Top 5 Cyclist Training Tips
By Myprotein Writer Stephen Gussin: Qualified Personal Trainer and a regular cyclist.
Do you love cycling? Looking to find the top tips for your training? Look no further in this article we’ll let you in on the top 5 cycling training tips!
To be the best you can be, you need a combination of mental strength, structured training and good relevant nutrition.
1. Train regularly all year round
During the summer months, the sun seems to have this magnetic effect on us and our bikes, making us highly motivated to go out and hit the road. But it’s important to remember that the fitness you build up from all that hard work in the warmer months must be maintained throughout the rest of the year.
There are more cooler months than warmer… especially in the UK, so in order to get the most out of your cycling it’s important to maintain motivation and training momentum. If you’re regularly missing a few weeks of training you’ll notice your fitness will start to suffer, your PR’s will drop and as a consequence your motivation will decrease.
Bad weather isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can motivate you to ride faster- you won’t dissolve… but who wants to be out in the rain for a long time! Keep riding in the winter months, even if it is only for an hour and once a week when you can fit it in. Regular rides are key to successful training and keeping that momentum and motivation up.
2. Vary your rides, making each one different
Every ride should be different and have a unique purpose. For example a low cadence ride will target your muscles differently than a high cadence ride.
A long flat ride will effect your cardiovascular system differently than a short hilly ride.
Too many club and amateur cyclists do longer rides at the same pace week after week. This is good for building base miles and endurance but it doesn’t help with explosive power or strength. Distances need to be varied along with tempo, intensity and effort.
As an example, your first ride of the week would be a short hilly ride staying in the saddle, your next ride a couple of days later would be sprint intervals and then probably on the weekend when you have more time a longer even paced ride.
The idea as part of a training schedule, is to work your muscles differently, to put them under load for varied durations. The adage “if you don’t use it you lose it” definitely applies here, for instance if you never ride out of the saddle you will be very poor at it when you try. Variation is key and enables you to iron out your weak points.
3. Set goals
There is always a lot of talk in the cycling press about setting yourself goals, but these goals need to be SMART goals:-
S – specific
M – measurable
A – attainable
R – realistic
T – time-based
Without following the SMART goal criteria you cannot obtain the desired results and often a certain amount of structure and direction is required if you want to reach the finish. It is very easy to set unobtainable goals, fall short and lose heart. Breaking them down into smaller achievable goals allows for better tracking of performance and achievements which in turn keeps your motivation and direction on track.
Think of your goals, short, medium and long term, then apply the SMART goal criteria. As you achieve your goals it will give you the drive and confidence to continue to new heights and reach superior levels.
4. Follow a good diet
“Nutrition is 70% of training” – this is a statement which has been around for a long time but I suspect a lot of people still seem to ignore. “You are what you eat” is another home truth- when you go out on a ride you need energy, but even more importantly you need to start taking your energy in from the day before. Many of us give no consideration to our pre-ride nutrition. A lot of cyclists do not put an energy drink or powder into their water bottles, this is very important as it not only gives you energy throughout the duration of the training session but it also acts to replace important minerals and salts which are paramount for optimal muscular performance.
Our muscles are 70% water, it is therefore vital we maintain hydration during training and if you do not take enough liquid in during your session… trust me your muscular performance will suffer. You should be well hydrated in the few hours before you leave and aiming to drink 500ml per hour during your cycling session. I see many cyclists who go out on a 3 or 4 hour ride with only one 500ml bottle… bad decision.
If you want to chase those PR’s, be up there on Strava or really just push yourself to be better, you have to fuel yourself first. Nutrition including hydration and water intake is vital to your performance.
5. Stretch before and after rides
Last but not least- stretching! Stretching before and after your ride is very very important… after all, noo one wants to injure themselves and spend time off the bike. By spending several minutes a day getting yourself ready for your ride and recovering from your ride, you’ll prevent injury and actually improve your performance.
Simple dynamic stretches before your ride acts to warm up the relevant muscle groups, allowing you to ride comfortably and minimise potential injuries from cold muscles. Static stretches when returning from a ride will help yo loosen stiff muscles, again preventing future injury. In the past, I’ve personally witnessed someone who did not do any warming down or stretching at all, they sat down for a while after their cycling session then got up,ran up the stairs …bang! A torn Achilles’ tendon!
It doesn’t take long to do stretches and I know it can be frustrating and boring but believe me it takes a lot longer to recover from the injury.
A Take Home Message
If your not already doing so, make sure you follow these 5 top tips and help maximise your cycling potential today! Behind every healthy individual and successful athlete- is an optimum and balanced nutrition!