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The Cyclist House How to get the best from the cold season? Winter training for cyclists

How to get the best from the cold season?

Posted on November 1, 2021 

Winter training can test the determination, commitment and motivation of any cyclist. Reduction of the duration of the day, bad weather and conditions that alter the elements of your bike can make it difficult to set up a training pace.

For a long time, train during the cold and dark months of winter was considered a necessary evil, but it is no longer the case. If it is not possible to curk and hibernate all the winter to go back on its bike in the midst of shape, it is possible to find a way to ride by elaborating a well thought out, targeted and effective.

Whether you have a goal to reach or you just want to move up the upper speed for the coming season, here are eight tips to help you pedal to success.

1. Evaluate yourself

The first step to embark on a cycling program is to understand where we leave.

By performing some simple tests, you can get a clear picture of the current state of your fitness. You can test your fitness with a heart rate monitor; For those who want to train more intensely, a wattmeter is a good option.

Other test options include:

  • A functional threshold power test orFUNCTIONAL THRESHOLD POWER TEST In English, also known as the FTP abstract, represents the maximum power you can maintain for 60 minutes.
  • A critical power test or Critical Power Test, during which you make a number of maximum efforts to obtain a more complete picture of your fitness.
  • Analysis of blood lactate and / or test VO2 max in the laboratory, if you wish to adopt a more scientific approach.

By testing your current fitness, you will be able to customize your training, and targeting specific improvement areas with much more precision, as well as to establish reference points to measure your progress thereafter.

2. Define a training plan that targets your goals

The Cyclist House How to get the best from the cold season? Winter training for cyclists

A training without purpose may exhaust you. Fortunately, the cure is simple: give yourself a goal to reach.

Before turning on Zwift or start putting layers to go out, take the time to decide what you want to remove from your winter cycling. It can be a specific goal, such as the increase in your FTP or power in five seconds, or a larger objective, such as the rise of a peak for a specific event in several months.

Use the popular approach S.M.A.R.T. For your goals to be specific, measurable, feasible, relevant and limited in time. This approach is very useful for setting achievable goals.

In parallel with these long-term goals, set suitable short-term goals for measuring your progress along the way. For example, a goal of improving the mid-term power threshold of your workout, if you are preparing a hilly test.

These goals will allow you to make sure you are always in the right direction.

3. Understand the lens of training

As we have just mentioned, improvements in your fitness will depend on your goals, as well as the requirements of the event or race to which you are preparing. For example, for a race or mountain sport, the focus will be on the weight / power ratio, while criterium races or cyclocross will focus more on short, repetitive and powerful efforts.

However, most cyclists will want to focus primarily on improving their aerobic capacity.

As an endurance agent, you want your aerobic energy system to be as developed as possible. This will allow you to roll stronger for longer without the anaerobic energy system (used for shorter and more explosive forces) do not get tired. This will also enable you to improve other key performance indicators, such as your anaerobic threshold (that is, the point to which lactate begins to accumulate in muscles and blood).

In addition, you will have a stronger base where you can support to improve your anaerobic power generation. This will be necessary for shorter and more intense efforts, such as sprint and attacks.

You can develop your endurance by performing low intensity drive outputs (using heart rate or power) or "muscular endurance" blocks of 15 to 20 minutes each at lower rates of about 60 to 80 rpm.

Interval training on the VO2 max (for example, the popular 30 seconds ON / 15 seconds off) can also be effective, while the "Sweetspot" workout is also popular for runners with short time for practice. The Sweetspot intervals take place at about 88-93% of your FTP, about 75-85% of your maximum heart rate.

4. Plan your training

The Cyclist House How to get the best from the cold season? Winter training for cyclists

Once you have defined your long-term and short-term goals and that you have understood exactly what you are looking for, the next step is to work down and program the workouts that will allow you to reach the desired result. Start by the date you want your plan to end, determine the time you have, then start filling the boxes. A typical block for an experienced runner could be three weeks of work, followed by a week of recovery. For less experienced runners, this can be brought back to two weeks of training, followed by a week of rest.

