Do you need structure in your cycling training?
Richard Lang, CEO of our partner SPOK’D, has put together everything you need to know to help break down the myths behind structured cycling training. Being a former pro cyclist he knows the ins and outs of a cyclist’s life at the very top so you can be sure he knows what he’s talking about.
Here’s what he has to say:
“You may think – “I am not a professional so why do I need to follow a structured training plan? I just want to ride my bike and have fun”.
Following a structured cycling training plan doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your cycling routine. It’s about getting the most of your time on the bike. To help break down the myths behind structured training, we need to understand what it is.”
What is structured cycling training
Structured training doesn’t need to be complicated. In essence, it follows three principles that you can fit within your cycling routine
Even if your goal is about getting the round the bunch to polish off a nice bit of cake and coffee. You still have a goal. You want to be able to keep up and enjoy the bunch ride. Goals help create purpose and influence the type of efforts ridden.
Your routine dictates when you can ride. That is the way it should be. This is why training templates do not work, due to its rigidity.
Creating benchmarks help measure fitness. Plus you don’t need to have any fancy equipment. Benchmarks can vary from; avg. speed, Strava segments, perceived effort (how your legs are walking up the stairs) to even your pecking order in the bunch. The purpose of benchmarks is to keep you honest.
How can you fit structure into your rides
Riding solo is a great way to control the level of intensity and distance but cycling is a fantastic social sport. So how do we add structure in to cycling training when we can’t control everything? Generally, there are two common types of rides we can get out of:
The majority rules. The pace and route selection is dictated by the bunch, which leaves you very little control over what you can do. But that’s ok. Depending on your goal there are a couple of tricks:
- Strength work – when you’re on the wheels in the bunch, lower your cadence by going to a harder gear. Now you’re starting to focus on strength, without disrupting the flow of the bunch.
- Aim to have a bit more time on the front – by challenging yourself, it will allow you to develop a bigger aerobic engine that allows you to become fitter. Plus, don’t be afraid of doing those extra turns, you won’t receive any windburn when you’re on the front
Riding into work and back doesn’t have to be monotonous. These type of rides can add great value to your riding. How you can add a structure doesn’t have to be complicated. You can:
- Pick a few Strava segments to attack – a few times per week aim to target a couple of segments, which will help measure progression and help with motivation. Plus they do light up your competitive spirit.
- Add a small loop – if you have 15 minutes to spare go for it. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there all add up to your weekly and even monthly workload. By doing this, you’re storing km in the bank which allows you to become stronger at the back end of your endurance rides.
Planning structure into your routine
Structured training doesn’t mean you need to double your workload. Structured training helps create a framework to work from. A common method is to ride 3 weeks on with 1 week off.
3 week on
Over the 3 weeks, you can progress your intensity. This could range from an extra 5 min on the front or going for one extra Strava segment. If you’re routine allows, your volume may increase but be sure not to lift volume and intensity at the same rate.
1 week off
This is your recovery week. Your volume may not vary as you need to commute to work and you enjoy your Sunday morning bunch, but your intensity does. During this week, aim to keep to the lower end where you can. Plus, during a recovery week, this is where the gains are made. You’re improving your fitness now without having to do any extra work, who doesn’t like that? Plus this recovery time allows you to dig deeper and go faster in the following weeks.
Why do I need structured cycling training?
Structured training doesn’t need to be complicated and there are a few benefits why you need to factor it in:
- Improves your fitness without having to do any extra mileage
- Creates variety that avoids boredom and increases motivation
- Allows you to become more consistent and avoid burnout
- Helps you get the most out of your training
Cycling is a long game sport. It rewards the rider who is consistent and is smart with their training.
If you have a few goals this year and not too sure on how to best it approach them, you can create an account to train with SPOK’D on a 3-week free trial. If you have any questions, they want to hear from you – @getspokd
“At SPOK’D, we’re passionate about helping more people enjoy the benefits of personalised training. We’re not about replacing human coaches but finding a way to bring this expertise to more people in simple, accessible & affordable ways.” Behind SPOK’D is all the expertise of Rich, Chris & Will – it’s this human input that makes SPOK’D so powerful.
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