With limited time to exercise, taking the time to warm up before your ride is a chore most cyclists forgo. But the truth is, spending the extra 15 minutes to warm up properly before your workout can make injuries less likely, ease soreness and activate muscle groups that are often turned off from sitting all day.
Make this quick routine a pre-ride habit to boost your performance during training rides and races and keep any nagging aches and pains at bay.
PRIME YOUR MUSCLES
Before you begin any workout, you’ll need to get your blood going and warm up your muscles. This is especially important if you’ve been sitting for most of the day when joints can become stiff and muscle groups can deactivate. Prior to any stretching or exercises, this quick dynamic routine can help get you going.
Jumping Jacks and Downward Dog: Because jumping jacks involve the entire body, it’s a great way to get your muscles going prior to your workout. Alternating with dynamic downward dogs also helps alleviate stiffness in the spine and posterior chain.
- Complete 1 minute of jumping jacks or jumping rope.
- Move to a pushup position.
- Walk your hands back into a downward dog position. After you feel a stretch, walk your hands back to the starting position. Repeat 3–5 times.
- Repeat the circuit three times.
MOBILITY AND CORE
Now that your muscles are warm and you’ve raised your core body temperature, you’ll need to work on activating the core muscles and increasing the mobility of your spine. Core activation prior to exercise helps you generate maximum power, makes your pedal stroke as efficient as possible and ensures muscle groups like your glutes are turned on and ready to fire after long periods of being sedentary.
Mobility exercises help you maintain good posture on the bike and keep stress from moving to areas like the neck, shoulders and lower back that can tire easily during long or hard rides. While the exact exercise routine you complete can vary depending on your preferences or areas of concentration, these three exercises are a good place to start and target areas important for cycling.
Planks activate the core and ensure there is a strong connection between your arms and legs.
The move: On your elbows, maintain a flat back and a straight line from your shoulders to ankles. Contract the glutes and squeeze the abdominals as you hold. Keep in mind that you don’t need to hold the position for minutes; two sets of 10 seconds are all you need.
Clamshells are an excellent exercise to open up your hips and activate your glute muscles. If you prefer an alternative exercise, you can try single-leg bridges instead.
The move: Lie on your side with both knees bent to 90 degrees and your hips stacked. Rest your head on your arm for comfort. Bring your knees up toward your chest until your feet are in line with your glutes. Keeping your abs tight and your feet together, raise the top knee without letting your hips rotate backward, keeping the bottom leg on the ground. Complete 3 sets of 5–8 repetitions on each side.
Seated Spinal Twists
For mobility, spinal twists help loosen the thoracic and lumbar spine while also helping to relieve tension in the piriformis and iliotibial band, which can be common trouble spots for cyclists.
The move: Begin in a seated position with both legs straight in front of you. While keeping your left leg straight, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the ground just outside of your left outer thigh. Rotate your torso to the right, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Your right hand can be placed on the ground behind you for balance. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on each side three times.
SPIN ON THE BIKE
Once your muscles are primed and activated, it’s time to get on the bike. Before you get into your workout, a quick spinning routine can help your legs get loose and ready for hard efforts ahead. Keep in mind that if you’re doing a short race like a time-trial, your on-the-bike spinning routine needs to be longer and at a higher intensity. For most other workouts, a few minutes of high-cadence spinning should do the trick.
- Pedal easily for one minute at a cadence of around 90rpm.
- Switch to a slightly more difficult gear and raise your cadence to 110rpm or higher for 30 seconds.
- Repeat four times.
The general rule is the shorter and more intense your workout is, the longer your warmup should be. If you are going on a long ride at low intensity, the above warmup should be all you need. If you plan to ride a hard interval session, another 5–10 minutes of easy spinning with a few additional 10-second spin ups at a high intensity may be necessary.