The ideal warm-up

The best way to get ready for your next event

How should you warm up before you race? That depends, says Ric Stern, senior coach at cycling coaching company rstsport.com.

“While it’s possible to go for a ride without warming up, for a race or fast-starting sportive, it’s essential, and should be part physiological, part psychological and part ‘engineering’,” he says.

Physiological warm-up

Don’t static stretch pre-ride – warm up on a bike. “Research supports ‘heavy’ exercise before a main exercise bout,” says Stern.

“The shorter and faster the race, the longer the warm-up, and more intense the ‘heavy’ efforts. Longer events might not need a warm-up unless they start fast, like a road race, which needs an intense warm-up.”

Psychological

“A warm-up can help you prepare mentally for the job ahead and where you do it can help. For example, for a crit do at least part of the warm-up on the circuit,” Stern explains.

“This will help you learn lines, speeds and braking points. For a road race, warm up on the circuit with the warm-up routine below if possible. For a TT, it’s often best to isolate yourself by warming up on a turbo trainer using the warm-up below while listening to music.”

Engineering

“It’s vital to leave some time to making sure your bike is working correctly,” says Stern.

“Check the brakes, wheels, quick-release levers and gears. Also check you have the right drink, food and bottles, plus for sportives, a pump, tubes and patch kit.”

Ric Stern's example warm-up

  • Five minutes easy pedalling. Check that your bike works properly!
  • Five minutes at heart rate zone 1, building to zone 2
  • Five minutes at zone 3
  • 30 seconds easy
  • Two relatively hard three-minute sessions (around 10-mile TT effort) with two minutes easy between efforts. If you’re warming up it could take a few minutes for your HR to catch up – even at above race effort. Aim for the intensity of 10-mile pace, which might look too easy on your heart rate monitor at first.
  • Five minutes easy pedalling
  • Two ‘moderate’ sprints of five seconds each, for any event that may include a sprint in it
  • Five minutes easy pedalling
  • Ten minutes resting (not exercising)

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Cycling Plus

Cycling Plus Magazine
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine – the manual for the modern road cyclist. Try your first five issues for £5 when you subscribe today.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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