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Hot Weather Warm-up

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This article comes to you from our friends at Carmichael Training Systems (trainright.com). CTS leads the endurance coaching industry with proven and innovative products, services, and content. And the results speak for themselves; no other coaching company produces more champions, in such a wide variety of sports and age groups, than CTS. They also have great articles. And while they are written specifically for endurance athletes they are easily adapted for the motocross athlete. This is one such article. - Virtual Trainer

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Author: Chris Carmichael CEO/Head Coach of CTS

In hot weather athletes face a conundrum. A pre-event warm-up is designed to increase muscle core temperature, start the body’s cooling processes, and activate energy systems. But elevating core temperature too high diminishes performance dramatically. So how do you warm up when it’s hot out?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to walking the fine line between activating your body for a great performance and hurting your performance through overheating.

The biggest change to your warm-up routine in the heat is to dramatically reduce its duration.

Precool/Preload

This is going to seem counterintuitive, but cooling down before you warm up can be beneficial before a hot-weather event. But even before that, I recommend consuming a hyper hydrator. I use Preload from Osmo Nutrition the evening before or the morning of a hot-weather ride. The high sodium content (sodium citrate and bicarbonate) expands plasma volume, which primes your body’s cooling system by providing more fluid for sweat. Then, before getting on the bike for your warmup try to keep yourself cool with air conditioning in the car or a building, and staying in the shade. [For the motocross athlete I do not think a preloading supplement is absolutely necessary. Remember this article was written from a cycling POV where the race is 4-5 hours long and the rider must hydrate and consume food while on the bike. - VT]

Jason Anderson and Christophe Pourcel use small cooling fans mounted to their handlebars to get some pre-race relief. 

What about cold beverages? There’s some debate in the sports science community about when cold beverages and ice slurry drinks should be consumed. When you’re working hard these beverages may actually confuse the body into thinking you don’t need to sweat as much, but they seem to be effective for helping athletes control core temperature before a warmup and between your warmup and your event. [Ever visit the Millsaps Training Facility race area before a big race? They always have a slush machine going for their riders. - VT]

Warm-up

The biggest change to your warm-up routine in the heat is to dramatically reduce its duration. It’s pretty common for a warmup routine to be 45-60 minutes (See MX Specific guidelines), but in a hot environment that should be cut down to about 20 minutes. You still need to spend some time at lactate threshold and throw in a few high-intensity efforts to activate the processes related to producing and processing lactate, but you want to do as little as possible to achieve those goals. Reducing your warm-up to 5 minutes of spinning, 5-10 minutes at LT, and two 1-2 minute VO2 max efforts will typically get the job done. In contrast, a long warm-up is likely to generate more heat than you’ll be able to compensate for, even with an ice vest, ice socks, and cold beverages.

The nature of your event also plays a role in your hot weather warm-up. If your event is going to start out relatively slow, like a road race, then you can minimize the warm-up activities and focus more on staying cool. If the event is going to start hard, like a criterium or cross-country mountain bike race [or Motocross!], then it’s still important to activate your energy systems and lactate processing systems.

Cool down briefly post-warmup

One of the departures from the old-school warmup strategies is to actively cool down again after you get off the trainer or after warming up on the road or trail. Typically, and especially in cold weather warm-ups, you would want to stop your warm-up routine and go directly to the start line. In this hot weather strategy you stop earlier so you can cool down with an ice vest, dousing your clothing with water, and/or drinking a cold drink or ice slurry drink. But here is where you’re going to be walking a fine line. After riding your warm-up routine your muscle temperature and core temperature are elevated, and if you wait too long between your warm-up routine and your start your body can become a heat sink. You can actually heat up even more, which would be bad. To avoid this you need to go from your active warm-up directly to active cooling for about 10 minutes before going to the start line.

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Go to the startline


Nick Wey has lead the charge in using Cool Vests in pro motocross. VT highly recommends the Cool Vest from Glacier Tek.

If you’re going to be standing on the start line for a long time before you start, as if often the case with mountain bike races and criteriums [Almost all motocross races require a long wait in staging - VT], you’re going to be standing still with minimal airflow in the sun. In this scenario, try to go to the line wearing an ice vest or with ice socks in your jersey pockets and/or tucked into the neck of your jersey between your shoulder blades. These things often require some support, someone to hand off your cooling devices to. If you don’t have that kind of support, soaking your jersey is an effective self-supported method [I do NOT recommend wetting your jersey in motocross. I highly recommend a Cool Vest from Glacier Tech - VT].

One of our top mountain bike coaches, Adam Pulford, is also the Team Director for Team Sho-Air and he has been employing these strategies with team before hot-weather races around the country. The focus on staying cool and minimizing heat buildup during riders’ warm-up routines has paid off. The riders are ready for action right from the starting gun, and keeping their core temperatures under control enables them to start faster, get to the front of the race, and stay there.

You can’t control the weather, but when you proactively take steps to balance your need to activate your energy systems, start the process of producing and dealing with lactate, and keep your core temperature from rising out of control, you can have a lot of control over your hot weather performance.

Have a Great Weekend and Stay Cool!

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach of CTS

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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