I recently had a client ask me whether he was riding too soft. He was comparing himself to his cycling buddies and they were putting out more power and riding at a higher heart rate than him. And, was asking me should he be riding harder.

In this video, I explain why riding harder is sometimes counterproductive and what to do to actually solve this problem so that you can improve your fitness and be able to ride at the same level or higher than your cycling mates.


Hey, it’s David Heatley here today from Cycling-Inform, and I’m just responding to an email from one of my clients. He’s asked me, “David, I’m just comparing my fitness level to some of the other riders that I have in my group, and they’re putting out more power and riding at higher heart rates. Should I be pushing myself more to improve my fitness?” So my answer to this question is really simple, but it is a little bit counter, what’s the word for it, counterintuitive for a lot of people to understand this.

So if, for example, you’re here and the mates that you’re riding with fitness level is here, you just go “Well, I just need to be riding harder and faster to get up there.” And what you’re saying by doing that is, and I’ll give you an example, if you’re driving around in a Toyota Yaris. Here’s the Toyota Yaris, it’s great for driving around town, not so great out on the open highway. And you’re comparing yourself, or you want to keep up with, a high-performance car, let’s say a Porsche, up here. Now of course, one of the things that you can do is drive the Yaris really hard, in the attempt to try and lift it up to the level of the performance of the Porsche, understanding that it’s never going to be the case. It’s kind of like, if I just, as a cyclist, if I just ride harder or faster, I’ll be as good as the Porsche. But the reality is that your fitness level isn’t there to be able to do that, just like the Yaris is not physically capable of producing the same sort of performance as a Porsche.

So what you want to focus on instead, is focus on lifting your fitness up to that level. And how we do that is that we work on getting the fundamentals of your cycling sorted out. And that’s your consistency with your training, building a good volume of aerobic base training, building strength. Those are the foundational aspects of your training that actually build a bigger engine. So they build fitness to take your fitness up and lift it up towards the level of the high performance of your “more fitness mates”? The riders that you’re riding with that are fitter than you. So that’s how you bring your performance up. And obviously, on top of that, we would lay a layer of speed work on it as well.

Now, I’ve got a whole lot of other videos that talk about some of the issues around speed work, and that speed work’s not the holy grail in solving all of your cycling problems. So just understand that it’s the foundational stuff, aerobic base training, strength training, working on your consistency, that helps lift your fitness up, and then the speed training helps boost it just that fraction bit more. So I hope that helps explain that. It’s been David Heatley here from Cycling-Inform. Be awesome on the bike.