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training for cycling

Looking at the fundamentals of cycling training

Power Meter Training Dynamics


Power is the beast within us waiting to be unleashed. Every movement is precise and distinct waiting to be captured and measured. It demands our full attention and is the physiological attribute we desire most. Without power we are nothing!

Some cyclists have become obsessed with measuring their power. They live or die by how much power they can or cannot generate.

Every aspect of their training becomes entrenched in power training fundamentals. They correlate it to corresponding physiological constraints; create targeted power zones to manage stress and fatigue, and monitor it to achieve peak performance.


Should you buy a power meter?

If you’re not measuring power there is a good chance you’re not performing at your best.
Crawl before you walk. Learn your ABCs before you write a book. Understand the core elements that drive sports science performance before mastering the language of power.

If you run before you walk you risk falling prey to the wonderful world of power training. The concepts are exciting, captivating and enticing. It’s a world full of numbers, ratios, and graphs, revolutionizing the sport of cycling.




Improve your Efficiency


In the Bicycling World, cycling technique is rarely mentioned. As a cyclist, all you do is pedal in circles, or is that squares? You sit in a relatively fixed position and move through space in a singular dimension. Why bother focusing on technique? It has limited value to increase your cycling performance!! If force allows us to control and initiate movement, and speed provides us with quickness, than cycling technique is the element that creates efficient movement patterns. Efficiency is the result of refining your cycling technique, and improving your technique is a result of practice.

Power (force x speed) is a wonderful attribute to possess, but if you are not efficient you will never succeed as a cyclist. Your performance will always be limited!

Powerful movement and appropriate energy distribution is a learning component that should be attributed to cycling technique. Consider integrating the core elements in a holistic fashion as opposed to focusing on a singular physiological system.


Endurance Training For Cycling


Endurance training for cycling can seem rather difficult to fully comprehend. The primary reason is simple. Endurance is an expansive term. Ultimately, you are contending with an overlay of multiple sports science theories.

To increase your endurance you must identify which physiological system you are trying to stress. For cycling training (fundamentals of cycling training), there are  4 different systems that you need to stress to amplify your stamina.

The following systems are:

Each system has a limitation as to their adaptive abilities. And of course, each cyclist is limited by their genetic attributes. While endurance may be a sweepingly broad term it doesn’t mean we can’t define it. But its still part of the fundamentals of cycling training.

Cycling endurance demands a combination of low-intensity endurance and high-intensity endurance. The amount will vary depending on the cycling discipline you choose to partake in.

Low-intensity endurance is usually defined by low levels of peak power, energy supplied by aerobic metabolism, and the utilization of fat for fuel. It is the capacity to sustain prolonged movement patterns that combine force and speed.

High-intensity endurance is characterized by high lactate levels, higher peak power outputs, and anaerobic metabolism. It is the ability to repeatedly generate maximal power outputs within a given workout or competition.

Your cycling endurance will not fully develop if you do not implement the correct type of endurance training. It is imperative that you balance the quantity of high intensity and low-intensity endurance exercise. Neglecting to integrate corresponding endurance exercise within your cycling routine could prove catastrophic.


cycling training fundamentals


Manage Fatigue and Improve


our goal with any cycling training program should be to maximize your performance. You need to set objectives and design an appropriate training plan that allows you to accomplish your desired goal. The plan must be specific and individual and must induce physiological and psychological improvements while managing fatigue.

Recreational cyclists who simply enjoy their cycling may not need to have a structured cycling training program. However, the aspiring cyclist and the competitive cyclist must have a plan. You will not succeed without one.

A cycling training program plays a critical role in managing stress and adaptation. It is designed to ensure that a cyclist is optimally prepared to reach his/her targeted goal and objective. A successful program provides assurance that an athlete will be physically and psychologically prepared to undergo the desired stressors to maximize his/her potential. A cyclist will prosper if he is able to adapt to the program and improve.