What you are looking for here is a wide variety of workouts that fill the goal described above. This will make your workout interesting and motivating, and will allow better adaptation, because the body reacts better when it is solicited in different ways. A typical plan will first focus on endurance, to develop your basic fitness, and add intensity to the approach of your event.

For structured workouts where you are targeting specific training areas, room cycling applications such as Zwift, Yard and Wahoo system are ideal for performing high quality sessions very efficiently. Many of these applications also offer custom workout plans. Using the ERG mode on a Smart Trainer, where the power is set to a prescribed level for your session (or the intervals that compose it), can also help you achieve the necessary objectives to achieve the desired improvements.

At the same time, variety and stimulation are important. A good advice is to have a dedicated winter bike that you are happy to use outside in bad conditions. Having good equipment - including a good value for money, equipped with mudguards and winter tires resistant to punctures - can greatly help maintain your motivation throughout the winter. After all, you will be much more inclined to go out on the road or on a path if you do not have too much to use expensive pieces or have to meticulously clean your bike after each output.

5. Do not forget to rest

It is important to adapt your workout as you go, depending on your reaction to the workout and the time and energy you have. The purpose of the training is to "stress" your body for it to adapt, and it is during the recovery periods that your body repairs and improves, leaving you stronger for the next block of Training - A persistent stress without recovery time leaves no time for this adaptation.

Very busy riders often underestimate the impact of external stress on training (such as professional and family pressures) and the extent to which stress can negatively affect sports performance, then always stay on the conservative side and do not be Too attached to what you had expected at the start.

Overreach can lead to a weakening of the immune system and, since you are more sensitive to upper respiratory tract infections during the winter months and that the CVIV-19 pandemic is still in progress, recovery is essential to stay in good health. Even worse, if you get sick, much of the workout you have done will fade, and you will be back on the start box.

6. Have fun

The Cyclist House How to get the best from the cold season? Winter training for cyclists

The best way to put a stick in the rays of progress is to transform your training plan into a chore, so try to make the process as enjoyable as possible. The latest generation of training applications is a good start; racing Zwift actual hikes on Rouvy through group workouts on Yard, technology is your friend. Add a little music, a podcast to stitch your interest, or streaming your favorite series, but do what it takes for your session to be not boring.

7. Do you intelligently

The vast majority of us make our lives by doing something other than cycling, and training needs to be integrated with family, professional and other tasks of everyday life. So, with the little time you have to pedal, it is essential to make the most of it, rather than turning without purpose to a power that is somewhere between recovery and training. Go to bike bakery can do wonders for your mental health and to keep the pleasure of driving.

The training inside you avoid not only having to put on the many layers of clothes to brave the cold, but the use of a Turbo Trainer or a smart bike, like the Wattbike Atom, will allow you to solicit your body in a targeted way to improve your shape faster.

If you plan to go bike inside, have good ventilation; You will work hard and more there is air circulation, the better. Neither does not neglect the maintenance of your bike: a dirty transmission is less efficient and increases wear, even indoors.

8. Find a routine and eliminate excuses to miss training sessions

When planning your training blocks, consider how the workouts will integrate into your daily routine. A routine where training is a structural part of your week will help you ensure that other responsibilities do not take over these already limited hours, but be realistic; There are only a number of hours in a day. That said, at one time or another, life will go across your workout, and flexibility and adaptability are key elements to ensure that a session can be moved, rather than being entirely jumped.

After a long period of intensive training, motivation and enthusiasm can start driving yourself. When this happens, the slightest disadvantage may seem like a valid excuse to skip your next session. There is no harm in impelling a training session from time to time, it happens that you do not feel mentally or physically ready, and forcing the line could exacerbate the problem - but do not Do not let it become a habit.

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