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Takes way too long to get warmed up

Old 12-06-20, 01:01 PM
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tigrrrlily
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Takes way too long to get warmed up

I've always had this issue, seemingly regardless my level of fitness at the time: it takes me way longer than average to get to the point where I can actually perform at the level I'm capable of. I've been riding on Zwift lately, and with the timer and the readouts it has become very obvious that I'm somewhat of an outlier in how long it takes for me to get into the swing of things.
When I say long, I'm talking 30-45 minutes until I feel fully warmed up. I could try to hurry this along, but that just results in discomfort and crappy performance regardless. Even on social rides, I have to ask my fiancée to slow down when we get started, then after 45 minutes it's her turn to complain about the fast pace.

I guess I'm looking for some insight from people who feel like they might have a similar issue. Googling around for possible causes or ways of getting around it has proven fruitless. Do you feel like you take an inordinately long time to warm up? What strategies do you have to speed up the process? How do you deal with it in a social exercise / sport setting?
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Old 12-06-20, 02:26 PM
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I have the same issue, particularly if I am hopping on a trainer in the freezing garage first thing in the morning. The best thing I have found is to just accept it and build in more time to warm up. On Zwift that could mean just doing an extra 10-15 free ride before starting the workout. In a real life group ride, that could mean riding to the ride. In a race situation, it could mean a 45-60 on the trainer before taking a practice lap or lining up.

If you don’t have time for that, you could spin a high cadence at the start of the ride. That’s a good way of getting loose and heated without generating too much fatigue.
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Old 12-06-20, 09:48 PM
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My 'real world' ride always begins with about 4 miles that I use to warm up. Takes maybe 15-20 minutes, loosens up the legs, etc, and honestly I don't even think about it as a warmup but that's exactly what it is. Often I'll be spinning along in the first mile or so thinking, "Oh, maybe the legs don't really have it today, they feel tight." but by about 4-5 miles they're loose, warm, and responsive.

I've come to realize I need to devote at least 15 minutes to warming up on Zwift. I tried a Ramp Test with just 5 minutes of Zone 2 pedalling and blew up well below the power levels I'd reached before. Did it again a week later but with 15 minutes of mostly Zone 2 with a sprint and a short climb thrown in, plus the 5 minute 'free ride' and did much, much better. Some people say the early part of the Ramp Test is warmup enough. Maybe for them. Not me.

So now I start EVERY Zwift session with at least a 15 minute warmup, and that's before whatever warmup is in any workout I do.
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Old 12-06-20, 11:08 PM
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Same, especially with age (63 now) and an autoimmune disorder that messes with my metabolism and energy level. (Hashimoto's, low thyroid, tough one to cope with but I'm doing much better than a couple of years ago when I needed surgery to remove half the thyroid.)

Takes me about 30 minutes to warm up, sometimes longer. If I plan on joining a fast group ride, I ride to the meetup at a moderate pace so I'm warmed up. That really helped. I used to wait near by home for them to pass, but I wasn't warmed up and often got dropped immediately.

I'll also warm up on the indoor trainer for 15-30 minutes, especially in winter.

Sometimes for a change of pace I'll warm up by walking briskly for a mile or so. In fact, as a result of doing that regularly before bike rides for months this year (no club rides due to the pandemic), a few weeks ago I began jogging again just to see how it felt after 40 years. Now I'm up to jogging for 2 to 3 miles of my usual 5-6 mile workout walking route. But afterward I'll skip the bike ride. The jog/walk has become it's own thing now.

Another thing that helps me is a few sprints after a 15 minute warmup. Just 10-30 seconds. Maybe do that a couple of times. Seems to kickstart my slow metabolism. But it took me awhile, and some interval training sessions, for sprints to be a warmup rather than wearing me out. Some groups do a herky jerky pace, loafing on the flats, coasting downhills, then trying to drop everyone on the climbs. The only way to get accustomed to that was to do intervals and sprints.

Yeah, long warmups take longer. Takes more time out of the day. But I haven't found an alternative.
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Old 12-07-20, 12:26 PM
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Is this something that changes with riding more or less days in a row?

