I see this week in week out throughout the racing season; riders turning up and pootling up the road a few times before heading to the start and knocking out a time that has them frustrated at the end. In fact I’m being harsh because we have probably all done it. But failing to warm-up properly isn’t just damaging your times but also putting yourself at risk of injury. This isn’t scaremongering this is fact. Going from nothing to full instantly will damage your body. Think back to the days before all this cleaver synthetic oil you put in your engine, you wouldn’t go from turning on your car to thrashing it down the street would you?
There is the opposite end of the spectrum to think about too and this is probably why most people actually do less than they should during a warm-up. You don’t want to overdo it… But how much is enough? Well I’m jumping on one particular bandwagon here, mainly because they both trained me but I always go with British Cycling & Wattbike’s 20 minute warm-up, see below. Some might say it’s too much, well you obviously know better than some of the best minds in sport science then!
In fact I regularly do more than this. When I warm-up for a 10 mile time trial I actually spend more time preparing my body than I do in the race itself. I try to do about 30 minutes, including the below session. I then do about 20 minutes for anything up to about 100 miles, and just get the legs going for a 12 hour. What you need to think about isn’t the distance or time it’s the effort or power output you’ll be doing. You put more power you are expecting to be producing the harder the warm-up. You don’t need to do it for that long during the warm-up just do it so it’s not a surprise to your body when you do it in the race. Small maximal efforts are enough to prepare your body for what’s about to come.
The British Cycling or Wattbike or Wiggo (depending on who you speak to!) warm-up:
5 minutes at cadence 90. 2 minutes at cadence 95. 2 minutes at cadence 100. 2 minutes at cadence 105. 1 minute 30 seconds at cadence 110. 30 seconds at cadence 120 or more (rev out). 2 minutes at cadence 90. 6 second sprint at maximum. 1 minute at cadence 90. 6 second sprint at maximum. 1 minute at cadence 90. 6 second sprint at maximum. 2 minutes 42 seconds at cadence 90.
Tailor this to you own needs. For example, I always get clients to do this warm-up when they come for a session. However, clients who are not regular cyclists might start at 70 cadence and work up, clients who are very strong will start at 90 but with more resistance. Analyse your data or look at your cycle computer to work out if the warm-up isn’t hard enough – you should be able to tell if it’s too hard!
When I do this before a race I do it on the road, this can be difficult as you can’t stare at your computer watching, so a lot of riders chose to do it on a turbo. Please check your start sheet before presuming this is ok as not all events allow it. Once done I just keep my legs ticking over (warm and moving) until my start time. Then I’m off!