Training

The warm up and cool down

Warming up is an essential part of any training session. Whether you’re tackling an endurance workout at low intensity or an interval session at high intensity, the warm up will have a significant and positive impact on your performance during training.

While there is little to be gained by attempting to replicate what professional cyclists go through during training, there is a lot to be learned from their warm-up and cool-down regimes.

Many riders skip the warm up because they don’t see the point in it, but there are benefits.  The purpose of the warm up is to increase muscle and core temperature, blood flow and improve the uptake, transport and utilisation of oxygen. The warm up should progress gradually and reach an intensity that achieves the aforementioned objectives without causing fatigue or reducing energy stores – in reality you should start to sweat and be slightly breathless.

And the benefits are not just physical. A warm up also increases your alertness as the increased body temperature enables nerve impulses to travel more quickly, thus improving reaction time. For some there are also psychological benefits, especially if you are superstitious and perform the same routine each time you ride.

The duration and intensity of your warm up very much depends on the type of training session you are undertaking. If you’re using a Wattbike, the warm up can be as finely tuned as your training sessions as it will be based on your personal power and heart rate training zones. This will help you to get maximum gains from every training session.

Each training session in the Wattbike Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 Training Plan is undertaken in various power zones specific to your current fitness. Wattbike has produced a range of recommended warm ups from a short five-minute session for recovery and endurance training to a full 20-minute warm up for high-intensity and test sessions.

Click here for an explanation of power and heart rate training zones. Getting the warm up just right for you takes time and you may need to adjust the resistance levels on your Wattbike to achieve that perfect sweet spot without causing fatigue before you begin to train. Our recommendation is to set the resistance low and increase as necessary on each subsequent warm up until it feels just right.

Recommended warm ups

The recommended warm up for the different types of sessions are:

  • Recovery session - Warm up for five minutes (slow pedalling, resistance level 1, 60 rpm), repeat for cool down.
  • Zone 1 & Zone 2 session - Warm up for five to 10 minutes at recovery zone (less than 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate or less than 35 maximum minute power), repeat for cool down.
  • Zone 3 session - Warm up for 10 minutes progressive – roughly three minutes at recovery zone (less than 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate or less than 35 maximum minute power) to three minutes at zone 1 (60-65 per cent of your MHR or 35-45 MMP) to three minutes at zone 2 (65-75 per cent of your MHR or 45-55 MMP), cool down for 10 minutes at recovery zone (less than 60 per cent of your MHR or less than 35 MMP).
  • Technique session, Zone 4 and Zone 5 session and 3’ & 20’ Tests - Use the specific 20-minute warm up below:
Time Cadence
5' 90
2' 95
2' 100
2' 105
1'30" 110
30" Rev out 120-130
2' 90
6" Max rev out 150+
1' 90
6" Max rev out 150+
1' 90
6" Max rev out 150+
2'42" 90

If you’ve watched a professional cycle race such as the Tour de France or Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic you’ll have seen riders warming up by their team bus to help prepare their bodies for the main event. Some of the top teams use exactly the same 20-minute warm-up as outlined above so you’re in good company.

Cooling down is also crucial if you’re to get the most benefit out of every training session. If you don’t cool down following a training session then you may find that you feel fatigued, stiff and generally lethargic when you come to do your next training session. The cool down helps to return the body to normal, bringing the heart rate and body temperature down in a controlled manner while also reducing the lactate levels.

Recommended cool downs

The recommended cool down for the different types of sessions are:

  • Recovery – five minutes slow pedalling (resistance level 1, 60 rpm)
  • Zone 1 & Zone 2 – five to 10 minutes at recovery zone (less than 60 per cent of your MHR or less than 35 MMP).
  • Zone 3 - 10 minutes at recovery zone (less than 60 per cent of your MHR or less than 35 MMP).
  • Technique, Zone 4, Zone 5 and 3’ & 20’ Tests – 15-20 minutes at recovery zone (less than 60 per cent of your MHR or less than 35 MMP).

If you miss a warm up and cool down before and after every training session you’ll also miss out on some of the big gains you should be making during your training. Instead, ensure every pedal stroke counts on the road to the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.