Like, if you ride the day before, does it shorten warmup needs? Or, if you were able to ride in the morning and then in the afternoon, would the afternoon ride need less warmup?
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Old 12-08-20, 09:32 AM
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It could be how you are warming up perhaps? Are you mixing in some efforts? Kinda like how if you do a structured FTP test, it has you mixing up the intensity and duration to get your heart pumping? I would imagine if you are going at the same low intensity pace all the time, that it will take a long time to warm up.
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Old 12-08-20, 10:03 AM
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I assume these are Zwift workouts.

This may be bollocks, but it's what I've figured along the way for myself.

There seems to me a muscular need to warmup (the flexibility and movement of muscles, joints, ligaments) and the metabolic/physiological warmup.

The muscular to me is the pure motion of just some low power solid cadence spinning. Lubricating the workings. The metabolic/physiological is getting the body primed for the work it's going to do.

For workouts, I try to tailor the metabolic warmup to the intensity of work I'm about to do. If it's going to be long time trial sets, I'll simply get myself to sweetspot for a couple minutes then back off and spin easy again before starting. You don't need immediate activation of that.

Now, for VO2 stuff. Yeah, I'll throw in some 10 to 15 second high power efforts then spin them out.

It's very personal. I've had to sometimes look at Zwift workouts I would want to do, then just create one myself or freeride then start the workout.
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Old 12-08-20, 10:33 AM
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I hated races that started fast. In high school cross-country, I"d be close to last at the first mile. Now (in my late sixties) I cannot warm up if I don't dress warm enough. Sucks for group rides because some of that clothing I will not be able to shed until we stop. But under dressing can mean never getting into the flow.
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Old 12-08-20, 11:32 AM
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There are many times when my legs don't feel good till 45 minutes or more into the ride. However in my data, I was doing better during those times than my perception would have me believe.

I've heard some say if your legs don't feel good then don't ride. And that might be true for instances where you know you have not been getting proper rest. But in general, I know I've gotten proper rest and just ride anyways. I almost always am surprised what my numbers show during the lengthy period that they felt like crap, and even more surprised at my numbers when my legs are finally feeling great.

It almost is to where I hope to have crappy feeling legs for almost the first hour, because when I do, they feel great at hour 3 or better. But remember, I did say "almost". <grin>

Does this relate to being on a trainer? I don't know. I still can't bring myself to get one, though I do sometimes use my wife's stationary bike to keep my cadence up when I can't get out in the real world. We just don't have enough days stuck inside here.
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Old 12-09-20, 02:45 PM
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Looks like it's common. Me, too. I can't really go comfortably for the first hour. OTOH, I can go uncomfortably after about 5 minutes. I just do it anyway if I have to. My guess is that most folks are this way and have just learned to suck it up. On the road, I always hated group ride routes which began with a lung-buster climb right out of the parking lot. I could do it, but didn't like it. But yeah, I think the better condition on is in, the longer the appropriate warm up. If I could only ride when my legs felt good, I wouldn't get anywhere near my optimum weekly volume.
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Old 12-09-20, 09:49 PM
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In my case the slow warmup is mostly due to the stuff I mentioned (yeah, I whine way too often about that stuff) -- age and cumulative injuries and a pesky health problem. Probably not applicable to most younger cyclists.

It's a big change from my youth when I was a fast starter, but had to work on stamina.

If I take a couple of days off -- real rest, not "walking/jogging instead of cycling" -- I'm usually fresher and don't need a long warmup. When I work out consecutive days, taking only one or two days off per week, I need longer warmups and cooldowns.

If I stop too long during a workout ride I'll stiffen up and need another warmup before resuming harder efforts. I try to keep rest breaks to around 5 minutes or less. On longer casual rides it doesn't matter much.

Also depends on my meds, prescription and OTC. I have prescriptions for muscle spasms and migraines but dislike using them. They make me sluggish for two or three days, so I take those only as a last resort. For routine aches and pains I use CBD and, if the pain is a little worse, kratom. Neither cause any problems with my workouts. And I don't experience the side effects I get from daily doses of NSAIDs. In particular, I get skin rashes resembling psoriasis from ibuprofen and aspirin, so I avoid taking those unless I need them for inflammation.

Caffeine seems to wake up and warm up my body quicker, but if I take too much I get palpitations and spiky heart rate, usually 10-20 bpm faster than normal, which skews my HRV data.

