Warm-up cycling mountain bike

Warming up before a race or workout

Do you exercise regularly and don’t know whether you are warming up properly? Regardless of the exercise you will be performing, a good warm-up is essential for preparing the body, avoiding injury and improving performance.

Generally speaking, a proper warm-up before a training session or race should follow some general guidelines. The first one refers to sweating and raising your internal body temperature. A good sign of a proper warm-up is when you start sweating because it signals an increased internal temperature, which is one of the goals of warming up.

The second advice is that the warm-up should be progressive. You should begin with a lower intensity and raise it progressively until you start to sweat. Monitor the warm-up intensity using a power meter, a heart rate monitor or even the rate of perceived exertion scale (Borg, 1998). A progressive effort to the aerobic threshold (FTP) or slightly above it is usually sufficient.

The third recommendation relates to the ambient temperature. Cold days require longer warm-ups, but since it is cold, we tend to want to increase the intensity of the exercise in order to increase muscle heat production. Due to the increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries, our suggestion is to warm-up indoors using rollers, a trainer or treadmill and then go outside. If you can't warm-up indoors, make sure you wear appropriate insulated clothing until your body is warm enough for outdoors.

Finally, our last guidance is based on the intensity of the workout or race to follow. Workouts or races that begin with an intense component require an effective warmup due to the increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Do it properly by taking our first three recommendations into account and ensure the success of your workout or race.

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Written by Fabiano C Araujo
Last revision: 29-may-2019