The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 10.11.15. “Warm, like you asked for it.”

Howdy folks,

Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday. It was just one of those days, was never able to get to the computer to get it done.


Today is a re-post of a piece that’s only about a month old, but enough people have asked me about the topic in the last week or so that it made sense to run it again. So here goes…

Let’s talk Warm Up…

First of all, don’t overdo it.

I see way, way too many people spending a ridiculous amount of time on their trainers before the race, and frankly, I think a huge number of racers leave their best effort of the day back in the tent on the Gerbil Wheel before the race.

Don’t let this be you.

If you feel like you need to spend more than an hour warming up for your race, frankly you’re doing something wrong.

There’s been a fair bit written about warming up for cycling events, and if you spend any time at all reading through some of the stuff that’s out there, you will no doubt find that the only commonality is that most everyone disagrees.

Until you start reading some of the science, and some of the warm-up protocols suggested by those who have also read the science.

Here’s an interesting study…

with an interesting conclusion…

During endurance events of intermediate duration (4-5 min), performance is enhanced by warm-up irrespective of warm-up intensity

Note, also this little tidbit –

There were no differences in anaerobic power output during the trials, but aerobic power output during the first 1000 m was larger during both EWU (203 W) and HWU (208 W) versus NWU (163 W) trials.

Huh. Go figure.

I pretty much never warm up for road races, unless I Know the first few K are going to be pedal to the metal.

When people ask how I can get away with this (and they do!) I always respond with “that’s what the first lap/loop/5k is for…”

You can’t really get away with this in Cyclocross.

You need to hit that first K, hell that first hundred meters at 100%, with all guns blazing.

Warming up definitely improves your aerobic power output over the first K of a race.

End of story. You need to warm up for Cyclocross.

How much do you need to warm up?

Well, here’s where we get into interesting territory.

The study I linked to above basically showed no difference between the results of warm ups conducted at different levels of intensity and duration. The key was simply to warm up, get the legs turning over.

However you do it, warming up helps.


Remember this the next time all hell breaks loose and you can barely get in any kind of a workout before your race. Even a little bit of a warm up helps.

OK, it’s just a study. Heck, it’s just one study.

Frankly, for Cyclocross, I think you need to warm up pretty hard, if for no other reason than that you don’t want the shock of that F-ing start effort to hit your body (and mind!) like a ton of bricks.

What you don’t need to do is warm up for a long time.

After a certain point, all a long warmup does is get you tired. And that ain’t good…


OK, so what should your warm up look like?

Something like this…

Get on your bike.

Ride at a super easy level for 5 minutes. No pressure on pedals, recovery day light.

5 minutes more at just one notch higher.

2-3 minutes at right around your 20 minute output level.


2-3 minutes at one notch/gear easier

30 second race pace effort.

recover for 2 minutes easy…

30 second race pace effort.

recover for 2 minutes…

2 full-gas start efforts, 2 minutes between them.

Spin for 5 minutes.

Go race.

That’s just the actual warm up, though.

You need to figure in course preview time, getting all your stuff schlepped to where it needs to be, registration… the whole package.

Heck, in a perfect world, you would go ride for an hour in the morning several hours before your race!

The whole shebang is what’s important, and in a perfect world, your race day would look something like this:

Wake up.

Eat breakfast.

Ride for an hour.

Snack, take a nap.

Eat lunch (3 hours before race.)

Course preview

(while mechanic preps bikes, team staff handles everything else.)

Snack, electrolyte drink, change into race clothing.

Warm up (that thing we just talked about)

Win Race.

Post-race cool down.

Yeah, right.

Oh well, we try.

Get as close to that as you can, and remember – the science shows that any warm up is better than none!

I’ve managed to do really well in races where the only warm up I got was a 1 or 2 lap preview of the course, and I know I’m not alone!

If you are forced to choose, always pre-ride rather than warm up.

You get a less than perfect course preview, and a less than perfect warm up, but part of each is better than none of one!

Ok, after all that, are you ready for the reality-based warm up?

Quite frankly, this is what I wind up doing most of the time, and almost always if I wind up stuck on the turbo. It’s the –

R.S.W.O. – The Rock Stupid Warm-up and Opener –

First, get everything you need to do before the race done. Sign up, course preview, etc., etc. More questions you probably didn’t even have on the topic of race day routine answered here –

– Get on trainer. Spin for about 5 minutes.

– 2-3 minutes at your 20 minute output level

– Shift into big ring/largest cog combination.

– Ride 30 seconds in this gear, then shift up one cog.

– Ride 30 seconds in this gear, then shift up one cog.

– Repeat until you hit the hardest gear you’ve got, or can handle.

– Ride 30 seconds in that gear, and then shift all the way back down to the Big/big combo.

– Ride 30 seconds in that gear, then immediately shift to hardest gear you can handle.

– Full gas sprint, out of the saddle, for 30 seconds.

Back to big/big combo.

– Spin for two minutes.

Repeat The entire sequence (Usually minus the 2nd “20 minute level” effort.)

Oddly enough, this really simple warm up winds up looking a whole heck of a lot like…


team sky warmup


That’s the actual Team Sky Time Trial warmup, photo is of a reminder sheet that was posted on the side of the team bus.

Go figure.

’nuff said?

Have fun,


* If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about when I say “20 minute level”, check this out…

** The Warm Up routines I describe here are actually pretty hard, and believe it or not, are likely to be too damn hard and too long for non-elite racers. You will need to experiment and figure out what works for you. Don’t be afraid to cut the warm up short, or go easier. You don’t get a prize for winning the warm up!


Yup. Check out…


…when you have a chance.

~ by crosssports on October 10, 2015.

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