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.
I only warm up and cool down for interval days… On Tuesday night club rides I warm up but don’t cool down. Don’t know how I feel about it either way though… I just do it because “they” say to.
I find I don’t need it as much in the warm weather on the road rides. Could be you warm up more quickly in the heat. It could be age too. When to get to my age it takes longer to start the engine.
That makes sense.
Nope, used to as well as stretching, stopped a few years back & didn’t notice any difference.
That’s why I say it’s controversial. It’s personal, a function of age, condition and your gene pool.
I only bother with cooling down after long rides and commuting days. My cooling down routine is walking my dogs and then stretching. If I fail to stretch out I feel it later on. Also if I go more than a week without stretching properly, I lose some flexibility.
Personally, even if I didn’t see a difference, I would still cool down (I have to walk my dogs anyway) and I really like taking the time to relax after a ride before moving on to other activities.
In those temperatures, I wouldn’t think you would need to cool-down.
I am with you. I need to stretch. In fact, if I only had time for 1 activity, it would be stretching. I have done a lot of yoga and Pilates. Afterward, I feel relaxed, revived and confident.
I do the spinning workouts at a racquet club I belong to. I usually walk there and back. It takes ~ 30 minutes each way and this time prepares me mentally for the workout and helps me to unwind afterward.
Thanks for the comment.