What Warm up?

So here's the scene. You only have 45 minutes for a 60 minute Z5 workout. You need to find 15 minutes from nowhere so you do what looks like the easiest thing to do and try and cram a 10 minute warm up into 2 minutes. You then hit the first set of drills hard and everything unravels - lactate legs, heart rate through the roof, confidence takes a knock. I cant have been as fit as I thought I was...... Repeat this at the start of a race and you might as well chuck all that hard earned fitness in the bin because you won't perform to anywhere near your capability. So why do we warm up? The benefits of the warm up are as follows:
  • Increased muscle core-temperature which decreases the effort required for muscle contraction.
  • Allows for a gradual increase in metabolic processes.
  • Improved coronary blood flow in the early stages of exercise.
  • Enhanced cardiorespiratory performance, which allows higher maximum cardiac output and oxygen consumption.
  • Prevents the premature onset of lactate accumulation in the blood and fatigue during intense exercise.
  • Increased muscle temperature which decreases the likelihood of injury
  • Allows for a psychological warm-up, increasing motivation.
A proper warm-up optimises performance by allowing the body to prepare for higher workloads. It involves a gradual increase in effort to, or very near to, the intensity at which we intend to workout at. If your workout involves anaerobic capacity (Z5) intervals then your warm up needs to be longer and more intense than if you were going to do a set of tempo intervals (Z3). Here are a few warm up routines for various types of workouts or rides. 25 Minute pre race warm up 5 mins Z1 90rpm 2 mins Z2 95rpm 2 mins Z2/3 100rpm 2 mins Z3/4 105rpm 1 mins Z4 FTP 115rpm 2 mins easy 1 mins Z4 FTP 105rpm 2 mins Z3 100rpm 1 mins Z4 FTP 105rpm 30 sec sprint - 30 sec RI X2 5 mins Z2 90rpm 20 Minute pre anaerobic capacity (Z5) workout warm up 5 mins Z1 90rpm 3x1 min cadence drills 115rpm dropping back to 100rpm 2 mins Z3 100rpm 2 mins Z3/4 105rpm 5 mins Z4 FTP 100rpm 1 mins easy 15 Minute pre FTP (Z4) workout 5 mins Z1 build to Z2 95rpm 3x1 min cadence drills 115rpm dropping back to 100rpm 2 mins Z3 100rpm 2 mins Z3/4 105rpm 1 mins easy 10 Minute pre Tempo (Z3) workout 5 mins Z1 build to Z2 95rpm 2x1 min cadence drills 115rpm dropping back to 100rpm 1 mins Z3 100rpm 1 mins easy 5 Minute pre Endurance (Z2) workout 2 mins Z1 build to Z2 95rpm 2x30 sec cadence drills 115rpm dropping back to 100rpm 1 mins Z2 100rpm In general, begin your warm-up with low-intensity riding and increase the intensity as the warm-up progresses. Warm-up should not significantly affect energy stores or cause fatigue but you should feel like you are doing some work! I receive many questions about the warm up durations that we set in all of our training programmes. In general we set a minimum of 5 minutes for lower intensity workouts and 10 minutes for higher intensity workouts. However, these are very general minimum guidelines. Your warm up should not only be specific in terms of the workout or ride that is proceeding it, it should also be specific to you as an athlete. I know from personal experience that my warm up now needs to be longer and more intense at the ripe old age of 45 than it did when I was in my 20's. As with all sports, performance is the sum of many moving parts. Training, recovery, nutrition, mental attitude, equipment.......the warm up is a key component to performance that is often overlooked by many athletes. Do yourself a favour and make the most of what you have got and warm the engine up before you go out and crank up the revs. Be nice to yourself.