The Best Warm-Up Routine before Cycling
Cycling is both a sport and a healthy and environmentally friendly means of transportation. Some people combine the two and take long rides into the countryside, admiring the scenic landscape and exercising in an exciting manner, in the middle of nature. Other people take up cycling for speed, endurance or cross-country racing. Whatever your reason for getting on the bicycle, there is one thing you must do: warm up before your start cycling.
Warming up is a standard routine for all kinds of sports, but not everyone does it consistently. While for professional athletes warming up is second nature, amateur cyclists do not realise the risks of starting on a long bicycle ride without preparing their bodies for the extra effort. Thus, they expose themselves to various injuries, especially muscle strains and micro-tearing at fibre level.
So, today we will discuss warm-up routines for cyclists. We have discussed with various trainers and professional cyclists and gathered various opinions and recommendations from them. Thus, we were able to synthesise a simple but effective warm-up routine which every cyclist should do before starting a race or a long-distance ride.
Stretching Routine before You Get on the Bike
Stretching represents a series of exercises which stimulate the flexibility and endurance of the muscles, preparing them for the effort they need to sustain. Stretching before exercising is recommended for all athletic and fitness routines, because it minimises the risk of suffering injuries. For cyclists, these are the best types of stretching routines:
- The Shoulder Reach
Shoulders do a lot of work in cycling. They keep the direction of the bike, help you turn right or left, and create a point of stability for your posture. The worst thing which could happen while you are pedalling downhill at high speed or taking a tricky curve is to get a shoulder cramp. In order to prevent this, do this simple stretching exercise:
Lift your arms high above your head, perfectly straight and as close to the head as possible. Keep this position and start shrugging your shoulders up and down in a series of 10 stretches. Take a break and repeat.
- The Knee Kick
Knees are also vital in cycling, and you must take extra care to keep them well trained and flexible for the continuous effort they have to do. The knee kick stretching routine will help you a lot in this respect. As you stand up, lift your knee up to your chest, hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. This exercise should be done in a series of 10 stretches per each knee, progressing to 30 in small increments.
- The Cyclist’s Squat
Surely everyone has done regular squats, but this specific type of stretching involves your bicycle as well. Put the support bar down, so that your bike is stable and grab the tube and the handle bar with your hands. Proceed to squat as low as you can, while keeping your soles flat on the ground. Maintain the squatting position for a few seconds, stand up and repeat 10 to 20 times.
- The Quad Stretch
Quadriceps take quite a beating during cycling, so keeping them well trained and flexible is a must. There are a series of stretching routines especially for this group of muscles, however the simplest is to face a wall at arm’s length, place your palms firmly on the wall and take a large step forward, until the knee is bent at 90 degrees. Keep the pose for 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat with the other leg, creating a series of 10 stretches per leg, with a smooth progression to 20 and even 30.
On the Bicycle
Now that you have finished your stretching exercises, it is time to get on the bike…and continue your warming up for 10 to 20 minutes, increasing your pedalling cadence progressively and checking that your bicycle works well. If you are using a sports bike with several speeds, check all the gears during the warm-up and do not launch yourself into a full speed race until you are satisfied that you are fully in control of your bicycle.
Remember that together with the warm-up routine, it is also very important to ride a well-adjusted and maintained bicycle, and to take it to a specialist for an inspection if you feel anything amiss in the way it is working.
The SPI Team