How To Improve Your Training Plan
Shifting from one season to the next is a great time to reassess, analyse the good and bad last year and set the goals for the upcoming season. The winter/ pre-season is also a great time to put some of the new ideas and practices you’ve come up with from your analysis into practice to see what works and what doesn’t without the repercussion of a bad race performance. Here are 4 changes you can make in your off-season to prepare for a better upcoming year.
MORE LOW INTENSITY TIME ON THE BIKE
“Junk miles” is a term that has gained popularity in the same vein as “no pain, no gain” and is likely driven by those who are in the ‘high intensity only’ camp. In my opinion, athletes should disregard this term and understand the importance of long duration, low intensity training. Why low intensity? Because it allows you to perform a workout for a long time, and this type of training is much more dependent on time spent rather than intensity.
This type of training strengthens the heart, improves movement pattern and builds the amount of mitochondria in the cells.
This improves your aerobic efficiency and lactate clearance abilities, laying a perfect foundation to build on throughout the year. You might be able to get fast without it, but it will be impossible to sustain a consistently high level throughout the season.
MAINTAIN HIGH INTENSITY THROUGHOUT WINTER
Whilst you should be spending a lot of time in the winter on low intensity base building, the empirical scientific research shows that the best athletes in their respective endurance sports maintain a similar amount of intensity throughout the winter and into the season, typically at about a 1 in every 5 or 6 workout ratio. The high intensity workout frequency remains similar, but the intensity and duration of the intervals get higher and shorter respectively as the season goes on, s try adding one high intensity workout to your plan, starting with intervals of perhaps 8-9 minutes.
DO SOME CROSS TRAINING (X-TRAINING)
The pre-season is a great time of the year to perform non-specific sports in order to build your fitness back up after a rest period. This does a few things that benefit the athlete. First, it adds essential variety to the training. With training getting more and more specific as you approach your goal events, this is arguably the only time in the season where you can have a lot of variety and it still be beneficial to your development.
Another reason is that other sports help to strengthen the muscles not worked by cycling alone, and so many weaknesses that can cause injuries down the line can be worked on in a fun way.
Most cyclists love the outdoors, so it’s a good chance to enjoy autumn and winter by hiking, running and doing other sports that get the heart rate up and don’t sap motivation needed later in the year.
BUILD UP YOUR CORE STRENGTH
Lastly, and closely related to the above is specifically working on your core strength, or anything connected to the pelvis in other words. Starting off your training on a poor core strength foundation can mean that gains in fitness are not a large as they could be, poor form is developed and maintained as you get more serious with your training and niggling injuries can arise because of bad biomechanics.
Try working on areas such as the gluteus muscles, abdominals and obliques by adding simple bodyweight sessions like planks, lunges, squats and prones.
Again, this adds variety and helps make your training purposeful and fun at the same time.