Cycling Fitness Coaching For Interval Training In Endurance Training Programmes
Strength and Endurance Training Programmes can give you high threshold power, good recovery ability, aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, core strength and upper body muscular endurance. All these are quality attributes for elite cycling fitness. Your training programmes need to be varied and balanced, with outside road training, yoga, indoor exercise bike training and plenty of rest.
Here let’s focus on gaining elite cycling fitness from interval training, both on the road and indoors on your exercise bike. In three sessions of 30 minutes, Interval Training can give you as much benefit and improvement as five sessions of 60 minutes of steady tempo or aerobic training. Why is this? Working your muscles during High Intensity Interval Training combines two of the most effective fat-burning methods. First, through working your muscles to a level of fatigue that prompts the highest amounts of oxygen use during a quick burst. Second, at this level of ‘VO2 MAX’, triggering an afterburn effect which can last for up to 48 hours after your workout.
So interval training accelerates your elite fitness goals through boosting your metabolism and building lean muscle tissue, faster than steady state training. Why is this? Normal tempo cardio training just maximizes your aerobic fitness, but very gradually between essential conscious occasional days of rest (we recommend every third day should be a rest day). But High Intensity Interval Training taxes and maximizes BOTH aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Aerobic respiration requires Oxygen to generate energy, while anaerobic training does not. And High Intensity Interval Training affects mucle tissue at a cellular level, actually changing what’s known as the ‘mitochondrial’ activity in the muscles themselves. This is why Intervals can get your muscles in better shape but in less time.
Find a quiet circuit near your home with minimal junctions or exit driveways – because you will be accelerating from 15 to 45 mph (25 to 65 kph), over 300 metre spurts. If there are plenty of hills nearby, you can do sessions of around 50 minutes, with 3 minute efforts on the rises, followed by around 8 minute rest periods. But you can be more intense on the flat. For around 40 minutes on a flate circuit, keep sprinting for trees or road signs that are about 300 metres ahead. Jump out of corners for these landmarks in gear of 53x16 and put maximum pedal power to accelerate until you can gear up to 53x14 and keep the power on. For a racing cyclist this will simulate how you will have to be able to accelerate to close gaps or gain the right position near the end of a bunch sprint.
Soft pedal with no effort between the sprints, for around 400 metres. Then accelerate again and repeat this for 12 to 16 times during your session. At the end, do two close 300 metre power sprints ahead of a ‘Big Finish’, where you will be on maximum power. Then your interval session is complete and you can rest and warm down, by soft pedaling over the next few kilometers home.
Home Interval Training
Use your home exercise bike or turbo trainer for lots of easy suppleness spinning to relax, together with aerobic tempo and interval training. For home interval training, get used to counting your pedal revs and using a build up routine, where you count for 20 revs hard, 20 revs soft, then 30 revs hard, 30 revs soft and so on, building up to 200 revs hard and 200 revs soft. This is maximum intensity and then come down to 160 revs hard, 160 revs soft, then lesser sprints in jumps of 20 revs, until you get to just 20 revs hard and 20 soft. Give yourself our final spurt of 100 revs on full power as ‘The Big Finish’ (visualizing,say. Your sprint victory like Mark Cavendish or Sir Chris Hoy would do it!). Then take 500 revs of warm down and relax.
So on the road or on your home exercise bike, High Intensity Interval Training will improve your Elite Cycling Fitness in double quick time.
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The usual approach to train for endurance riding is lots of long rides. On paper this makes sense but in practice it isn’t the most effective way to train. A targeted approaching building all facets of cycling fitness will improve your endurance cycling fitness faster than a diet of long steady rides. Learn how to put the pieces together and see your performance increase. There are many fitness factors that let you do well at endurance events. You need high threshold power, good recovery ability, aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, core strength and upper body muscular endurance. If any of these areas are weak you will find your performance drops quickly in the later miles of a long event.
Long rides do need to be part of your training program but not the foundation. I advocate a periodized approach that builds functional threshold power and speed with a progression to longer rides as the season progresses. Speed is the hardest thing to build so we spend a far amount of time over the winter increasing sustainable speed and force development which allows you to do your longer rides with a higher average power.