I've found HRV data (Elite HRV app with my Wahoo Tickr) useful for gauging my workouts, but only when my heart rate isn't skewed by too much caffeine or meds that affect my HR and BP. I usually find that when my HRV data shows I'm good to go for a hard workout, I usually do have a good workout and warm up quicker. I was wary of a placebo effect, so at first I wouldn't look at the results from HRV checks until *after* a workout. Then I'd compare how I actually felt with what the HRV app advised. It's not a magic fix but another useful bit of data for estimating my workout goals. And I can say that when the HRV results are really bad -- and I repeat the test two or three times to be sure -- and advise taking a rest day, I can already feel that I need a rest day or very light day anyway. On those days I'll take a walk, at most, or some some flexibility work at home.
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Old 12-10-20, 02:13 PM
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" it takes me way longer than average to get to the point where I can actually perform at the level I'm capable of."

in what capacity are you preforming?
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Old 12-10-20, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I have the same issue, particularly if I am hopping on a trainer in the freezing garage first thing in the morning. The best thing I have found is to just accept it and build in more time to warm up. On Zwift that could mean just doing an extra 10-15 free ride before starting the workout. In a real life group ride, that could mean riding to the ride. In a race situation, it could mean a 45-60 on the trainer before taking a practice lap or lining up.

If you don’t have time for that, you could spin a high cadence at the start of the ride. That’s a good way of getting loose and heated without generating too much fatigue.
Word. I like this post a lot.

What I have found is that warmup is programmatic versus time based with pedals turning. If I am on the rollers, I can start at 75 rpm and ramp up cadence for 12 minutes hitting something like 130 rpm. This primes my aerobic system. I rest for 5 minutes. I get back on the rollers and do 3x(50 seconds easy spin with a 10 second acceleration). Rest 5 minutes and then 30 seconds of high cadence and high power. This warms up the glycolytic system. Rest 5 minutes and then a 70% standing start for 5 seconds. This primes the ATP PC system. I am then ready to go and all three energy producing systems are warmed up and primed without generating too much fatigue.

Long warmups feel great but generally fatigue the cyclist. Warmup is not an effort.

Other than on a trainer by oneself, it is hard to do this protocol. But Zwift would seem to be perfect. Note the time is not minimal due to the rest periods but the fatigue is reduced. After the three accelerations and 30 second effort, I am ready to rock. The ATP PC start is icing on the cake more for sprinters.
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Old 12-15-20, 09:53 AM
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It is good to know that I'm not the only person that needs a lot of warm-up before a ride.
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Old 12-15-20, 11:30 AM
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Obviously the weather is a big factor. On a winter road ride, I may not feel properly warmed up (as in, I'm literally cold) for half an hour or more. On the erg (located on the back porch), I warm up more quickly. Last night was an interval workout and after a 10-minute warmup at 50% (spinning faster than usual), I felt warmed up about halfway through the first interval. Although it's normal for my heart-rate to ramp up more quickly on subsequent intervals, regardless of the weather.
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Old 12-18-20, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
There are many times when my legs don't feel good till 45 minutes or more into the ride. However in my data, I was doing better during those times than my perception would have me believe.

I've heard some say if your legs don't feel good then don't ride. And that might be true for instances where you know you have not been getting proper rest. But in general, I know I've gotten proper rest and just ride anyways. I almost always am surprised what my numbers show during the lengthy period that they felt like crap, and even more surprised at my numbers when my legs are finally feeling great.

It almost is to where I hope to have crappy feeling legs for almost the first hour, because when I do, they feel great at hour 3 or better. But remember, I did say "almost". <grin>

Does this relate to being on a trainer? I don't know. I still can't bring myself to get one, though I do sometimes use my wife's stationary bike to keep my cadence up when I can't get out in the real world. We just don't have enough days stuck inside here.
My question is "Why?"

On a longish endurance ride on my rollers, why does my leg effort seem high-ish for the first maybe 45' and then get easier? Once I reach this point, my legs just go around with no sense of strain or even of pedal pressure. This is after a 10' warmup then holding 75% FTP steady for 30' or so. That same output starts to feel quite easy. This lasts for maybe another 1/2 hour and then my legs start to feel a bit of stress again but of course I just keep going and the apparent stress very gradually increases. No HR drift through all this though, so that's not it.


