Stretching and Mobility for Cycling: Proper Dynamic Warm-up and Static Cool-down

by Kyle McFarland

The subject of stretching and mobility has been a topic of great controversy in endurance sports. It’s no secret that in the sport of running for example, static stretching prior to activity has been linked to decrease in performance, in part because tight muscles and tendons act as more effective and stiffer springs, which is incredibly useful in some endurance and power sports such as running and cycling. It is with this theory that I prefer to prescribe a more dynamic based warm up, and a static stretch cool down.

What is a dynamic warm up?

Dynamic stretching is a stretch performed by moving through a challenging but comfortable range of motion repeatedly. The benefits of a dynamic warm up include:

  • Increasing body temp prior to exercise

  • Injury prevention primarily due to an increased and fluid range of motion

  • Prevent muscle imbalances

  • Neural activation

I’ve listed my favorite warm-up below to help get you ready for your time in the saddle.

What about the Cool-down?

The sport of cycling offers a unique challenge due to the fact that the entirety of the sport is performed in a hunched over, seated position with very little variation aside from short bursts out of the saddle. This often results in a tight spinal column along all three compartments of the spine (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar). This position also typically leads to tight hip flexors due to the fact that in this seated position our muscles are almost always in a shortened position. Then there are the obvious, heavy hitting muscle groups that we tend to associate with cycling that take quite a bit of abuse on the bike: these would be the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes just to name a few. By performing a static based cool-down immediately following a ride we can stave off the tightening of these muscles and increase range of motion. Below are a few of my favorite static stretches after a long ride.  

*Obviously, both the warm-up and cool-down outlined below are generic and not catered to your specific needs. Keep in mind that not all of these movements movements will be ideal for your specific scenario, and don’t push through pain. All stretches should be light stretching, never pain/discomfort. Dynamic exercises should be in a pain-free range of motion.

If you’d like a customized program specific to your needs, check out our Endurance Package and let our coaches help you not only build a custom warm-up/cool-down protocol, but help increase performance, strength, and mobility on and off the bike.

White Pine Athletics Favorite Dynamic Warm-Ups

Perform 2 rounds of the following exercises 15-20min prior to riding

Cat/Cow (12-15 reps)

  • Begin on hands and knees with your shoulders in-line above your wrists and hands, and knees under your hips.

  • Cat: Round your back toward the ceiling by increasing the arch in your thoracic spine, and rotate your hips in toward your body (anterior rotation) while looking straight down at the ground

  • Return to a neutral position

  • Cow: Draw your stomach towards the ground by increasing the arch in your lumbar spine, and bring your head slightly upward and look forward

  • Alternate between these positions, and alternate breathing between poses. Breath in on the cow, out on the cat.





Supine Knee Twist (18-20 reps)

  • Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and feet drawn in towards your butt.

  • Keeping your low back at stabile and stationary as possible allow your knees (as a pair) to lower to your left side.

  • Return to neutral position

  • Keeping your low back at stable and stationary as possible allow your knees (as a pair) to lower to your right side.

  • You should feel a gentle stretching along the spinal column.


Medial/lateral leg swing (12-15 reps)

  • Start facing a fence or wall, allowing you to lean against it for support.

  • Raise leg off the ground and generate a strong side-to-side swing

  • Lateral (away from the body, off to the side) swing should elicit a stretch in the hip flexors and along the interior of your leg.

  • Medial swing (in towards the center of your body) should elicit a stretch in the glutes and along the lateral aspect of the leg.


Anterior/posterior leg swing (12-15 reps)

  • Start standing along a fence or wall so that you are gazing parallel with the fence, allowing you to lean against it for support.

  • Raise leg off the ground and generate a strong front-and-back swing

  • Anterior swing (in front) should elicit a stretch the primarily in the hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Posterior swing (behind you) should elicit a stretch primarily in the hip flexors.


Forward and lateral lunge (10-12 reps)

  • Step forward into a lunge (forward lunge), making sure your front knee doesn’t track past your toes

  • Return to neutral position

  • Repeat on opposite leg

  • Step laterally into a lunge, ensuring your center of gravity is stacked on top of the loaded leg

  • Return to neutral position

  • Repeat on opposite leg


Banded diagonal press/pull (12-15 reps)

  • With band looped through palm and thumb start with one hand in the air with palm facing forward (shoulder should almost touch ear) and one hand down at your side with palm facing behind you (thumb should almost touch thigh)

  • Alternate arms, allowing for a mild press/pull against the band at the end of each movement.


Banded (above the knee) monster walk (2min)

  • Place band just above knee- those kit tan lines are a perfect place holder

  • Descend between a half and quarter squat

  • Take wide lateral steps keeping constant tension on the band and never standing out of the squat position.

  • After a short rest (30-60”) repeat in the other direction


White Pine Athletics Favorite Static Cool-down

Perform the following exercises within 10-15min following your ride:

Thoracic Extension (accumulate 2-3min but rest as needed)

  • Lay flat on back

  • Slide foam roller under your back level to the sternum

  • Extend arms above your head and hold for a few seconds

  • Slide foam roller up your spine one vertebrae at a time and repeat

  • Take rests as needed


Couch Stretch (accumulate 2-3min but rest as needed)

  • Place the top of your foot on a couch cushion or stable surface

  • Step forward with the opposite foot (shin should be vertical, and knee shouldn’t track past toes)

  • This should elicit a stretch along the quadriceps of the rear leg, potentially within the hip flexor as well

  • Return to neutral position, switch sides and repeat.

  • Rest as needed


Hip flexor/psoas stretch (accumulate 2-3min but rest as needed)

  • Step forward into a lunge (forward lunge), making sure your front knee doesn’t track past your toes

  • Allow rear knee to rest on ground

  • Extend arms so that both shoulders are behind or in contact with ears

  • Gently lean back from the hip (bringing shoulders closer to the ground behind you)

  • Should elicit stretch in hip flexors, and your psoas (from your abdominal cavity, to your hips)

  • Return to neutral position

  • Repeat on opposite leg


Banded hamstring stretch-bent and straight knee (accumulate 2-3min but rest as needed)

  • Lay flat on your back

  • Loop band or belt around foot

  • Pull band to bring banded foot into the air (opposite leg should remain on ground, no bend in knee)

  • Alternate between a slight bend in the banded leg, and a straight knee

  • Return to neutral position

  • Repeat on opposite leg

  • Rest as needed


Pigeon stretch (accumulate 2-3min but rest as needed)

  • From all fours, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist.

  • Experiment with what feels right for you, giving you a stretch along your hips and glutes

  • Place right ankle somewhere in front of your left hip. 

  • Slide your left leg back and point your toes, your heel is pointing up to the ceiling.

  • Do your best to keep your hips level with the ground

  • As you inhale, come onto your fingertips, lengthen your spine, draw your belly in and open your chest.

  • As you exhale, walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor. You can rest your forearms and forehead on the ground if needed

  • On each exhalation, try to release the tension in your right hip.

  • Repeat on the other side.