Warm up vs line up

On today’s podcast (355), Coach Chad said the physical benefits of a warmup were essential gone after 5-10 minutes. Given that many races require you to be on the start line for that long (longer if you have to fight for a good spot in the front), does that mean there aren’t physical benefits to a warm up?

I’m open to being corrected if I misunderstood.

FWIW, my own warmups for crits and short road races are typically 20-40 minutes of easy riding with a few openers thrown in.

I thought similar (although I 'm a TT’er) but I’ve also thought that having done some sort of warm up even though I’ve cooled down as long as its not an hours wait I’ll warm up faster again during the race. Its just a feeling/ thought though I’ve no actual evidence. That said, some of my best results have came when I’ve done no specific warm up.

I don’t agree that a warm-up is completely gone after 5-10 minutes. At least your 2nd warmup during the start of the race will come on faster.

What kind of openers?

I like to rev the engine for a warmup. Like 5 minutes easy Z2, then step it up to tempo for a couple of minutes, rest a minute or two, sweet spot for 2 minutes, raise the HR gently, rest a minute or two, and then rev the engine again up near the threshold HR for a couple of minutes, then back to Z2. This will get the aerobic engine firing on all cylinders.

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I also don’t agree that the physical benefits of a warm up are gone after 5-10 minutes. This is particularly true if you are racing first thing in the morning and the race is going to be pretty much your first physical activity of the day other than sitting in the car. Take anybody 40+ in age and test them at 8:30 am race start on a Saturday morning after after a 45 minute drive and I bet they feel better with a warm up, even if that warmup ended 30 minutes before the race start :wink:

I’d imagine that its possible to test a lab and not see any physical evidence of the warm up after a period of time but I don’t think you can actually measure all the physical benefits and you definitely don’t see the psychological benefits in lab data.

Also, warm ups have a huge psychological component too which should not be ignored. And there are numerous practical considerations such checking equipment, course recon (even if just part of it) plus a scheduled warm up leaves you a time buffer is something goes wrong that needs attention or time pre race.

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To clarify, he didn’t simply state it as his opinion, but he was citing a body of research that showed benefits decreasing or disappearing after 5-10 minutes.

Decreasing I can absolutely see…disappearing, not so much.


It depends on your strength relative to the field. If you’re one of the fitter riders, line up for sure! You can use the first fast 5-10 minutes as your warm up and save some bullets for the end that you otherwise would have spent on a warm-up. For a shorter race (crit or rr), if you are one of the less fit riders in the group, and it’s questionable whether or not you will hang on to the initial surge of the pack, then warm-up. Staying with the group is everything.

For a long gravel race, see if you can hire someone to carry you and your bike to the start. Not being super warm will keep you from going too hard at the beginning, and the fields are usually large enough that you should have a decent sized group either way. At the end of a gravel race, I always think of those easy bullets I spent before the race even started and wish I had them.

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How to warm up like a Pro - Oxygen uptake kinetics part 3: Priming exercise - YouTube

Priming/warm up can last for a lot longer than 5-10min.

No offence to Chad, but I’m going with Dr Mark Burnley on this one.

Gerbino et al. (1996) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8847338/ MacDonald et al. (1997) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9338442/ Burnley et al. (2000) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11007… Jones et al. (2003) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14652… Burnley et al. (2005) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15870… Bailey et al. (2009) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19797… Ingham et al. (2013) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22868…

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Studies have very low sample sizes. Not a lot of confidence in the outcomes

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