Warm up right

How should you warm up before you ride? That depends on what kind of ride you have planned, says’s senior coach Ric Stern.

“While it’s possible to go for a ride without warming up, for a race or fast-starting sportive, it’s essential and should be part physiological, part psychological and part ‘engineering’,” says Stern.


Don’t static stretch pre-ride – instead warm up on a bike: “Research supports prior ‘heavy’ exercise before a main exercise bout,” says Stern. “The shorter and faster the race, the longer the warm-up, and more intense the ‘heavy’ efforts. Longer events might not need a warm-up unless they start fast, like a road race, which needs an intense warm-up.”


“A warm-up can help you prepare mentally for the job ahead and where you do it can help. For example, for a crit do at least part of the warm-up on the circuit. This will help you to learn lines, speeds and braking points. For a road race, warm up on the circuit with the warm-up routine below if possible. For a time trial, it’s often best to isolate yourself on a turbo trainer with the workout below while listening to music.”


“It’s vital to leave some time for making sure your bike is working correctly,” says Stern. “Check the brakes, quick release levers and gears. Also, check you have the right drink, food and bottles, plus a pump, tubes and patch kit if you’re riding a sportive.”

Example warm-up

  • 5 minutes easy. Check your bike works properly!
  • 5 minutes at heart-rate zone 1 (60-75% maximum heart rate – find your heart rate zones here, building to zone 2 (65-75% maximum heart rate).
  • 5 minutes at zone 3 (75-82% maximum heart rate).
  • 30 seconds easy.
  • 2 x 3 minutes relatively hard (around 10 mile TT effort) with 2 minutes easy between efforts. If you’re warming up it could take a few minutes for your heart rate to catch up – even at above race effort. Aim for the intensity of 10-mile pace, which might look too easy on your heart rate monitor at first.
  • 5 minutes easy.
  • 2 ‘moderate’ sprints of 5 seconds each for any event that may include a sprint in it.
  • 5 minutes easy.
  • 10 minutes resting (not exercising).
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