You train a lot on your bike, but you don’t improve. What can you do?
You train a lot but you don’t get better. It is a situation that can occur throughout the year and is affecting many cyclists especially in the period after confinement.
The reasons can be very different, but listening to the different speeches and looking at the statistics on Strava, it seems that the main problem is the excessive number of kilometres travelled.
Home confinement has led to a great desire to cycle which has led and continues to lead many of us to organise very long and close rides without giving us the time we need to recover.
On the one hand, it’s a good thing. Also complicit in the absence of competitions, it is a bit like “rediscovering the pleasure of cycling as an end in itself”, without goals or tables. It is also a good way to improve aerobic capacity and endurance, which are essential in a sport like cycling.
If you were not used to it, doing so many miles has certainly produced some benefits and an overall improvement. However, there comes a point where continuous training no longer brings improvements, on the contrary.
1. One rest week
Work, rest, work, rest. Don’t forget that, to improve, you need to balance your training and rest cycles.
This is the only way to activate Overcompensation. And what will that be? The body, once it has reached the maximum point of tension, needs to rest in order to start again from the highest level that has been reached with the training.
How can you tell if you need to rest? Here are some symptoms we have all experienced at least once:
- heart rate increases with greater difficulty
- feeling of stiff legs and lack of strength
- difficulty sustaining high intensity efforts.
In these cases, here’s what to do
- plan only two rides of 1h30′-2h during the week, pedalling with agility
- cycling a single day at the weekend, not exceeding 3/4 hours
- stretching and relaxing massages
Without any particular problem, the following week the strength will return and you will be ready to do new important workouts.
Remember, if you train regularly, alternate one week of rest every 3 or 4 weeks of intense work.
2. Less quantity, more quality
In a discipline like cycling, it is essential to build a base of aerobic endurance, because it allows you to better tolerate the many hours spent in the saddle. However, if you want to improve your level, you can’t only train this aspect, but you should also focus on strength, pace variation and anaerobic capacity.
Therefore, if it is a period in which you have done a lot of kilometres, it is absolutely necessary to reduce the quantity and increase the quality.
Even during periods of intense training, plan two high-intensity workouts of no more than two hours.
Spend the weekend doing long routes, even longer than 5 hours.
The rule is simple: you have to be fresh and attentive to do quality training.
3. Diversify your training
Diversifying your training stimuli is the secret to increasing your fitness level.
Cycling at the same pace, even for many kilometres, will not lead to an improvement at any time. Your body basically goes into a comfort zone and settles down.
Therefore, it is necessary to alternate different types of effort, even on the two quality days we talked about in the previous paragraph. How? Rotating, one day exercising the aerobic threshold, another day the strength, another day the variations of rhythm, etc.
And don’t forget, whenever possible plan group outings, which are always stimulating.