The Science of the Warmup

Hi All,

I have a question/discussion prompt regarding the warm up and what this may/may not show about the athlete in question.

First a little bit of background. I have a past in highly competitive swimming (which I’ll touch on more later).

I got into cycling through triathlon around 7 years ago, and have been a TrainerRoad user since beta (consistent subscriber, inconsistent training depending on goals).

This morning I completed Lamarck (4x10 @ FTP). I am fairly certain that my FTP is higher than before (though still lower than all time peaks) BUT during today’s workout I found each 10 minute interval to be easier than the last, to the point where my 4th interval was comfortable!

I know this is not a set up issue (Powertap P1; dual sided; linked to tacx neo).

Avg HR was 146, 151, 151, 151 for the 4 intervals but perceived exertion dropped throughout the session.

To link this back to my swimming days, I was a 1500m Freestyle swimmer (PR 17:04 LCM) but within this PR I also set PRs on the final 800m, 400m and 200m which is rare to say the least! I used to preface this event with a substantial warmup (3000-4000m).

I am certain that all of this evidence points towards my strengths being long high end of aerobic session, likely why I do much better over IM distance tri than sprints (respectively).

Based on this, should I be spending more time warming up for FTP assessments, or given that the workouts typically have a similar warmup timescale (if not protocol, though these also seem similar across the TR workouts I do) does this not matter.

My thinking is that I may be ‘under assessing FTP’ but then training at appropriate levels as I am also ‘under warmed-up’ for the sessions (all of which are achievable). The issue would they be that I am pacing overly conservatively for IM distance racing based off of FTP (whether FTP is appropriate for 5+ hour pacing is another discussion).

I suspect that in this case the above is true, but in actual fact 'under pacing ’ an IM may allow for a better run and therefore a better performance overall

This however wouldn’t hold true for a 100 mile TT for example.

What are peoples thoughts on this…does it really matter if the workouts are suitably difficult?

I don’t think the 4th interval of Lamarck should ever be “comfortable”, even for a diesel engine kind of rider.

When did you last do a ramp test? And how do you find 120% intervals at your current FTP?

Maybe re-test, then when you do threshold again, just bump up the intensity for the later intervals if you think you can handle it.

Last ramp test was 11th Feb (it was a decrease in FTP vs my last one but I had been off the bike a lot due to being offshore with work). I have a recovery week next week then scheduled a re-test anyway. I suspect that this may have factored into it…riding high end sweet spot rather than FTP. 3 x 6 at 120% is tough but achievable at this FTP (for example Kaiser that I did on Tuesday). Though again I found the 4th interval onward to be “easier” than the first 3.

Maybe it is all in my head and pushing past halfway is a psychological win rather than a physiological ‘easing’?

Comfortable may come across easier than intended, but it was very manageable and I could likely have kept going for a good while longer. At this FTP I feel confident that I could complete the ‘Hour Record’ workout challenge described elsewhere on the forum.

Bumping up intensity as the workout goes on seems like a good option.

That all being said, there must be others out there that find long intervals get easier throughout the session?

Sounds like your FTP might be low. BUT…

I have always thought the TR warm-ups to be a bit on the short side. I could easily add 10-20min of warmup if time was not an issue. As such, I always find the warm-up spikes as well as the first interval to typically suck, even if it is only tempo. If it is a longer 20-30min interval or long continuous tempo of like 1hr-2hr, the first 15min is usually the worst and then I feel like all systems open up, relax, and are purring along.

Regardless of the warmup, the last interval can go a few different ways. It could be a me vs TR deathmatch because Coach Chad decided X was not enough and that X+1 intervals was necessary :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:Or because it is the last interval, it becomes easier than the all of the previous ones. I chalk this up to knowing the pain is about to end, seeing the finish line! :relieved:

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Agree with what is said about the warm ups being short. I often extend them when I have the time. Often I find the warm up harder than the intervals themselves!

I think you’re just a mutant, not a bad thing. But seriously, no the last interval is not easy if my FTP is set correctly. As mentioned before sometimes psychologically I can push myself harder than say the penultimate interval (central governor theory and all that) but its only “comfortable” if Im stronger than my FTP .

And a 3,000-4,000M warm up? Good to know your warmup is an IM swim. As I said, mutant :man_superhero:

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