4 Bike Warm-Up Sets

Perhaps you've decided to do an indoor trainer session due to weather, low daylight or efficient use of your time. On some days you want a simple warm-up set such as spinning for 15 to 20 minutes at a self-selected cadence at Zone 1 to 2 intensity. Other times you would prefer a warm-up with more structure, drill work and intensity. Here are four warm-up sets you can use on the front-end your next workout.

1. Warm up with isolated leg drills

This warm-up encourages each leg to produce a smooth pedal stroke, independent of the other leg's assistance.

8 minutes: Spin at Zone 1 to 2 intensity to warm up your legs.
12 minutes: Complete four cycles of the following set:         

Use your right leg to produce 100 percent of the power for 30 seconds. Aim for a smooth pedal stroke. Your left leg can rest on a chair next to the trainer or you can just try to unweight the non-working leg so it produces minimal power.  

Immediately follow the right leg with the left leg producing 100 percent of the power for 30 seconds. Following the left leg going solo, spin with both legs for two minutes.

Repeat the sequence four times to total 20 minutes for your warm-up. Consider changing which leg goes first in each sequence.

2. Warm up with increasing rpm

Intentionally varying your rpm with no load helps prepare your legs for higher loads and power output in the main set.

5 minutes: Spin at a self-selected rpm at Zone 1 to 2 intensity.

15 minutes: Repeat the following sequence 3 to 5 times:                 

1 minute at 90 rpm, 1 minute at 100 rpm, 1 minute at 100+ rpm, and 2 minutes at your choice of rpm to recover at Zone 1 intensity.

3. Warm up with varying tension, seated and standing

Small increases in load and power output during warm-up prepares your body for longer efforts during the main set.

5 minutes: Spin at a self-selected rpm at Zone 1 to 2 intensity.
9-15 minutes: Repeat the following set three to five times:         

Increase the tension to simulate a moderate hill and remain seated for 30 seconds. Increase the tension slightly and remain seated for another 15 seconds. Increase tension again and get out of the saddle for 15 seconds. Get seated and decrease the tension so you can spin at Zone 1 to 2 intensity for two minutes. Aim for progressively increasing power output on the final 15 seconds throughout the warm-up.

4. Warm up with 90 seconds at goal pace

A 90-second work bout is a good length to prepare your body for time-trial-type work in the main set.

10 minutes: Spin at a self-selected rpm at Zone 1 to 2 intensity.

Repeat the following set four to six times:

Increase tension to produce the power or intensity goal for the main set of your workout. Ride 90 seconds at that tension setting. If you are using heart rate goals, heart rate begin lower and settle in at your goal intensity for the remainder of the 90 seconds. You will find that as you do more repeats, your target heart rate is achieved earlier in the interval. This is expected and desired. Take three minutes of easy recovery between each 90-second work bout.

Outside too

You can also ditch the trainer and use these as part of your outdoor warm up. Use a good warm-up routine to help prepare your body, and mind, for higher workloads in the main set.

Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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