As we all know, the winter months are notorious for making it difficult to do your winter cycle training. The colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours make it harder than usual to keep motivated and get outside for extended periods. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your fitness levels high through the winter, even if you are indoors more often than not. In this article, I’ll explain how the winter months can benefit your cycle training if you’re willing to adjust your routines accordingly. I’ll outline some of the most effective ways to build your fitness during the winter months so that you hit spring in top form, ready for an even more awesome summer of riding.
Jump start your base cycle training
Many cyclists undertake base training during the off-season to build up their foundation. Long, low-intensity rides are typical to build their base in this period of winter cycle training. It means building up the underlying foundation or aerobic fitness from doing longer rides. That is why we get so much benefit from doing them so we can focus more on our high-intensity sessions when the sun comes out in spring. Unfortunately, many of us do not have the time or opportunity to ride as much as world tour riders do, during our winter cycle training. And when we do get out on the bike, we want to make sure that it serves a purpose and we’re getting something out of the session. And if you only have an hour to train, then going out for a one-hour ride in E1 may not be the best use of your time. Now, that’s not to say base km’s are pointless, they are important, and they do have the added bonus of helping you physiologically. Sometimes you need an unstructured spin with your mates to get you through that week. It is critical to remember that everyone is unique, and solely concentrating on base training may sometimes result in a negative outcome. For instance, if you do too much base training, you might get good at riding at one speed, so you may want to mix it up a bit with sprints and some high-intensity efforts.
Include indoor cycle training as part of your winter cycle training
Doing an indoor session is where it’s at if you don’t have time to waste during the winter months doing your winter cycle training while it’s raining and windy. The indoor trainer, for example, enables you to get a high-intensity workout done. You don’t have to worry about the weather stopping you from getting a great session done when on an indoor trainer. The trainer enables you to get a great workout without worrying about any traffic on the roads or anything else. Indoor trainers can be used by both beginners and serious riders, as they can help improve your technique as well as build up your endurance levels for longer rides outdoors when the weather gets better again during the summer months. We have a lot of indoor training sessions, including climbing sessions, hill sprints and intervals that you can do that will develop all aspects of your cycling fitness during winter.
Train your cycling fitness weaknesses
To become a better all-around cyclist, you should train on your weaknesses during your winter cycle training. However, remember your goals and their relevance to what you are working towards. For example, if you’re a good time trialist but a terrible sprinter, you might struggle to achieve your goals if you purely work on your sprinting. Before you begin, you must have a goal-oriented plan that includes your strengths and weaknesses. Remember not to forget this point. Otherwise, you may de-train your strengths, and they become weaknesses. To improve your sprinting, you might want to add some weight training and sprint drills to your routine. However, be careful not to overdo it. Too much of a good thing can have negative effects on the body. You may want to consider hiring a coach for feedback on what is working and what isn’t. That’s where we can help. For time trials, you need endurance but also power and speed. To achieve this balance, you may need to train harder than normal or even do high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT involves doing short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or recovery. For example, you might ride hard for one minute followed by easy pedalling for one minute before repeating the cycle several times.
Off the bike strength training for cyclists
Many cyclists do some strength training during their winter cycle training that makes them stronger when spring comes again. Although strength and conditioning training is often overlooked, it can have huge benefits in performance and everyday life. It may be included up to three times per week in your workout program during the off-season.
Make sure to devote one or two weekly sessions to strength and conditioning as your bike hours increase. Developing core strength and injury prevention is the primary goal. You want to develop a greater range of flexibility and stronger muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. And this will result in fewer injuries and longer durability as you increase your volume and intensity in the summer months. Check out our 30 day trial membership that give you access to our off the bike strength training sessions.
Rest if sick or tired
Make sure to take some time off to rest if you’re sick or tired during your winter cycle training. You should rest if you’re not feeling 100 per cent, and the number one piece of advice here is not to stress out if you can’t ride your bike. The best thing to do if you don’t feel 100 per cent is to take a few days off the bike and recover. The worst thing you can do is push through in the long term. You’ll do much more damage. Taking a mental break is just as important as a physical break after the racing season is finished. Make sure that you don’t have any major commitments coming up so that you can recover and recuperate properly.
Keep your cycle training interesting during winter with cross-training
If you’re a cyclist who can’t ride without future events or races to look forward to during the winter, try something new. Mountain bike, cycle cross and gravel rides can be great alternatives. Just ensure to stay within your riding abilities and don’t end up crashing, resulting in more time off the bike. In addition, you can cross-train with rowing or swimming, both fantastic substitutes for cycling during the winter.
With a bit of preparation and planning, winter training can be very effective. So hopefully, this article has provided some tips to help you with your motivation and fitness. Make sure to put together a training plan and set your goals and objectives so that you can create more purpose around your winter training. This will help when the motivation gets low. And, remember to take care of your body when out in the weather.
Other articles of interest:
Cycling Heart Rate Zones Explained – How To Use Heart Rate Monitor And Zones To Improve Your Cycling
How To Work Out Your Cycling Heart Rate Zones
Introduction To Cycling Power Zones
[VIDEO] – Why it’s important to ride your bike through winter
How To Get Back On Track With Your Winter Training – Winter Cycle Training Tips
The Thermal Base Layer – Your Secret To Staying Warm While Out Riding Your Bike This Winter
Our Leaner Cyclist Program
Off-the-bike strength training for cyclists
Check out our training products