The best strategies that will keep you fresh for spring
The winter season and the prospect of a fresh cycling year on the horizon seems to be a big motivator for many of us. We imagine the glory to be had next summer and our motivation climbs to new heights. This is great, but before you can get to the upcoming cycling season, you have to manage your efforts throughout the winter.
The trainer is a great tool, but can be draining in its monotony. It is not somewhere to spend hours at a time. If you are not careful, highly motivated winter training can lead to summer burnout. You need the right workouts to make sure you come out of winter ready for spring.
During the winter, vary your training, touching on different energy systems using micro, short and long intervals. Do some training off the bike—snowshoeing, hiking, skiing and strength training are all good options for maintaining basic endurance. Getting outdoors into the fresh air can work wonders for you.
Remember that you are not looking to be race fit during the winter. The first events of the cycling season won’t happen until April and your season goals may not be until mid-summer.
Keep your trainer workouts manageable. Riding on the trainer is not the same as being outdoors. If you can do 7 x 2 minutes outdoors, perhaps you should only do 5 x 2 minutes on the trainer. The workout will be manageable, you will hit your workout targets, and finish feeling positive about your efforts. A perfect workout for the trainer is the Ultimate Plus (below).
Take the motivation you have for the upcoming season and channel it into some smart training. Keep in mind that the objective of training is to be fit for your goals in the summer, not for winter turbo riding. Most of all, remember that mental freshness will be your biggest ally when it comes to winter training.
An Ultimate Plus workout
A perfect workout for the trainer is the Ultimate Plus, developed by Guy Thibault from the University of Montreal’s department of kinesiology. The workout doesn’t have prescribed heart rate or power zones. In addition to being a challenging workout, the Ultimate Plus is also an excellent exercise in developing your pacing.
Warm up for approximately 15 minutes. For the last five minutes of the warmup, ride at 105 r.p.m. or higher (small ring, light gear) keeping your heart rate below 75 per cent of your maximum. Take a few minutes after the high cadence work to compose yourself. The goal is to do all of the following intervals within each set at a very high intensity, close to the maximum sustainable intensity for the duration of each interval. The shorter the intervals, the greater the intensity will be. Most motivated riders will do the first set of 9 x 30 seconds at approximately their maximal aerobic power, and increase their intensity by about 50 watts from set to set. The final set (15-second repeats) will be done at approximately 150 watts above their maximal aerobic power.
9 x 30 seconds on/30 seconds off with 1 minute rest, total, before starting the next interval set
8 x 25 seconds on/35 seconds off, 2 minutes rest, total, before starting the next interval set
7 x 20 seconds on/40 seconds off, 3 minutes rest, total, before starting the next interval set
6 x 15 seconds on/45 seconds off, 4 minutes rest, total, before starting the cool down
10 minutes easy with a cadence higher than 90 r.p.m.