With any type of exercise, it is important to warm up the muscles you are going to use. By doing so, the risk of an injury is greatly reduced. Warming up before a bike ride usually involves two steps, some cardio training and then dynamic stretching.
Cardio exercising not only warms up the muscles you are going to use when biking, but it also gets your heart rate up and your breathing faster. All it takes is a 30-minute spin on your bike or so, depending on the type of ride you plan on doing. As an alternative to biking, you could jog instead.
For example if you plan on riding a road race of 60 miles or less, start out at a 10 to 15-minute easy pace, then switch it up to five 1 to 2-minute bursts at an 85% pace. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes between each burst. Finish warming up with an easy five-minute ride.
This type of stretching involves movement, verses static stretching which does not, and helps warms up muscles, ligaments and joints. Perform stretching exercises that target the lower major muscle groups that are used during biking, like the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, calves and back muscles. For example lunges, butterflies and single leg pulls loosens up the hip flexors.
Lunges – Start by taking a step forward so that your front knee is bent over your front foot, and your back leg is fully extended behind you. The top of your back foot should be flat on the floor. Keeping your back straight, gently press your hips forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your groin/hip area. Hold, but continue to move your hips forward as you feel they progressively relax. Move your hips back and push yourself back to the upright starting position. Repeat using the other leg.
Butterflies – Sit on the floor with your back straight, the soles of your feet pressed together and your knees dropped to either side. Holding onto your feet, brace your abs and keep your back straight as you drop your torso forward and feel the stretch throughout your inner thighs and outer hips. Move back to the starting position.
Single Leg Pulls – Lie on your back with your legs straight. Raise both legs until they are perpendicular to your body. Hold your left leg in the upright position while slowly lowering your right leg until it is stretched out straight and touching the floor. Hold in this position for a couple of seconds. Now bring your right leg up again and repeat using the opposite leg.
After exercising, perform stretches that target muscles in the above muscle groups by holding the stretch in the extended position for a few seconds. Perform as many repetitions as necessary until the muscle feels relaxed.