russian warm-up: an old method that works to warm up quickly

The warm-up is essential to any physical activity and we have seen why. Unfortunately, it is too often neglected, considered boring. The purpose of this article is to reconcile you with the warm-up in order to limit your risk of injury

Here, you will discover theso-called Russian warm-up which is a very fast and efficient method to reach an optimal body temperature for sports, whatever the sport

The Russian warm-up invented by Masterovoi

russian masterovoi warm-up 1964

The Russian warm-up is a warm-up method based on the increase of the muscular temperature. This method appeared thanks to a Russian, Mr. Mastérovoï in 1966.

More than 50 years later, this effective method is still used in the largest sports clubs, helps prevent injuries and especially saves time on warming up.

The role of the warm-up

The role of the warm-up is to prepare the body for the stresses it will undergo during physical activity. The warm-up therefore has an impact on :

  • Injury prevention
  • The technique
  • Concentration
  • The performance

The principles of the Russian warm-up

The Russian warm-up is based on the following principles:

  • Muscle economy
  • Muscle temperature
  • Passive warm-up
  • The half-time
  • The parameters of the warm-up

Muscle economy

The principle is not to consume too much energy! It is important to optimize the warm-up by raising the muscle and core temperature quickly in order to save time.

Muscle temperature

We talk about heating up when we increase the temperature by 2° or even 3°.

To reach this optimal (for sports performance) body temperature, we must increase :

  • The temperature of the muscle
  • Central body temperature

How long does it take for the body temperature to rise?

  • The body temperature increases after about 20 minutes and only when the muscle temperature starts to rise.
  • Muscle temperature only increases in 3-4 minutes.

So, first you need to increase the temperature of each muscle group and then of the whole body.

To increase muscle temperature:

Mastérovoi explains that the temperature depends on the blood flow, so if we increase the blood supply, we increase the temperature, so it is necessary to perform a pumping: so we perform contractions-release, contractions-relaxation.

And the moment you open the valves, the whole temperature will start to rise.

The following exercises do not raise the temperature sufficiently:

  • Slow jogging
  • Fast movements like ballistic movements because they don't have time to create the pumping
  • Stretching

However, they can be useful in other ways. For example, starting the training with a slow jog can help to work on team cohesion.

The Russian warm-up method to increase the temperature:


Muscle temperature:

How to increase muscle temperature?

It is a counter-resistance work: concentric work of the muscle then eccentric. Muscle by muscle

How many times? 6 to 10 repetitions

How long ? 5 minutes are enough to warm up the whole body

The central temperature

How to increase the core temperature?

Once the muscle temperature has risen, it is sufficient to do classic situations of activity

How long will it take?

It increases in 20 minutes

Passive warm-up

A muscle cools down in just 5 minutes!!!

Passive warming up consists of increasing muscle tension through external stresses such as a hot shower or bath, a room heated to 45°, etc. 

The goal is to maintain the body temperature at an optimal level for the sport while allowing the athlete time to recover.

The passive warm-up is ideal for 10 minutes because after that the temperature drops. 

It should be used during break times such as half-time in team sports.

 Passive warm-up in practice

  • Being in a heated or overheated room.
  • During the break, maintain the temperature especially in the areas used by the sport (legs +++): use technical clothing, comforters, blankets, etc.
  • Do not let the body cool down: reactivate it every 5 minutes with electrostimulation or simple leg flexion and extension
  • The warm-up will take less than 3 minutes

Half-time in team sports

A study by Mohr and colleagues in 2004 investigated the assessment of muscle temperature in soccer players between the first and second half.

We observed that the players lose 2° of temperature after half-time and the most important is that the time that it goes back up the game is almost finished!

This has an impact on performance as well as injuries.

For example, after the 2nd half, the time it takes a soccer player to run 30 meters is considerably increased (4.65 seconds versus 4.54 seconds in the first half). This time decreases at the end of the 2nd half when the body is well warmed up.

With a Russian warm-up at half-time, we improve the speed at 30m compared to the end of the 1st half.

Tips to apply at halftime

Option 1:

  • Apply a passive warm-up: overheat the locker room,dress the players as soon as the game is over with clothes that contain heat,avoid sitting for more than 5 minutes because it is unfavorable to good blood circulation.
  • Do an activity every 3 minutes such as electrostimulation or pedaling


Option 2:

  • 2-5 min active warm-up with short, high intensity efforts (example: sprints and jumps at about 90% of maximum heart rate)
  • Warm clothing

The parameters of the warm-up

According to the type of effort

There are different types of efforts:

  • Brief efforts < 10 sec:

For these efforts, only the muscle temperature is important. There is no point in increasing the core temperature. Therefore, a 5-minute warm-up may be sufficient.

  • Short duration efforts from 10 sec to 5 min

Do not rest for more than 5 minutes before the competition

  • Long efforts longer than 5 minutes and intermittent efforts such as team sports

The warm-up should not be too long. 

The duration of the warm-up

Between 5 and 20 minutes

Marie Messager
Sports Osteopath
Physical trainer

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