The thought of completing a warm-up before you head out for a ride may seem a bit tedious and pointless if you aren’t at the professional level. This can especially be the case if you believe that an effective warm-up can take more 15 minutes out of your precious ride time.
However even a quick-fire five minute warm-up can provide an efficient and alternative way to activate your muscles prior to your rides. The importance of a warm-up cannot be underestimated no matter what level you are riding at and can be essential if coming back from a recent injury.
The myth of performing a successful warm-up just to help reduce the risk of potential injuries is false, as it can also lead to an increase in your performance on the bike itself as well. In the same way a car works better in the winter after its engine has warmed up for a few minutes, the same theory can be applied to your body before physical activity.
A warm-up itself may not seem vital during a long sportive where you progressively increase your speed into your constant effort for the ride ahead. However it can be just as important to warm up the mind than for the body itself. Completing a warm-up also means you can focus your mind on the ride ahead, meaning that decision making will come easier when out on the road when taking into account race strategy and pacing.
The basic rule of thumb to warm-ups implies that the longer the ride you are about to undertake, the shorter the warm up needed. Therefore this five-minute warm-up is the perfect length of time if you are heading out for a long Sunday ride or just before a sportive. Whereas if you are heading out for a short track sprint session then a longer warm up that includes bike work and increasing your heart rate may well be needed.
As with all warm-ups it is not necessarily a case of how long it is but whether it activates the correct muscles that you will be using on the bike.
The exercises used in our streamlined five minute warm up include:
Stand tall and reach stretch
This movement helps stretch and loosen out muscles in the back and torso as well as reducing tension in the spine as well as activating adductor muscles in the leg at the same time.
A variation of the stand tall and reach stretch, this exercise helps elongate the muscles in the posterior chain. Working them in a chain off the bike will replicate the same way in which the muscles work together when working them on it.
One of the most common body weight exercises activates the glutes and lower limb muscles in particular but engages a number of muscles throughout the body during cycling.
Usually used as part of a core strength session, but when completed correctly for a shorter amount of time it can engage the deep core muscles perfectly for the ride ahead.
The bridge and single leg bridge
The bridge exercise activates the hamstrings and glute muscles as well as increasing the strength of stabiliser muscles that are used during a pedal stroke. You can then increase the difficulty and engage the glute muscles further by completing the single leg bridge, which mimics the motion of the muscles when cycling.