AbstractWe establish new local regularity results for the harmonic map and Yang–Mills heat flows on Riemannian manifolds of dimension greater than 2 and 4, respectively, obtaining criteria for the smooth local extensibility of these flows. As a corollary, we obtain new characterisations of singularity formation and use this to obtain a local estimate on the Hausdorff measure of the singular sets of these flows at the first singular time. Finally, we show that smooth blow-ups at rapidly forming singularities of these flows are necessarily nontrivial and admit a positive lower bound on their heat ball energies. These results crucially depend on some local monotonicity formulæ for these flows recently established by Ecker (Calc Var Partial Differ Equ 23(1):67–81, 2005) and the Afuni (Calc Var 555(1):1–14, 2016; Adv Calc Var 12(2):135–156, 2019).