How to warm up for a race or time trial
A good warm-up routine is essential in a number of cycling disciplines. Events such as time trials, criteriums, and even some shorter road races, can often start at a very high intensity, and any riders who aren't ready will find themselves suffering as soon as the flag is dropped. We guide you through two specific warm-ups with the help of our pro riders.
A good warm-up routine is essential in a number of cycling disciplines. Events such as time trials, criteriums and even some shorter road races, can often start at a very high intensity, and any riders who aren't ready will find themselves suffering as soon as the flag is dropped.
Pre-race warm-ups generally include a gradual increase of intensity over a period of time, before a number of very short intense efforts get the heart rate up, and lets the body know what to expect. During the warm-up your heart rate should be increased progressively, enabling more oxygen to be transported through your blood to and used within the working muscles. With increased body temperature, the range of motion around your joints will also improve and you will get close to your optimal efficiency very quickly.
While the overall concepts of warm-up plans remain consistent, most riders have a routine that they have adapted over time, that they feel works best for them. We've added tips from professional riders, Graham Briggs and Felix English, to our how to guide.
Criterium and Cyclo-cross warm-up
Criteriums and cyclo-cross races are usually only an hour long, so the action starts immediately. If you aren't engaged and your muscles are cold it can mean missing an early race winning move.
"I make sure that everything is set up with the bike on the trainer and that I can hop on exactly one hour before the race is due to start”, explains JLT Condor rider, Graham Briggs.
5–8 minutes — easy or around 80–180 watts
8 minutes in zone 2
6 minutes in zone 3
4 mins of riding a threshold
2 x 30–40 efforts above threshold - working from a high gear and low cadence to a much faster spin
Rest for 1 minute between each effort and do easy pedalling
Time trial warm-up
Former JLT Condor rider, Felix English, talks us through his warm-up for time trials. "I think that all riders have to be able to get their head around their warm-up and believe in it, as it can be a tough thing to do, and there are often a lot of potential distractions in a pre-race situation.
In an effort over a short distance, every pedal rev counts, and I need to get to the start ramp feeling like I am completely ready to give it everything for the full distance of the course."
5 minutes steady zone
5 minutes endurance zone (zone 3)
5 minutes at threshold
3 minutes recovery
3 x 10 second sub max sprint with 1 minutes recovery between each effort
5 minutes endurance zone (zone 3)
Things to remember:
- The shorter the event the longer you should spend warming up.
- Make a time sheet to help your warm-up go as smoothly as possible.
- Make a list counting down from when you arrive to the start of the race.
- Allow 10 minutes extra warm-up time for setting up, going to the toilet, and stopping to remove clothing.
- Warm-up essentials help you get into race mode more easily. Whatever you use on your turbo trainer at home, try to transfer it to your on-the-day warm-up.
- Pre-pack your warm-up essentials the night before; favourite headphones, riser block, spare towel, warm-up cream, and extra water bottle for the warm-up.
- If you have a favourite music playlist, make sure it is available 'offline' as your warm-up may be in an area without Wi-Fi or 3G signal.
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