What is the RAMP Method (as used in Exercise & Fitness)?

Warming-up (or movement preparation) before a training session is crucial in aiding participants to get the best results from their session.

A RAMP warm-up, developed by Dr. Ian Jeffreys, can be very useful (for both trainers and participants) in making sure that the body is well prepared and ready for the coming exercise.

RAMP stands for:

  • Raise body temperature which can be done by doing a 5-10min pulse raiser such as a jog.
  • Activate the most important (key) muscles which include your lumbo-pelvic hip area, core muscles as well as you postural back muscles.
  • Mobilise your joints to have better range of motion while you are exercising.
    • This can be achieved with exercises.
  • Potentiate the main muscles that you are going to use during that particular session.
    • This can be done by doing a sub-maximal lift if you are going to lift relatively heavy or by doing a few repetitions of the exercises you are going to use during the session.

For those readers who want a slightly more technical outline of what RAMP is, then continue reading below.

  • Raise:
    • This phase has the aim of elevating body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood
      flow and joint fluid viscosity via low intensity activities.
    • Whilst this is common practice, the methods used to achieve it often represents perhaps the biggest waste of valuable training time in many programmes, with the common jog around a field (or in a circle) is still a common sight.

    • Given the limited training time an exercise professional may have with their clients, and the contribution that warm-up can play in the training process, this phase can be dedicated to movement skills and/or sport skills.
    • Over a training year these activities can contribute a massive amount of time dedicated to developing these key elements.
    • By identifying elements such as key movement patterns or techniques involved in exercise/competition/sport, the exercise professional can construct routines that develop and hone these effectively whilst still providing for the elevation elements needed within the warm-up.
  • Activate and Mobilise:
    • This phase has two key aims:
      • To activate key muscle groups; and
      • To mobilise key joints and ranges of motion used in the sport or exercise.
    • In terms of specific activation, the inclusion of this will depend upon the needs of the individual
      and/or the sport/exercise.
    • In some instances, where key muscle groups may need to be stimulated, exercises can be selected that target these key muscles.

    • This can often involve exercises traditionally associated with prehab such as mini-band routines, rotator cuff exercises, glute bridges, overhead squats, etc.
    • This is a time efficient method of including these exercises in the training programme, and the extent of this phase will depend upon the individual sport/exercise and the individual’s needs.
    • The achievement of the mobilisation 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.
    • This has a number of key advantages:
      • First, the dynamic nature contributes to maintaining the elevation effects of the first period.
      • Secondly the movements are more specific to those found in the sport/exercise; and
      • Thirdly it is extremely time efficient.
      • Additionally, it has a physiologically different approach.
    • Whilst static stretching involves a relaxation of the muscle, the activation and mobilisation approach involves actively working a muscle through its range of motion, which has the effect of activating all of the key muscles involved both directly in the movements and also in the stabilsation of the body through the movements.
    • In this way preparation for activity is enhanced, as muscles are activated, as well as mobilised through key movements.
    • In designing the activate and mobilisation phase, the exercise professional needs to identify the key movement patterns involved in the sport/exercise, together with key muscles that need to be activated in order to produce these movements.
    • A series of dynamic stretches can then be selected which provide for the activation and mobilisation needed for effective sports/exercise performance.
    • This type of approach helps maintain the beneficial effects of the elevation section of the warm-up, and can also be extremely time efficient, as by focusing on movements, many muscle groups can be activated and mobilised with the same movement, rather than with the single muscle approach of traditional static stretching routines.
    • Exercise professionals should be encouraged to develop a range of dynamic movements that can activate key areas and which contribute to the overall session aims.
    • In this way, they can bring variety to the warm-up routines, and also provide for the variability which can contribute to training gains.
  • Potentiation:
    • The term ‘potentiation’ refers to activities that improve effectiveness, and in the case of the warm-up involves the selection of activities that will improve the effectiveness of subsequent
      performance.
    • This phase of the warm-up will see a gradual shift towards the actual sport performance or workout itself, and will normally involve sport/exercise specific activities of increasing intensity.
    • Including these high intensity dynamic exercises can facilitate subsequent performance, and is the essence of the potentiation phase of the warm-up.
    • The nature of the activities will depend upon the specific nature of the activities to perform, e.g. a sprint workout will comprise of sprint drills and sprints of increasing intensity.
    • Additionally, they may also comprise of activities that increase elements of physical performance that may contribute to higher levels of subsequent performance.
    • The potentiation phase of the warm-up can have two aims:
      • The first, and most common aim, is to increase the intensity of exercise to a point at which
        individuals are able to perform their training/match activities at their maximal levels; and
      • The second, and least common application, is to select activities that may contribute to a super-maximal effect, where the activities chosen contribute to an enhanced performance effect, via the utlilisation of the post-activation potentiation (PAP) effect.
    • For the former aim, what is important is that a series of activities are engaged in that allow the individual to achieve their peak performance when the workout or competition begins.
    • For running workouts, speed and agility drills are ideal at this time, in that they provide for a progressive potentiation effect, which at the same time provides a very real training benefit.
    • The performance of speed/agility drills in this section of the warm-up can be a very time efficient way of ensuring individuals receive regular doses of progressive speed and agility training, at the optimal time in any workout.
    • Using speed and agility type drills at this time ensures that the individual undertakes these when they are fresh, and when the training will result in the greatest benefits.
    • For resistance training workouts, plyometric, medicine ball, and lighter or explosive resistance exercises can be used which provide a progression towards the workout itself, and which provide a stimulus to allow maximal effort on the first sets.
    • In terms of the PAP effects, the application of post-activation potentiation research may provide an avenue by which to enhance the overall effectiveness of the warm-up, especially in sports requiring high force and power outputs.
    • Force and power production is dependent upon both the muscles and tendons capacity, and the ability of the neural system to activate the muscles.
    • In studying the force output of a muscle, it is important to note that motor units are capable of firing at different frequencies, and that the activation depends upon the level of excitation of the motoneurones by the CNS.
    • Thus there are subtle changes that take place in the neural control of sports based movements, and in the muscle tendon characteristics during different activities.
    • What is important is to determine whether these can be influenced by potentiating exercise.
    • In this way PAP type activities could have a beneficial effect on subsequent performance.
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