The training year will brake down into a number of phases with different goals. Here is how the average year should break down.
Training to Train Phase
(4-8 weeks depending on how long your end of season lay-off was)
At the end of each season should be some sort of lay-off or reduced training load to let the body recover from the season. The Training to Train phase gets your body back into the swing of things after a layoff. Over the course of this phase you will gradually increase the workload to get the body ready for harder work to come. Workouts will include Aerobic and Tempo rides, Yoga, light cross training and core/balance training.
Speed and Muscular Endurance Building Phase
The goal of Speed Building is to increase you Functional Threshold power and build full body muscular endurance. Intensity is high with an overall training volume of 6-10 hours per week depending on training experience and schedule. For most of my athletes they will be on the bike at least 5 days per week with a mix of 2-3 hard workouts and 2-3 Aerobic or Tempo rides of 60-90 minutes between the harder workouts. The hard workouts are a mix of threshold repeats, Velmax Intervals, Tabata Intervals, 4 x4 intervals and time trials. Keep mixing the workouts up but make sure that you do a little more each week. If you did 20 velmax intervals this week, do 22 next week. I plan increases for 3 weeks with the fourth week eased off for recovery. During the recovery week I take out the intensity work and have athletes do 4-5 Aerobic rides. This is enough to allow the body to recover without losing cardiovascular fitness. In fact after a recovery week you see a noticeable increase in performance as the fatigue built over the three week build goes away.
In addition to the rides, there is cross training and Yoga done during this phase. Crossfit full body circuit workouts done 3 times per week pay huge dividends with very little time spent training. Crossfit’s recipe of functional movements done with constant variety at high intensity is the most effective cross training I’ve found for endurance athletes. Over the course of 4 weeks we will do 10 cross training workouts ( 3 per week during the build weeks and 1 during the recovery week). All 10 workouts will be different. This keeps hitting the body in different ways, not allowing it to adapt to the training, therefore you will keep making progress. An example of a Crossfit workout is: 5 chinups, 10 pushup, 15 bodyweight squats - Do as many repeats of this circuit as possible in 20 minutes with as little rest between exercises as you can manage. Another approach is to take 3 compound exercises (ones that hit more than one muscle group) and do 3 repeats of the circuit in as fast as possible.
3 Rounds for time:
20 Dumbbell Swings
In addition to the Crossfit, incorporate 20-60 minutes of Yoga 2-3 times per week into your program. The Yoga builds flexibility, static muscular endurance and speeds up recovery between workouts. Hard training makes muscles tight so you need to focus on keeping things loose and supple. Yoga is the best way to do it as it hits the whole body and builds cycling specific fitness at the same time.
Now is the time to start building the miles. This will start in the spring so you can get outside again. For most people, this means your can do a few hours a night during the week and build longer rides on the weekends. I’m in favor of doing a couple of interval workouts during the week along with a 1-2 steady rides with the longer rides on the weekend. Interval workouts will be split between one with shorter high intensity intervals and one with longer intervals. Try to get a long ride in both Saturday and Sunday on the weekends. Make one a harder workout with hills or a fast group ride and the other a steady aerobic ride. Just like the previous phase build your volume over three weeks and ease off on the fourth week. Keep the increase per week to no more than 10%. If you are aiming to do a century (100 miles) the time of your long rides should build to at least 5 hours.
During this phase you want to keep doing Yoga at least twice a week and do a couple of cross training workouts with a focus on the core and upper body muscular endurance. It doesn’t take much work each week to maintain the gains you made over the winter. As your legs are getting tons of work we don’t need to do cross training for them.
You want to build a quality that I call “Fatigue Resistance”. This is the ability to do repeated harder efforts without a decrease in performance. For endurance riding people think in terms of steady pace, but unless you are riding a perfectly flat course, you will have repeated hard muscular efforts with every hill climb. There is no way to do hills at the same level you do flat terrain, without going so slow you fall over. In endurance events you want to pace yourself on the climbs but they are still harder than riding on the flats. This is why we still have harder work during the Endurance building phase.
