WHAT IT IS
A short effort before a ride or race.
WHAT IT DOES
Preps your body to work hard. It helps your muscles contract faster, and you can sustain a higher heart rate. Blood flow also speeds up, delivering fuel to and removing waste from muscles faster.
WHEN AND HOW MUCH
It depends on the event. For a century or fondo, you might do a shorter one or use the first 10 miles as the warm-up. For a time trial or hill climb, in which you need to go all-out from the start, get in 30 to 45 minutes beforehand. Try these sample warm-ups from Hunter Allen, founder of Peaks Coaching Group and coauthor of Cutting-Edge Cycling.
Stick to Your Plan: Warm up too hard or for too long and you’ll dip into precious energy stores, says Allen. Cut it short and you may struggle at the beginning of your event.
Take 10: Aim to finish warming up about 10 minutes before it’s go time, says Allen.
Adjust for Weather: On a chilly day, it’s okay to warm up for longer or time it so you finish closer to the event start. In hot weather, keep it minimal. Your muscles will heat up quickly. The longer your event is, the shorter your warm-up should be.