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The practicalities of warm up

Warm_upIn 'The importance of warm up' we explained the physiology behind the warm-up routine, and why it is an important component to race day planning. The physical (temperature, activation of enzymes for metabolism), mental (getting in ‘the zone’) and equipment preparation all contribute to peak performance.

When it comes to the fine detail of the warm-up, while sport science can give guidance on the content and timing, preference for warm up routines are very individualised. For example, many riders prefer to warm-up on the open road, while just as many prefer the controlled conditions offered by a turbo trainer. It really is personal preference, and may alter dependent on the logistics, the type of event, or indeed the weather. The bottom line is, you should chose the modality that you feel leaves you best prepared for the event ahead.

The research findings from experimental studies should be kept in mind however to give general guidelines. For example, one question often asked is ‘how long is the ideal warm-up’? The answer will be dependent on the length of the race, and also the weather conditions. For example, the shorter the race (and higher target power) the longer the warm-up. Obviously, the colder the day, the longer you would want the warm-up to be. Less obvious, the terrain of the course may factor – some riders prefer longer warm-ups for hillier courses, given that the climbing segments require higher powers (when thinking of an optimised pacing strategy). The type of warm-up is also individualised and specific to the event: often dependent on what training you have done the day before as well as weather, and even nutritional strategies. All the parameters that can be manipulated need to be talked through with the coach. Like any other race day preparation though, make sure you practice the warm-up BEFORE you try it for the first time in a race situation! An ideal time would be before specific race pace training sessions in the pre-season build up.

Tips towards achieving the top class warm-up!

A race may not be won with a great warm up routine, but it can certainly be lost. Follow these pointers:

If you don’t know the course, drive round it before (allow time for this is in your race plan)

Prepare to race BEFORE the warm-up: Sign on, set-up the bike, pin on your race number BEFORE you get going – there is nothing more astonishing than watching people being meticulous with the warm-up only for them to finish and spend 30 minutes getting cold again!

Wear layers of clothes, and strip these off as you warm up

Integrate nutrition as part of the warm-up timings

  • For ‘25’ races – drink 1 x 750ml bottle, with a 6% carbohydrate solution 1 hour before the race start
  • Keep sipping on another bottle while you warm up (~2 to 3%)
If you are using ergogenic aids, consider them too. For example:
  • Sodium bicarbonate should be take 90 mins before race start (so commonly before you start your warm-up
  • Pro plus (caffeine) 1 hour before, in most cases just into your warm-up

As we explain in Part I of this factsheet, don’t be scared of intensity - ‘heavy’ warm-ups give the best performance

What follows are a couple of example warm-ups for you to try

Example warm-up for a 10 mile time trial

For more information on the these warm up routines see the session descriptions section

 


Time

Intensity

Comments

5 min

Zone 1, easy spin

Keep cadence high, HR should be below LT

5 min

Low end of zone 2

Keep cadence high, HR should be below LT

10 min

Steady

Start upper levels of zone 2, and progress effort every minute or so, bringing HR to zone 3

5 min

Zone 3

Steady work in zone 3

5 min

From top end zone 3 to race pace

Progress through gears, keep cadence high, finish with 1 minute at race pace

5 min

Steady

Return to zone 2

6 min

Supra-max efforts*

4 x 15s bursts, return to a spinning gear for a minute or so

(41-min duration)

 

 

 

Example warm-up for a 25 mile time trial

Time

Intensity

Comments

5 min

Zone 1, easy spin

Keep cadence high, HR should be below LT

5 min

Low end of zone 2

Keep cadence high, HR should be below LT

5 min

Steady

LT HR

5 min

Zone 3

Steady work in zone 3

5 min

From top end zone 3 to race pace

Progress through gears, keep cadence high

5 min

Steady

Return to zone 2

6 min

Race pace efforts*

3 x 1min, return to a spinning gear for a minute in between

(36-min duration)

 

Message to take home:

Don’t leave your warm-up planning until you first sit on the bike at the race venue! Know exactly your aim, the time you need to get to the start line, and when you need to be on the bike turning those legs over. Follow this plan:

1) Have a routine that prepares you physically and mentally

2) Set your watch to the “official” race time so you won’t be late.

3) Time your warm-up to finish about ten minutes before your race start.

4) Know where the start is, and how long it will take to get there. Factor this into the warm-up.

5) Give yourself a 5 minute cushion to get to the starting area, make sure you are sweating (but towel off after the warm-up)

6) Sit alone or roll around and focus on the effort, thinking about the desired wattage and heart rates for the effort you are about to put forth

7) Arrive at the line ready to go.

 

 

Text Box: Time	Intensity	Comments 5 min	Zone 1, easy spin	Keep cadence high, HR should be below LT 5 min	Low end of zone 2	Keep cadence high, HR should be below LT 5 min	Steady	LT HR 5 min	Zone 3	Steady work in zone 3 5 min	From top end zone 3 to race pace	Progress through gears, keep cadence high 5 min	Steady	Return to zone 2 6 min	220W	3 x 1min, return to a spinning gear for a minute in between