Cycling is a powerful and challenging endurance sport that requires both physical strength and stamina. As a cyclist, it is crucial to take your training to the next level in order to improve your performance and push your limits. In our blog, we delve deeper into important training principles for experienced cyclists and share some highly effective endurance workouts to enhance your skills.
Periodization: Discover the secret of periodization, an advanced training method that involves dividing your season into different strategic phases. By applying this approach, such as building a solid foundation, targeting specific skills, and optimizing your race preparation, you can tailor your training to the right intensity and volume, ultimately reaching your peak form at the right time.
Intensity and Duration: To constantly challenge yourself and engage different energy sources, it is essential to vary the intensity of your workouts. Perform high-intensity interval training to increase your anaerobic threshold, and challenge yourself with longer-duration workouts at low to moderate intensity to strengthen your aerobic capacity. This will improve your overall performance on the bike.
The Anaerobic Energy System: It is an important component of cycling. It refers to how your body produces energy without using oxygen. During short and intense efforts, such as sprints and climbing steep hills, your body uses readily available energy sources like ATP and glycogen to generate energy. This helps you move quickly and powerfully but has limitations as lactate is also produced. Lactate can cause fatigue and limit your endurance and intensity. Therefore, it is important to train both the aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic systems. This will improve your overall performance and endurance on the bike.
Strength Training: Give yourself an edge by incorporating strength training into your program. By integrating specific exercises like squats, lunges, and hip abductions, you strengthen the muscles used during pedaling. This added strength and power will elevate your cycling performance to new heights.
Epic Endurance Rides: Regularly add epic endurance rides to your training program. These longer rides, typically lasting over two hours, increase your stamina and acclimatize your body to prolonged efforts. Explore different routes and terrains to add variety to your long rides and take on new challenges.
Tempo Rides: Take yourself to the next level with tempo rides, where you maintain a steady, powerful effort just below your anaerobic threshold. This enhances your endurance and familiarizes you with riding at higher speeds. Incorporate interval blocks of 10-20 minutes at higher intensity into these rides to push your limits.
Climbing Training: If you want to excel on hilly courses, specific climbing training is essential. Seek out challenging climbs in your area and work on your strength and technique while climbing. By gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your climbing workouts, you enhance your ability to perform uphill.
Sprint Training: Although cycling is primarily an endurance sport, developing your sprinting ability is crucial, especially if you participate in races. Regularly perform sprint workouts that involve short, maximal efforts. This helps build explosive power and improve your sprinting technique, which is invaluable during crucial moments in a race.
To optimize your training and performance, you can benefit from using specific supplements popular in the cycling community. Here are some commonly used supplements that can take your training to the next level:
Whey/Casein Proteins: Proteins are essential for muscle recovery and growth. Choose high-quality protein powders like whey protein or casein protein to promote muscle recovery after intense workouts. Consuming protein immediately after your workouts or as a supplement to meals with lower protein content can be particularly beneficial.
Creatine is a supplement that can enhance performance in short-duration, high-intensity activities such as sprinting and strength training. It increases your strength, explosiveness, and the ability to deliver repeated efforts. It is particularly useful for cyclists who want to improve their sprinting power or incorporate strength training into their program.
BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) consist of three essential amino acids - leucine, isoleucine, and valine - and can help promote muscle recovery and reduce muscle breakdown. During long endurance rides, BCAAs reduce muscle fatigue and improve endurance. Take BCAAs before and during your long rides to reap the benefits.
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that increases the production of carnosine in the muscles. Carnosine helps buffer lactic acid, delaying fatigue during intense efforts. It is beneficial for cyclists looking to increase the intensity and duration of their training, especially during interval workouts and races.
Carbohydrate loading is a strategy that cyclists and other endurance athletes sometimes use to maximize glycogen stores in the muscles prior to a prolonged effort, such as a long-distance race or highly intensive training session. The goal is to increase fuel availability and improve performance. Here are the basic steps for carbohydrate loading:
1. Reduce training load: Start reducing the training load several days before the race or intensive training. This helps your body recover and store energy in the muscles.
2. Increase carbohydrate intake: Gradually increase your carbohydrate intake and focus on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. This helps increase glycogen stores in your muscles. We also have food supplements that you could use for this purpose. For example, Applied Nutrition’s Cream of Rice or Nutrend’s Carbosnacks (which can also be used during a race or training).
3. Avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods: Limit the intake of high-fat foods and foods that are high in fiber, as these can slow digestion and make you feel full. This can make it harder to consume enough carbohydrates.
4. Increase meal frequency and portion size: Divide your meals throughout the day into smaller, more frequent meals to increase carbohydrate intake. Ensure that each meal and snack contains carbohydrates.
5. Focus on carbohydrate-rich foods: Choose foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal, bread, and low-fat dairy products. These foods provide a good amount of carbohydrates and aid in glycogen loading.
6. Hydration: Make sure to stay adequately hydrated by regularly drinking water. Sufficient hydration supports glycogen storage in the muscles. In that case, choose MP3 Drinks’ Carb-Charger.
It’s important to note that carbohydrate loading is not necessary or suitable for all athletes. It depends on the duration and intensity of the effort and individual needs. It’s advisable to try out this strategy during training to see how your body responds before applying it to important races or intense training sessions. Consult a sports nutritionist or dietitian for personalized advice if needed.
Keep in mind that supplements can support your training and recovery, but they should never replace a balanced diet. It’s always best to obtain your nutritional needs primarily from whole foods. Consult a sports dietitian or medical professional before starting any supplements to ensure they are suitable for your specific needs and goals.
Remember, consistency in training, adequate rest and recovery, and a balanced diet are the keys to success in cycling. By embracing these principles and taking your training to the next level, you can continue to challenge yourself and improve your performance. Enjoy the process and reach new heights in this exciting world of advanced cycling.