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In this part, we are going to explore different types of training routines and phases, how to plan each and the principles of progression and development required to achieve planned goals. We also will look at the reasons and benefits of training indoors and how these can be incorporated into your weekly routine during the winter months.
The weather challenges and dark mornings/evenings make it difficult to be consistent with outdoor training routines. This is when indoor training tools such as turbo trainers and rollers become crucial to structured training. The main reason we love indoor training routines is the ability to make them specific and targeted with no need to deal with any external factors from riding outside. So, embrace the indoors! Keeping the sessions specific and qualitative will render great personal physical development.
Being able to focus on specific cadence and intensities will test your body allowing fitness levels in specific areas to be worked on when it matters. Indoor riding simplifies this with 45min to 75min sessions the norm in terms of duration, perfect for midweek routines. Technique can be honed and intensity specific ensuring the shorter indoor sessions are 100% quality, giving confidence that each session counts.
Along with the ability to hit training targets, riding indoors can be accessible to most people. Having your bike and trainer readily available in your house/garage/basement means a quick change into cycling gear and a walk into the room next door has you on the bike quickly with little hassle. With the readiness of your training tools at hand, this will leave you less likely to miss a session compared to having the scenario of an outdoor training session in adverse weather conditions at an unsociable hour.
Not that any time on the bike is a ‘waste’, but maximising time available to train means each pedal stroke needs to count. Riding a turbo or rollers means you have no coasting in a group, downhills to freewheel and no traffic lights to stop at. All of this means your time on the turbo is productive…no place to hide.
The ideal scenario with regards training would be to mix up at least 2 indoor rides a week with a maximum of 4 (it is good to get outside every now and again!). Just be cautious not to overdo the intensity in the weekly turbo sessions, it is easy to flog yourself each time on the turbo which cannot be very practical either, this is especially true in the early phases of winter training.
The big picture of the winter training phase is about progression of your training loads and how these will benefit your fitness and performances come next Spring/Summer. Planning is crucial. We all need a plan. Through everything in life. Getting to the levels you aspire to on a bike is no different.
Building through specific phases of training so development takes place. Each training phase needs to be aligned and targeted to meet the needs of your overall desired objectives. Be honest with yourself as you assess what worked in the previous year, what you need to focus on for the coming year. Don’t rush each phase and make sure you are happy with your training and ability before moving onto the next training phase.
Here are the three areas which play a part in every person’s development. Each area needs to be managed individually but also balanced together so to maximise each training block.
Start by building up how regularly you can exercise which will result in giving your training much needed consistency. Don’t necessarily focus on the overall time spent at each session but instead concentrate on the number of times you can train in any given week.
Building up the individual rides in terms of time spent on each, will start to increase once a good level of frequency is sustained. Make sure you can handle a reasonable volume without compromising the frequency of your training, which may occur if your volume is too high and leads to excessive fatigue that causes you to miss training days. Volume increases need to be incremental so to avoid any excessive fatigue.
With both frequency and volume of training at an optimal level you can begin to look at the gradual increase of intensity. Depending on each rider’s ability and current fitness level, the increase of intensity will vary greatly from person to person. Some people may need to lower the overall training volume once the initial ‘intensity’ phases begin so to allow for adaptions to take place. Others may find it easier to handle the increase of Intensity along with the constant volume. Just be careful to avoid over doing this phase in the early parts of your training phases as this can lead to fatigue and inconsistency in your routine further in the year.
With the above in mind, being able to hone your strengths and improve your weaknesses during the gradual build of training during the winter is a priority. Trying to make each area as symmetrical to the other so not to lose a training block and the purpose of each. This will make your winter training a positive one.