Are Your Training Hard Enough?

It’s easy to read about how the pro’s head out for 5, 6 or 7 hour rides each day while they get ready for the season ahead and think you have to do the same. This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes amateurs make when planning their training sessions.

If you’re lucky enough to not have to work and can up your sleep to 10 hours a night then sure heading our and riding lots of low intensity miles can and would bring you some big benefits. However not many of us have the lifestyles that allow us to do this so we need to change our approach to training.

Most of us can typically only get out for 1 or 2 long rides per week with the rest of our training time being short commute rides or a stolen hour in the gym or on the turbo trainer every couple of days. The key to maximizing your potential is to get the maximum you can from these sessions.

Are Your Training Hard Enough

If you’re only doing 1 long ride per week and and say 3 or 4 one hour sessions then you should have ample recovery time to recuperate and recover ready for the next ride meaning you can push hard on those midweek rides.

Here are a few ideas to get you using this time to it’s maximum:

1. Interval Training

Plain and simple. If you want to get stronger and go faster then interval training should be utilized on at least some of these shorter workouts during your training week. There are thousands of variations of intervals out there but for me the classic and one of the most effective for general improvement is the 2 x 20 minute interval. It may not be pleasant but it sure gets results. Be sure to check out our other interval tips too for advice on how to get the best out of your interval sessions.

2. Local Chain Gang

Most cycling clubs tend to run a short mid week chain gang rides. The point of these rides is to give the riders a very fast, race paced tempo training ride. In addition to getting a very good hard workout you’ll also benefit from riding at pace within a group as well as benefiting from the social aspects of riding with others (its less boring than the turbo trainer!).

3. Use your commute better

If you’re lucky enough to commute to work on your bike consider changing your route to help you improve the workout it gives you. Perhaps twice a week you can extend the ride or change the route to incorporate some hills that you can use as natural intervals. If not you could nominate stretches between certain landmarks to be sprint sections.

4. Consider Spin Classes

We get asked quite regularly if spin classes are good for cyclists. While the spin sessions that most gyms offer aren’t particularly aimed at improving cycling performance but general fitness they can still offer big benefits. They offer you a small structured workout session that usually involves some form of interval like routines in a highly motivational atmosphere. You can always ignore the instructors calls to do press ups onto your handlebars and instead just participate on the aspects of these classes that will help improve your cycling.

5. Time Trial

A good motivational tool to get some short hard sessions in is to regularly ride a local loop and keep track of your times over the same course. This could be a local mid week time trial event organized by a local cycling club or it could simply be a short loop local to where you live. By putting yourself against the clock you’re much more likely to want to improve your times and work harder as a result.

Time trials are not easy to ride as they require you to ride the distance on your limits. As well as bringing you physical benefits they are also great for developing your mental strength and teaching you to deal with the need to concentrate hard in order to manage to sustain these tough efforts.

Hopefully you can now start maximizing the time you spend on the bike to get the most out of your training. Just be careful to allow yourself time to recover after performing hard workouts. This recovery time is actually where your muscles repair themselves and get stronger so don’t be afraid to skip a session or back off if you’re feeling fatigued.




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