Warmup, Cool Down, & Recovery

by Eric Schwartz

Each of your workouts should include a warmup and cool down. This is especially important for your more strenuous workouts.


For an easier workout your warmup will consist of an easier effort for a few minutes to get your heart rate up and prepare your body for the work.

For more intense run workouts I recommend the following:

  • 5-15 minute easy run followed. This can be followed by 4-8 100 meter build-ups. A build-up is a fast but controlled effort. You may want to stretch for a few minutes after the build-ups.

For a more intense bike workout your warmup may include:

  • An easy 5-30+ minutes of riding with the option of adding a couple of fast 30-60 efforts to get your heart rate up.

Cool Down

Five minutes of easy training is a sufficient cool down. Your cool down can also be in the form of a walk. This is also a good time to stretch and begin your post-workout recovery.


Recovery becomes more important after a hard workout or during weeks of heavy training loads. If you feel drained after your workout it’s important to ingest calories and fluids within 30 minutes of finishing. Ingest 200-400 calories during this window. Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of the calories. Some research shows that adding some protein to the carbohydrates may aid the recovery process. Ingest at least as much fluid as you lost during the workout. Weigh yourself after your workouts to learn how much fluid you typically lose.

What constitutes a strenuous workout? For a newer athlete, a 30 minute run may be a strenuous workout. For more experienced athletes, an 80 minute aerobic run may not be very taxing. Learn to read your body’s signals so that you know when post-workout nutrition is very important. It’s not an area that should be overlooked.

In the perfect world we might all be full time athletes and we could plan our life around our training. If that were the case, the ideal recovery after a workout might be a nap or a restful evening with a healthful dinner followed by a solid night’s sleep. That’s not an option for most of us, but the closer you can match that behavior the better your recovery and overall performance will be.

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