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How many times have you jumped on your bike and sprinted to your morning ride meeting point? Or plowed straight into a #smashfest session on the Wattbike without second thought of warming up?
When it comes to amateur cycling, warm up and cool down tend to be at the bottom of a long list of priorities, but they should be essential aspects of your training and racing schedule. We’ve detailed the top five reasons why you might want to reconsider them:
1. You could experience a boost in speed and power. If you’re reaching a speed and power plateau during your session, try a warm up before you start. By warming up, you enhance the contraction and relaxation of your muscles which, in many cases, can result in a small increase in speed and power.
2. You will improve your reaction time. If you undertake a warm up before your ride, you’ll raise your core temperature which increases the speed of nerve impulses. This results in improved reaction times and could be a key benefit if you’re out on the road or in a race situation.
3. Reduce the risk of injury. A lower intensity warm up before your session helps your body release adrenaline which increases your heart rate and dilates your capillaries. This results in increased muscle elasticity which in turn reduces the risk of picking up injuries.
4. Prepare yourself mentally. Before a race or tough session, you need to mentally prepare yourself to ensure you get the best results. What better time to focus and get ‘in the zone’ than when you’re warming up?
5. Aids your recovery. Incorporating a cool down into your training safely reduces your heart rate gradually whilst still keeping your blood circulating. This moves waste products away from the muscles and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which all aids better recovery.
Now you know the benefits of warming up and cooling down, it’s time to incorporate them into your everyday training. The best warm up or cool down depends on the intensity of your session. You can find our full guide, including recommended warm ups and cool downs for each training zone here.
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