This is when we put the finishing touches on your fitness leading up to your key event for the season. It’s hard to maintain peak fitness for a long period so it’s important to plan your events ahead of time. During this time we will add some over distance rides as well as multi-day blocks to build capacity in the body. With block training your will do 3-4 days in a row of either long or hard workouts with a corresponding number of easy or rest days afterward. You want to time this phase so the week before your event is an easy week. During that week you want to cut hard intervals to one short session at least 5 days from the event and cut your volume by 20 % to give the body a chance to recover to a higher fitness level. During the last week before an event you can’t build any more fitness so you need to focus on recovery so you are as fresh as possible. This takes experimentation as some people do well with 5-6 days of recovery, while other can need a taper of up to 2 weeks depending on the workload and recovery ability.
A recovery phase can be at the end of the season or used mid season after a hard event to let you recovery to rebuild for the last half of the season. The rides are light and fun. Keep the workload mainly aerobic and recovery pace. Keep up the Yoga to loosen up the body and don’t start thinking about hard training until your body is fresh. After an event like a 24 hours solo mountain bike race, it can take up to 2 weeks for the fatigue to go away. When you start feeling like you want to go hard again, give it a few more days.
At the end of the competitive season, it’s a good idea to give your self at least a full week off the bike. Enjoy yourself and make sure that any riding you do is fun, not training.
As you can see from the number weeks in the phases, there is a lot of variation to how much time you spend in each. This is both a function of doing a given phase more than once during the year and how long your competitive season is. While the actual mechanics of a program can be pretty complex, the basic outline is pretty simple: get the body ready to train, build speed, add endurance, peak for your event and then recover. If you are self coached it can take a few seasons to work out the loads and durations that work for you but if you start with a plan you will get much further ahead than just trying to ride more.
Elite Cycling Fitness Endurance Training Programmes
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How to build elite cycling fitness for cycle racing training using top cycling fitness coaching and cycling training tips for personal fitness exercise. How to include exercise bike fitness into your cycle fitness training and triathlon training plans. Use a balanced cycling training programme to increase sprinting speed from your endurance training programmes. Understand more on a cross trainer workout,bike riding exercise and home exercise bikes from www.elitecyclingfitness.com
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Here are Two rules on drinking more water and restricting your caffeine to the morning
No caffeine after 3pm. Let’s be clear. Caffeine is a type of stimulant. Most of us want to kick-start our day with a strong tea or coffee. Again, moderation is the key. One proven fact is that caffeine de-hydrates your body faster. So again, just as with any alcohol that you are tempted to drink, try to always have two glasses of water, for every cup of strong tea or coffee that you consume. Another proven effect of caffeine is to stimulate insulin production, so that your system is then working over-time to process your blood sugar and get needed glycogen into your muscles. But it takes unused glycogen out of your muscles faster too. So you will feel hungrier, faster. The more coffee you have in the morning, the worse your hunger before lunch. And the bigger the temptation to load up your lunch, over the threshold fist size…
So cut back on the coffee and keep some nuts handy if you are feeling that 11am blood sugar low. There are some who also say that a little caffeine in your system can aid the fat-burning process during training. But even if you have an evening training ride or race, do not have normal tea or coffee after 3pm, or there will be too much caffeine in your system – and your sleep is likely to be affected. Late afternoon try to drink organic fresh mint tea, or lemon and ginger. Avoid Earl Grey, which can be high in caffeine. Then in the evening, make your own fresh mint tea in a pot (you can buy the leaves fresh growing in a pot from any supermarket). Camomile tea is also good for relaxing your body and mind, particularly after evening training, again to suppress appetite. But only one cup is recommended, even then only if you are not under any other sort of medication or anti-depressants. Please take medically qualified advice if you have any concerns.
When possible, drink a half litre of water every half hour. Water is really important during a fat-burning regime and so good for you to detox the system. Obviously this may not be possible if you are travelling, or unable to get to a bathroom in close proximity. But when you have a fixed day at home or in your office, just get into the habit of sipping on water. Keep a glass of tap water continually topped up. Unless you have any concerns about acidity, keep a few slices of lemon or lime in your water glass too. Plus add a few extra squeezes of the fresh lemon juice. As well as essential pampering of your very precious and beloved liver, this water concentration can act as mild appetite suppressant. You have to really concentrate to keep this intake going. But try to do it at least three days per week. Again, don’t go crazy. Never go over five litres a day if you have any sort of concerns or history with kidney or bladder problems. It will really help you forget about the taste of your favourite alcoholic drinks too.
