It is widely accepted that warming-up prior to exercise is vital for the attainment of optimum performance. Both passive and active warm-up can evoke temperature, metabolic, neural and psychology-related effects, including increased anaerobic metabolism, elevated oxygen uptake kinetics and post-activation potentiation. Passive warm-up can increase body temperature without depleting energy substrate stores, as occurs during the physical activity associated with active warm-up. While the use of passive warm-up alone is not commonplace, the idea of utilizing passive warming techniques to maintain elevated core and muscle temperature throughout the transition phase (the period between completion of the warm-up and the start of the event) is gaining in popularity. Active warm-up induces greater metabolic changes, leading to increased preparedness for a subsequent exercise task. Until recently, only modest scientific evidence was available supporting the effectiveness of pre-competition warm-ups, with early studies often containing relatively few participants and focusing mostly on physiological rather than performance-related changes. External issues faced by athletes pre-competition, including access to equipment and the length of the transition/marshalling phase, have also frequently been overlooked. Consequently, warm-up strategies have continued to develop largely on a trial-and-error basis, utilizing coach and athlete experiences rather than scientific evidence. However, over the past decade or so, new research has emerged, providing greater insight into how and why warm-up influences subsequent performance. This review identifies potential physiological mechanisms underpinning warm-ups and how they can affect subsequent exercise performance, and provides recommendations for warm-up strategy design for specific individual and team sports.