How to improve cycling with a longer off-season

2020 has become a difficult year for many athletes to plan for. Race schedules  are uncertain and offseason  training suddenly got extended indefinitely. Organized athletes have had to restructure everything. Disorganized athletes are left wondering what to do next. There is always opportunity somewhere in a crisis. A very simple way to look at the current global situation is to consider it an extended offseason. While you may have worked on developing good base fitness, now is not really a good time to turn to intensity, as we don’t really know when we need to peak our performance. A better approach is to continue to build our fitness and capabilities so that we can covert them to race form when needed.

Here are our suggestions for improving your cycling ability with an extended offseason.

Aerobic Endurance:

Simply put this is our base miles. This low intensity, high volume training promotes structural changes in the cardiovascular system which help us deliver oxygen to the muscles. Extra low intensity volume at this time can help develop overall aerobic efficiency and fuel economy. This capacity underpins performance in most longer duration events and many athletes neglect it due to lack of time. Now might be a good opportunity to develop this while intensity is less critical.

Sample session: 

2-4 Hours Zone 2 heart rate 65-70% FTP with 20 sec bursts every 30mins.

Aerobic Capacity:

Building our ceiling of aerobic power is tremendously important for longer sustained events. Our abilty to produce power aerobically allows us to sustain efforts and pace for much longer. This can often be the main determinant for our average power or pace over a given distance. This type of work requires diligence in keeping intensity in a sweetspot which is below threshold but still taxes the aerobic system enough for an adaptation.

Sample session: 

10min Warmup Z2

3X 10-15Min High  Z3 low Z4 HR or 80% FTP with 5mins rest Zone 2.

Strength development:

For many athletes there is very little time to encorporate strength work into their cycling. It can be difficult, as recovery takes longer and can impact the next training session. For this reason many athletes use strength training sparingly. Now is a great time to develop strength where its impact on other sessions is less of an issue. Strength work is usually best done through Strength & Conditioning in a gym based programme but great work can be done on the bike too. Torque development sessions are always quite beneficial to developing on-bike strength.

Sample session:

20mins warmup

5X5 efforts at low Zone 4 or 80% FTP at 50-70 cadence (Higher cadences help where pre existing knee injuries are a concern) 5mins rest at Z2 with regular cadence.

Sprint ability:

High effort intervals are usually the best way to develop high power outputs. These are very often spaced close together and end up being extremely metabolic in nature. At this time of year, this may not be desirable for longer distance athletes. In order to keep these efforts neuromuscular in nature and avoid promoting a false peak, just increase rest intervals. There is no need for many athletes to work on sprint repeatability right now. Just developing raw power generation will be beneficial on its own.

Sample session.

15min warmup at Z2

10X 20sec maximal standing start accelerations with 3mins rest at Z2.

These are the types of sessions which will fit nicely into this current training situation. How you utilize them will depend on the area you are looking to develop. The combination of training sessions will dictate where your overall abilities develop and this is where coaching can be very useful. The main point of the article is that it is rare that we have extra time to train without sacrificing event preparation. Now is an opportunity to bring up lagging capacities.

Those of you who take advantage of the situation as opposed to fighting it will benefit in the long run. If you feel that you have a weak area and would now like to address it, then visit our services page or feel to contact us.

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