In this article I hope to shed some light onto the broad topic of Cycling Training Programs to help you determine the best approach to your cycling training. In particular, it is geared toward those who are planning to participate in Bicycle Network's The Ascent Women's Challenge Ride in April 2016.
Still have questions? Feel free to leave a comment and I'll try my best to answer them!
What is a Training Program :
A Training Program is a planned schedule for you to follow, with activities listed on particular days, in order to gradually build up your fitness for an upcoming event or fitness goal. Many cycling training programs are based around a 4-week block (or similar), with the final week being an ‘Active Recovery’ week.
In a 4 week block program, the first 3 weeks are designed to incrementally push you beyond your fitness limitations, and the 4th week allows your body to adapt to the increased level of fitness and recover from the stresses of training. This is not an excuse put your feet up for a week – it is important to keep moving during this week, hence the use of the word ‘active’!
If you are planning on having a regular massage (a great idea!) as part of your training routine, it would be ideal to schedule it in during the Active Recovery week. (Conveniently I'm also a Remedial Massage Therapist, check out www.path-to-wellness.com for more information!)
Why use a Training Program :
By training consistently and gradually increasing the load on your body over an extended time, you will achieve better results, and most likely enjoy the event more as you will be better prepared. It takes time for your body to adapt to training and increase fitness – cramming all your training into a short space of time before an event doesn’t pay off!
Working in with your busy schedule :
If you are unable to follow The Ascent Training Program exactly as written, you may need to adjust the program to suit your schedule and work around your other commitments. However, for this program, you should aim to have two ride sessions during the week and a longer ride on the weekend, and try to have a day of active recovery or gym training in between ride sessions.
If you miss a session, just go onto the next session in the schedule; don’t try to cram two sessions into one day as this may overload your body and affect your ability to progress with the training program.
In case of poor weather or time limitations :
If the weather is bad, or you are unable to get out on the bike during the week, you may opt to complete the weekday sessions indoors, either on an indoor trainer or a spin bike at the gym. Try to use a spin bike at the gym rather than an exercise bike, as this will more closely mimic your position on your road bike – allowing your body to adapt to being in this position for extended periods of time.
Indoor sessions can be rather boring, so to make them more interesting, try watching a cycling-specific training video. There are many to be found on YouTube (some good, some less so…), and other websites which offer exciting videos including training suggestions and exciting race footage.
However, you should try to complete as many ride sessions outdoors on your road bike as possible as this will give you the most realistic preparation for the event.
Supplementary activities :
In The Ascent Training Program, I recommends at least one ‘core strength’ session per week. This is important for building up the muscles which stabilise your position on the bike, as well as contributing to your power output. Most gyms offer classes which focus on core strength, and if you are unsure, consult a personal trainer.
This program also suggests at least one ‘yoga’ session per week. This is important to help stretch your muscles after long sessions on the bike, and improve your balance and flexibility – many gyms offer yoga or similar movement classes which are of great benefit to cyclists.
Would you like a more detailed, personalized program ?
Contact Bike it Better for a personalized training program which includes specific training workouts for building your endurance, strength, power and speed. If you have a heart rate monitor, this can also be incorporated to focus your training to achieve better and faster results. Personalized training programs also include direct access to Cazz for advice, along with a knowledge-base of training tips and information.
Visit www.bikeitbetter.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.