Breaking Down a Cyclist's Warmup

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 co-author of Cutting-Edge Cycling.

More: 4 Bike Warm-Up Sets

Event: Criterium, Hill climbs of less than 5 miles, Cyclocross
Warm-Up: 20 minutes easy // 4 x (1 minute fast pedaling at 120 rpms plus 1 minute easy) // 5 minutes all-out // 5 minutes easy.

Event: Road race of less than 60 miles, Metric century
Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes easy // 5 x (1-2 minutes 85 percent race pace plus 2-3 minutes recovery) // 5 minutes easy.

Event: Road race greater than 60 miles, Century Ride, Fondo
Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes easy // 5 minutes tempo (about 80 percent race pace) // 5 minutes easy.

Event: Ultra-endurance events greater than 5 hours
Warm-Up: 10 minutes easy pedaling as you roll out from the start

More: Warm Up or Die

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.

More: Warm-Ups Can Make or Break Your Racing

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