It has long been known that warm-up before physical exercise can improve your performance significantly.
In many of my training programs, I actually recommend you to perform an incremental warm-up before interval training really starts.
Physiological benefits of warm-up
- Metabolic processes are temperature-dependent, thus many enzymes perform better at higher temperatures.
- Oxygen transport from blood to tissue is more rapid.
- Faster transmissions of nerve impulses.
Bottom line is that your body is better prepared for severe exercise after doing a proper warm-up.
In my opinion it’s an easy decision whether you should warm-up or not before important events. If you want to deliver the best performance in cycling races e.g. time trials then you should definitely learn how to warm-up. The best place to figure out what is the best warm-up protocol for you is when you perform difficult intervals.
Use the Trial and Error principle for Warm-Ups
It might sound a bit pragmatic but the best way to make a personal warm-up protocol is to use the principle trial and error. If you do difficult, intensive intervals sessions, it’s almost perfect test material to see how your warm-up protocol works. Yes, there are circumstances that are different at races. Since I expect you to perform regular interval training at least twice per week there should be lots of chances to try different setups…
Basic principles of warm-up before endurance events
- Start at low workloads. If you begin at a high workload, you spend too much anaerobic power too early due to oxygen dept. It’s demotivating and might decrease your performance.
- Make small increments in workload. When you’ve started your warm-up your oxygen consumption will go up. If you make small steps in workload during the warm-up, you will to a large degree avoid oxygen dept. That will prepare your body for the most important part of your training session: The interval training.
Example: Quick, effective warm-up before interval training (~15min)
1. Begin easy pedalling, ~100Watts.
2. Every 2min, increase workload ~35-50Watts depending on fitness level.
3. When you hit the lower limit of your heart rate target zone, take a short break.
4. Easy pedalling 3 to 5 minutes (if you are in a hurry, please skip this step)
5. Begin your interval training
Enough theory, take action!