Many cyclists logically understand the importance of physiological parameters but they lack the knowledge to implement them correctly in an integrated plan. Often they lack the ability to intimately understand recovery. Fatigue and pain are easily identified, but feeling healthy, strong and rejuvenated are not. Cycling training is supposed to be tough and hard. You can’t be a Champion if you’re not living in a state of fatigue. And, tiredness and achy muscles should be your new best friends. Wrong!


Find the Road to Success Using Periods

The most widely recognized and implemented cycling training program is linear periodization. It’s an annual training plan that is divided into phases and then divided even further. Each period focuses on developing a specific physiological, psychological, and technical skill that will enhance a cyclist’s performance. Classically, this system emphasizes general fitness elements of low intensity and then builds towards specific high-intensity periods/workouts.

Recently some cyclists have adopted a new training system termed reverse periodization. This program is designed using established principles rooted in sports science. However, the organizations of the periods deviate from classical or linear periodization. I believe that the reverse periodization approach could have a negative impact on road cyclist, but could prove beneficial to the pure time trialist.


road cycling


Cycling Workouts – Be Holistic

Look to your right! Look to your Left! No matter where you look these days you’ll find a magazine, a friend, or a cycling ‘guru’ touting new cycling workouts that you should implement.

While the information might have merit it may not be suitable to you. In fact, it could prove to be detrimental to your performance. Do you really want to jeopardize your whole season?

Cycling workouts need to be planned in accordance to your annual cycling training plan. A workout needs to address the particular physiological parameter you intend to build and improve. By neglecting the importance of planning you inevitably neglect the significance of your cycling performance.

If you understand the premise of super compensation then you seriously need to consider the planning and sequencing of your workouts. You need to stress your body and then let it adapt. If this process is not adhered to correctly you get it wrong. You get it all WRONG!

Successful and competent coaches understand the merit of correctly planning and integrating cycling workouts into an overall plan.


The One Workout that Does it All

Productive cycling workouts should be focused and purposeful. Workouts should complement one another and an athlete should never focus their attention solely on one type of workout.

Some competitive cyclists adopt a mindset where they believe they’re one workout away from reaching greatness. They unknowingly ascertain information that reinforces their avant-garde assumption. Everything becomes confirmed and entrenched. It’s vicious, short-sighted, and destructive.

Sports science fundamentals get thrown out the window, or manipulated to suit the cyclist’s new innovative awareness. Not only do their workouts become impaired, but so does their overall plan and performance.


cycling training


Reaching Peak Performance

Have you ever dreamt of that illusive feeling of effortlessly moving at high speed? Your legs moving up and down like well-oiled pistons. Your heartbeat methodical and rhythmical like that of a grandfather clock. And each breath, a forceful controlled locomotive-like stream of power.

Athletes, coaches and sports scientist continually strive to unearth the mystical components necessary for peak performance. Peaking is the ultimate goal of a cyclist’s training plan. Nothing beats a day, week, or month where you’re one with your bike. You’re so physically strong that you often question whether your chain is on.

Peaking is an integral part to a competitive cyclist’s annual training plan. Every period of training preceding the peaking phase should have been sequenced with the intent to maximize physiological and psychological readiness for this stage. No stone should have been left unturned!


Tapering: An essential component of the peaking process

Peaking is often associated with tapering. Tapering is nothing more than shedding fatigue. It’s a form of stress reduction that leads to positive enhancements.

Too effectively peak a cyclist must undergo a phase of base training and a phase of the competition. Tapering seeks to manipulate the fundamental training variables, volume, frequency and intensity. Volume is typically reduced while the frequency of workouts is maintained. Periodically, intensity will increase depending on the type of cycling involved. Peaking is still very much an art.

Tapering must dissipate accumulated fatigue from your everyday training. Not only must a taper reduce the fatigue it must maintain specific fitness. In order to reach peak performance, a cyclist must have a desirable amount of fitness that coincides with positive physical and psychological alterations. A cyclist should feel rejuvenated, energetic and have a reduced perception of effort.