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Here are Four Crucial Tips that apply whether you are a seasoned rider or a beginner, whether you are a top triathlete or a new Cyclist contemplating some testing sportives. We have learned our training methods through many hours and days riding with some of the world’s top riders. Here is a brief summary of the points that we feel really matter. Keep a regular eye on http://www.elitecyclingfitness.com for a wide range of other training and nutrition tips and subscribe for regular updates.
It’s important to keep a training and eating diary too, for every day’s activity and calorie consumption. You can think of these four new tips as golden rules - and if you try to just break ONLY one rule per week, then you WILL become a fitter cyclist. Just one rule though. If some rules seem too simple for you that’s fine - just keep a mental note of the rules that work for you.
1. Forget the gym
Seriously, unless you want to be a pure track sprinter, there is hardly any need to bulk up with weight training. And any other form of light gym work or cross training can become boring, irrelevant for your attempt at Elite Cycling Fitness, or downright harmful if you fail to warm up and stretch correctly. It can be even worse if you go intermittently, that’s less than twice a week. There really is only one substitute for extra kilometres out on your bike. And that’s time spent on your home bike trainer or spinning. Otherwise a good course of yoga is recommended to allow you to improve your stretching and relaxation abilities. But what about improving road sprinting power? There are many other road-based options for training to sprint well – see our advice on Sprint Interval Training.
2. Keep high pedaling cadence on low gears
This is so important for your long-term endurance. But also on every training ride. Low gears and high cadence will mean you fatigue more slowly and can dance up hills out of the saddle, even at the end of a two or three hour ride. This should be on ratios of around 42 x 15 or 43 x 16 for flat tempo riding.
3. Save the big chain ring for competition and interval sprint training
We never recommend much training in big gears. It can quickly cause knee problems and muscle strain. You should always be able to retain a high cadence and feel a supple “suplesse” pedaling action while training. Then, when you are racing and need to maintain that cadence but on higher gears, your legs will be more attuned. The exception is interval training - a great 40 minutes of intervals, sprinting (on quite roads with no side entrances) for trees, 250-350m ahead, in a gear of 53 x 14 or 52 x 15, will build the speed that you would need for criterium racing. Do this every two minutes with easy soft-pedaling in between. Use sharp corners to get your legs used to the pain of jumping hard from a low speed. This is one of several forms of training we will share with you on the site, to make you a better road sprinter.
4. Take ALL your body’s signals VERY Seriously
As a serious cyclist you are pushing your body. Regularly you are pushing your heart and lungs and legs into areas of fatigue that normally improve your fitness, but sometimes cause levels of strain or fatigue that you should heed and respect. Overtrain and your body will pay you back. Don’t stretch and warm up properly before interval training and you can easily pull a muscle. Check your waking, morning pulse and recognise when it is higher than average. Then make that day a rest day. Respond to aching knees or strains by immediately checking your riding position with an experienced coach; plus remember to check the alignment of your pedal cleats and riding shoes. If you regularly suffer chronic lower back pain, learn the relevant yoga stretches, for before and after your rides. In training, spend more time riding out of the saddle and lower your gears. But see your doctor, chiropractor and sports physiotherapist – and deal with the causes rather than the symptoms.
Also try to get at least 30 minutes of massage therapy when your muscles are sore, to improve blood flow to the sore muscle tissue and release micro-adhesions associated with muscle repair. This can be a painful technique to reduce soreness. Ask your senior teammates or doctor to recommend a good sports physiotherapist. Make sure you get at least eight to 10 hours of sleep to help with muscle recovery. Muscles that have been adequately repaired will not be sore. The body repairs itself at night and important hormones are triggered to signal repair to muscle tissue. Failing to get eight to 10 hours will decrease the hormonal response and recovery will be slower. This means the muscle tissue will be sore for a longer duration.