Cycle Training

Cycle Training

Cycling is very enjoyable, both as a competitive sport and also as a fun pastime, it’s highly beneficial for your general health and also a great way to enjoy the outdoors, or indoors with cycle training aids. Here we provide some useful tips that can help you in your cycle training

Keep a training schedule

It can be a good idea to write down your training schedule at the start of each week or use one of the many cycling apps available to download online. Keeping track of your schedule can make your plan much more focused and concrete, thereby helping you to stick to it. Set out your plan each week and give yourself a challenge so that your performance steadily improves, but also keep it realistic and achievable so you’re not likely to give up because the expectations you’ve set for yourself are too high.

Power Meters

Power meters can be very useful aids in your training and are becoming increasingly popular, they can be quite expensive to buy depending on which model you want, although prices are coming down as they’re getting very popular.

They measure your power output while cycling, so that you can see exactly what sort of pace you’re going at, ah you might say, I could use a cheap heart rate monitor and bike computer to track my output and average speed etc, you could, but with heart rate and average speed, they can fluctuate wildly depending on many factors, whereas with a power meter, you get the raw output telling you exactly what power you’re generating, so you know immediately if you need to increase your pace to keep your output up or to increase it. The meters have a device that makes the measurement, as well as a head unit which is placed on the handlebars that read the power and stores the information so that you can monitor how you are improving.

Train with a partner

Cycling can be enjoyable on your own, allowing you to do your own thing when you want and where you want, but training with someone else can help enormously in keeping you motivated, especially if the weather’s particularly bad and not looking very inviting. Also, on the days when you’re just not feeling especially motivated to go out and train, your training partner can help to give you a much needed boost, and in addition you won’t want to let them down if they’ve made an effort to to show up. Your partner can also provide good company for you while on longer rides.

Join a Cycling Club

Joining a cycling club is also a very good way to keep up your motivation for training, as well as being great way to meet new friends who share the same love of cycling that you do. Riding with a club can also be safer, as a group of cyclists on the road can more easily be seen by drivers than a lone cyclist. Check out the local clubs in your area and see what type of cycling they do, whether leisurely rides or those of a more competitive nature, involving things such as road races or time trials. Part of the club cycling can include riding in a chain gang, where you take your turn at the front of the group for a period of time to keep the pace up, and then drop off to the back of the group and the second in line takes up the lead, and so on, and this gives you a fast paced ride for a good training session.

Stretching

Always make sure you do plenty of stretching exercises before your cycling to warm up muscles and tendons and increase your overall flexibility. Stretching as part of your routine will help you in avoiding injuries, as well improving your training performance. Don’t just concentrate on your legs, for overall flexibility do whole body stretching which includes shoulders, arms, back and core stretching.

Varied Gradients

You should include a wide variety of gradients in your training, it’s pointless sticking to an nice easy flat route all of the time, so throw in some routes that include gradients from gentle slopes to very steep hills, your body wont thank you for it at the time, but over time you’ll find that hill climbing is a great way to increase your overall strength and stamina. Also, most races will include a number of hill climbs, so this kind of training will be a vital ingredient if you’re planning to race at any point.

Interval Training

Interval training is a good way to really increase your fitness levels, and it’s done by riding in short, fast bursts with slower paced riding in between in each fast interval to recover, and you can vary the times of the intervals. One way of training in intervals is to try pyramid training, whereby the intervals are steadily extended and then decreased, or the other way round, and make sure you always warm up and cool down. Make sure you allow for recovery periods in between intense training sessions of any kind to allow your muscles to repair.

Training Alternatives

There can be many days when the weather is just too bad to go out and train, particularly when raining or if the roads are icy, so you might want an extra training activity to supplement your outdoor cycling, and with the benefit of avoiding busy traffic. On these occasions there are other useful training devices that you can use to keep your fitness levels up, for example turbo trainers and rollers.

Turbo trainers are a useful way to train indoors, whereby the bike’s back wheel is engaged on the turbo trainer, and depending on preference, you can leave the front wheel on the floor or raise it with a block, book or brick to level the bike. There are various types of devices on the turbo trainers which enable you to vary the resistance while training. As well as being useful when the weather’s bad, turbo trainers are also a good way for you to warm up before going on a ride or before a race.

Rollers are also great for training indoors as well as another option for warming up, you can either use the rollers with a stand to support the front fork if your balance isn’t great, or if your balance is good you can pedal without the stand. For a demonstration you can see my video here where I use a stand on my Tacx rollers, and my first effort here without a stand, as you can see, I prefer a stand as it saves a lot of messing about, having said that, I was on a mountain bike with chunky tyres and I would have fared better with a road bike or slick tyres on my mountain bike.

Nutrition

The correct nutrition is an important aspect of your cycle training, as well your general health and fitness. For tips on nutrition to help your cycling performance, see Cycling Nutrition.

Bike Size and Fit

It’s very important to have the right size bike, and to check your size requirements you can see our bike sizing charts. Also, make sure your saddle and handlebars are positioned correctly at the right height to ensure a comfortable position while you’re riding, which is not only good for your posture but also contributes greatly to your training performance.