Karyn Silenzi – ICG/Life Fitness Master Trainer North America, canfitpro PRO TRAINER
We can take our cues as to how important a warm-up is by watching any sporting event – from amateur to professional levels. The warm-up is a serious endeavor undertaken to achieve high levels of performance, prepare mentally for the task ahead, and to avoid injury. Warming up in cycling class serves a similar purpose. What should we be aware of in our class programming, regarding warming up?
Look for songs that will mentally and physically stimulate riders’ senses in a gradual build-up, while still giving you the space to speak without fighting to be heard over the lyrics. Use songs that have a build in energy and limited vocals, so you can explain your ride profile, cue form, and set the mood right from the start.
Everyone comes into a workout under a unique set of circumstances. Some members are stressed trying to shake work, childcare, or traffic off of their minds. Imagine that rider that comes in last, only to see that someone is on “their” bike and the only one left is the one in the corner far from the fan. Asking these riders to hit a certain cadence right off the bat might add to that stress. Use the warm-up to ease them into required work efforts raising heart rates and stress gradually.
At #teamICG, we believe that the warm-up can be done using PLS (Personal Leg Speed) and suggest a cadence range between 80-100 RPMs. The genre of the music typically dictates the BPM of a song, so if you have a song with the perfect energy but isn’t appropriate for beat matching during the warm-up, “let it roll”. Guide riders to find a cadence they are comfortable with anywhere between 80-100 RPMs.
At rest, the majority of your smaller blood vessels (capillaries) within your muscles are closed. Gradual increases in effort creates blood flow to working muscles, allowing more capillaries to open. With that comes an increase in muscle temperature. The hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature and more blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the muscles means better future performance. That increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. As a result, nerve transmission and muscle metabolism are increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.
At ICG we suggest warm-ups be up to 8 minutes long in white and blue, but having said that, there are many factors which dictate how long a warm-up should be:
Time of day – This week one of our Master Trainers went back to teaching her 5:30 am classes. Kimberly probably has some thoughts on what her and her riders needed for that early morning ride!Time of year – winter conditions may impact riders’ needs differently than summer.
Class length – a 120 min class warm-up will look very different from a 45 min class warm-up.
Class profile – HIIT vs steady-state means different levels of preparedness prior to the main set.
Audience – Mature riders need a bit more time to warm up and recover.
Profile Requirements. For classes that require suprathreshold efforts (Z5+/Red), it is recommended that we prepare the body leading into the main set, taking care not to overly deplete precious glucose/glycogen stores. Short efforts involving increased cadence and power output can be done by programming short accelerations, power bursts, or HSPO (Hill Speed Overtake) to bring riders into those higher zones for limited periods of time. Similar to our 5-min and 20-min FTP warm ups which can be found on your ICG app, you’ll see bursts of power and cadence followed by lower efforts which prepares riders for efforts they will face during testing. Design your warm-up to gradually mimic efforts they will face throughout your ride. This is referred to as Post Activation Potentiation.
Do you have songs that you absolutely love to use in your warm-ups? Do you use them because they allow you to do any of the above, whether it is energy, cadence, duration, or just the perfect song to prepare for the upcoming efforts? Feel free to share them here, add something else that you find critical in your class warm-up, or ask about anything that you are still not clear about. We are here for you.