Training Tips for Making More Gains in your Cycling

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By Russell Stevenson

Hey everyone, are you getting psyched for Obliteride? From everything I’m hearing it’s going to be an awesome ride. I hope you’ve been out on your bike and following some of the tips from my last article where I talked about Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Here I offer more tips for optimizing your FTP and help you make even more gains on your bike.

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Training Tip 1—Train in Your Sweet Spot
For the purpose of training for Obliteride (or other lengthy events) the most important tool in your tool chest is your sustainable power. For this I recommend spending much of your training in the “sweet spot” at Level 3 which is about 85% of your FTP. This is the best “bang for your buck” so to speak. You will achieve the necessary adaptations as well as push your FTP upwards. The other key to this zone is duration. If possible, try to reach or surpass the four-hour mark while spending about half of that in Zone 3.

Training Tip 2—Test Your Limits Occasionally
Determine, test and revisit your FTP in training. No, this does not mean go out and ride at 100% every day. It means periodically test yourself by doing a 20-minute time trial. The key here is to make the test duplicable. Find a favorite road, a hill, a Velodrome or use an indoor trainer, and do your test once a month. I like to have athletes well-rested when they do their tests (perhaps a day or two following a rest week).

Training Tip 3—Indulge in Recovery Time
Rest must accompany hard work. It’s a typical misunderstanding that “if I just train harder I will be faster”. This is all too common among racers and high-level riders. The fact is that only when you rest will you mend and reap the training benefits. Rest should be integrated into your training on a regular schedule in the same manner your training is structured. A very common structure is two to three weeks of training accompanied by one easy week with multiple days off. Even within those two to three weeks, riders should take short one- to two-day breaks to allow muscles to heal.

Training Tip 4—Lighten Up
Lose weight! If you have the time and focus to shed those extra few pounds before the ride, you should! Being light and powerful is almost always the answer to making gains in this sport. Don’t believe those “miracle diets” or pills that promise instant weight loss. Long-term sustainable weight loss starts with adjusting your diet and eliminating inflammatory foods. My rule of thumb is: eat as close to the source (earth) as possible and always look for the most “net gain” and “bio availability” in the food you eat.

Good luck and have fun training.

About Russell Stevenson

Russell Stevenson is a USAC Level 2 coach, NASM certified personal trainer and holds numerous bike fitting certifications. With several years of experience in road, cyclocross and mountain bike training and racing, Russell excels in outdoor workshops and skills clinics. Russell is the current Master’s National Champion and Master’s World Champion in Cyclocross (35+).

The legal stuff: The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

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