Warm up for an hour long race

Warm-up-1-hour-raceAim of Session

Preparing the rider for a race of one hour using a progressive warm-up and final race pace efforts







Session description

Time Power Comments
5 min Zone 1 Keep cadence high, HR should be below threshold
5 min Low end zone 2 Keep cadence high, HR should be below threshold
5 min LT power Heart rate at LT
5 min Mid zone 3 Steady work in zone 3
5 min Mid zone 3 to low zone 4 Progress through gears, keep cadence high
5 min LT power Return to zone 2
6 min Race pace efforts* 3 x 1min, return to a spinning gear for a minute in between
36 min   TOTAL TIME

 *These can be done on the way to the line


This session includes a very gradual warm-up towards an intensity suitable for a longer race. The first 15 minutes allow for a gradual increase in heart rate towards the threshold. An increase in heat production from muscle contraction and an elevation in blood flow allows the temperature of the muscles to rise. This rise in temperature is important, as it makes the muscles more supple and vastly reduces the risk of injury. Also, the rise in temperature allows enzymes within the muscle to work more efficiently. Enzymes are the instigators of the chemical reactions within the body and a rise in muscle temperature is hugely beneficial to the majority of the chemical reactions involved in energy production.

The next 10 minutes of the warm-up takes the intensity up to race pace. Although aerobic energy supply is hugely important for longer races, it is essential not to overlook the anaerobic systems that supply a large amount of energy when the intensity is high (e.g. during a period of climbing). This 10 minute section allows the anaerobic pathways to be readied in preparation for the race. The next 5 minutes in zone 2 allows any waste products that might have been produced in the previous 10 minutes to be removed.

The last 6 minutes of the warm up uses a few 1 minute reps at a higher intensity. This is required to recruit a few more fast twitch muscle fibres that are required when the intensity is high. These race pace efforts also allow for the neurological pathway to be optimised - like 'tuning in' to the required race effort. This means that for every neural message sent from the brain to the muscle, more muscle fibres will be activated to produce force. It is essential to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible from each action potential (message from the brain to the muscle) as this allows for a more forceful muscle contraction. An increase in the force of each muscle contraction means an increase in power through the pedals!

Application for the Rider

This thorough warm-up with steady progression is targeting the specific intensity at which you will be racing. In a race with a longer distance, it is essential to fully warm-up the aerobic pathway to aid aerobic energy supply during the race. If this pathway is switched on and ready to go, there is less need for fuel to be wasted during anaerobic energy supply in the first part of the race. After this progressive warm-up, you should be right ready to go!

For practical tips and how to evaluate your warm-up, look at the osession description for 20 min race prep