What's happening when the same effort rather suddenly gets easier? Is it endorphins that dull the sensations, or muscle fiber recruitment, or increased blood flow, or? I'm using a hub PM, seems quite reliable.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:29 PM
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On the trainer, it takes me 10 minutes of medium sustained effort to get warmed up. The equivalent of 10 minute uphill climb with <5% gradient.

Out in the road, it takes me at least 20 minutes to get warmed up due to traffic and the lack of 10 minute climbs nearby.

I actually used to warm up on the trainer before heading out. Trainer warmups is a good way to warm up faster if road conditions doesn't give you opportunity for fast warmup.
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Old 12-19-20, 03:31 AM
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It takes me a while to warm up too. 20 minutes on the trainer with the first 10 low intensity and then a minute on, one off times 4 at high cadence (over 100) get's me ready for the first set of intervals but my second set is always better than the first as measured by power vs perceived exertion. I think it takes a while for the blood vessels to dilate more in some people than others but harder efforts would be the stimulus that drives it.
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Old 12-21-20, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
...What's happening when the same effort rather suddenly gets easier? Is it endorphins that dull the sensations, or muscle fiber recruitment, or increased blood flow, or? I'm using a hub PM, seems quite reliable.
This. All of the above.

The past couple of months I've been doing more walking and jogging, and some days find I'm more energized after a 30-60 minute walk/jog and ready for a bike ride. Seems to warm up the body better than a spin on the indoor trainer -- more muscles being used.

Ditto, the brain/body chemicals that dull the usual aches and pains and energize us. Often the best I ever feel is after a good warmup. And the worst is 4-6 hours later after it wears off.
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Old 12-23-20, 08:13 PM
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My problem as well, but on zwift I feel like such an outlier, like I'll be close to dead last on the first Sprint segment I get too. I'm being passed by everyone while I'm riding at 100 watts just warming up.
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Old 12-28-20, 03:04 PM
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For the top level racers at TdF the standard warmup for a time trial is one hundred kilometers. Slower guys do 60 or 80.

Then we get older and it takes even longer to warm up.

One of the best rides out of a whole lifetime was with a friend in his early 60s who came out for a 120 mile jaunt and purely sat on the back for first ninety miles. Then he came alive. He worked the front of the paceline and forced us all to hammer along at 28mph. He said it was the first time in years he had been properly warmed up. Then he bought the beer and was the only one with enough energy left to enjoy it.

All the club rides in the 60s and 70s automatically started with a ten mile warmup. Might take 30 minutes, might take 40. Many thought that was was too short.
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Old 12-29-20, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
For the top level racers at TdF the standard warmup for a time trial is one hundred kilometers. Slower guys do 60 or 80.

Then we get older and it takes even longer to warm up.

One of the best rides out of a whole lifetime was with a friend in his early 60s who came out for a 120 mile jaunt and purely sat on the back for first ninety miles. Then he came alive. He worked the front of the paceline and forced us all to hammer along at 28mph. He said it was the first time in years he had been properly warmed up. Then he bought the beer and was the only one with enough energy left to enjoy it.

All the club rides in the 60s and 70s automatically started with a ten mile warmup. Might take 30 minutes, might take 40. Many thought that was was too short.
I can relate. On the one-day STP double, my favorite part was the last 35 miles. I'd hit that ramp coming off the bridge, get down on the aerobars and just hammer, passing people like crazy, then sprint the climb into town or the finish where ever that was. It's fun to know what you have and where the finish line is, and then just go.
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Old 12-30-20, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
The past couple of months I've been doing more walking and jogging, and some days find I'm more energized after a 30-60 minute walk/jog and ready for a bike ride. Seems to warm up the body better than a spin on the indoor trainer -- more muscles being used.
It's a good strategy.

My quick warm up strategy is doing low to medium power sprinting out of the saddle whenever it's safe in the road or in intervals (longer periods than a maximum power sprint)

Like jogging, sprinting out of the saddle will recruit the upper body muscles so yeah, a lot more muscles than just the legs and the core.
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Old 12-31-20, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
For the top level racers at TdF the standard warmup for a time trial is one hundred kilometers. Slower guys do 60 or 80.
Do you seriously believe this?
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Old 12-31-20, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Do you seriously believe this?
Why would I not believe that? It is and has been reported in news coverage of TdF time trials for decades. It makes physiological sense. It has been reported to me by TdF mechanics. Similar has been reported to me by working pros in somewhat lesser races.
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