Why Warm Up and Cool Down are Essential to Your Success

20th October 2015

Warm up and cool down tend to be towards the bottom of the list when it comes to amateur cycling, whether that’s during training or an event, out on the road or training indoors.

Truth is, warm up and cool down are an essential elements of both training and competing. Warm up allows your body to perform at its best during your session and cool down will aid recovery, ultimately helping you to achieve your goals.

Why Warm Up?

Some keen athletes jump straight into their training session without thought of warming up. However, a proper warm up offers many benefits, including:

Increased muscle temperature – Both contraction and relaxation is enhanced in a warmed up muscle, which means you can experience a boost in speed and power.

Increased core temperature – Raising the core temperature increases the speed of nerve impulses which improves your reaction time.

Capillary dilation – When starting exercise, your body releases adrenaline which increases heart rate and causes dilation of the capillaries. This increases elasticity in the muscles and reduces the risk of injury.

Prepare yourself mentally – A warm up gives you time to prepare yourself for the training session or race ahead, use the same warm up routine before each session to build focus.

Wattbike Recommended Warm Ups

Based on training in power and heart rate zones, Wattbike recommend the following warm ups. Remember to complete your warm up 5-10 minutes before you start a session, you may also need to vary the warm up depending on the environmental conditions such as heat or humidity.

Recovery – Warm up for 5 minutes by pedalling slowly, choose a resistance level that allows you to pedal at 80-90 rpm below your recovery zone power and heart rate zone. If you’re using a Wattbike, select the model (Pro or Trainer) which gives you the right combination of resistance and rpm.

Zone 1 & 2 – Warm up for 5 – 10 minutes in recovery zone

Zone 3 – Ride a 10 minute progressive warm up through recovery, Zone 1 & Zone 2

Zones 4, 5 & 6 – Due to the nature of these high intensity sessions, they share a specific warm up based on your Maximum Minute Power. Find your session on the Wattbike website here.

Why cool down?

There are a number of benefits of a cool down after a high intensity session. It prevents blood from pooling in the extremities which can lead to dizziness and fainting, reduces heart rate and aids recovery.

Wattbike Recommended Cool Downs

If you are using a Wattbike to cool down, choose resistance level that allows you to pedal at 80-90 rpm whilst at the same time reducing heart rate. This will need a resistance level lower than the level used for warm up.

Recovery – Pedal slowly for 5 minutes at a resistance level that allows you to pedal at 80-90 rpm below your recovery zone power and heart rate zone.

Zone 1 & 2 – Ride for 5-10 minutes in recovery zone

Zone 3 – Ride for 10 minutes in recovery zone

Zones 4, 5 & 6 – Ride for 15-20 minutes in recovery zone.

If you want to find out more about the science behind warm up and cool down and discover more detailed sessions, visit the Wattbike warm up and cool down guide.