She asked “Why do I need to warm-up or cool-down?“.
As I have mentioned previously, I recently completed an 8 week training program prescribed by the American College of Sports Medicine. This is not the first time I have completed the program. It is what I do in the cold, wet months when I cycle less. I do the workouts indoors on a spinning bike focussing on endurance, speed and technique.
This year, I did something a little differently. First, twice a week I included a modified strength training workout that focused on the legs and core. Single-leg squats, planks, hamstring curls and a variety of Pilates exercises. After all, this is the cycling engine. And secondly, I included a 10-15 minute warm-up and cool-down before and after each and every session, regardless how I may have felt. In the past, I would neglect this thinking I didn’t have the time or, that it wasn’t really necessary. It’s the workout that counts. Right?
Not so fast.
There are real benefits to a warm-up and cool-down. I experience less muscle soreness following workouts and recover more quickly which allows me to workout more frequently.
When I cycle outside, I seldom warm-up or cool-down. I simply jump on the bike and go. I may start out slowly but always finish fast and hard and then, hit the shower. This season, I am going to at least make an effort to cool-down (and stretch) following every ride.
I said to her “These are the reasons you warm-up and cool-down … ”
The warm-up …
- increases the body temperature
- reduces the potential for muscle and connective tissue injuries
- delivers more blood (and nutrients) to the muscles
- increases blood flow to the heart reducing the occurrence of exercise-induce cardiac events
- makes the muscles more supple helping to reduce injury
- prepares the cardiovascular system for a workout
- reduces excessive muscle soreness, and
- prepares the athlete mentally for what is ahead (a hard workout)
The cool-down …
- avoids sudden dizziness
- reduces muscle soreness by distributing built up lactic acid away from the muscles, and
- enables blood to circulate throughout the body caring nutrients and oxygen to the muscles accelerating recovery
Some of this is controversial.
Some athletes do not prescribe to the need for a warm-up or cool-down and, point out there is no conclusive medical evidence to prove either reduced muscle soreness or faster recovery. Personally, I believe it depends on how you define workout. A workout means different things to different people. Some workouts are more taxing than others.
I can comment on what I experience. My workouts were (and still are) difficult, taxing my leg muscles and heart to the limit. They are more demanding than most of my road rides. I find if I do not warm-up and cool-down for 10-15 minutes, I am sore and tired the next day.
Do you warm-up? Cool-down?
JJ Bean is a local coffee roaster with a chain of cafes strategically located throughout the city on all of my bike routes. The one pictured above has just opened in my neighbourhood and, I suspect, will become a regular pit stop following my rides. Great coffee, vegetarian/vegan lunch selections and, where this post was drafted.