Regardless of your riding experience—whether you're a seasoned pro or brand-new to the sport—training can be both tough and gratifying. Using intervals, power metres, and heart rate training are all good to increase your cycling performance.
Here are some useful cycling training terms to understand before you read further:
Threshold Power and Heart rate: The greatest intensity that an athlete can maintain for an extended length of time without experiencing a substantial decline in performance is referred to as threshold power and heart rate in cycling. A 20-minute time trial is one test that can be used to establish threshold power, which is commonly expressed in watts. The heart rate that correlates to an athlete's threshold power is called the threshold heart rate.
Increasing an athlete's endurance and capacity to maintain a high degree of effort for a longer amount of time through training at or near the threshold might be beneficial. An athlete might perform a threshold ride, for instance, by maintaining a constant effort for a predetermined period of time at or slightly below their threshold power or heart rate.
It's vital to remember that an individual's fitness level, age, and other factors might affect threshold power and heart rate. As an athlete's fitness progresses, it's also critical to constantly evaluate and modify threshold levels.
How can we determine threshold Power and Heart rate?
20 minute time trial: Completing a 20 minute time trial effort at a steady and sustained rate is a standard technique for calculating threshold power. The athlete's threshold power can be calculated using the average power production during this time trial. By measuring heart rate at the conclusion of the time trial effort, the threshold heart rate can be found.
Field tests: Several field tests, like the 30-minute time trial test and the Ramp Test, can be used to determine threshold heart rate and power. The point at which the athlete can no longer maintain the requisite power or heart rate is considered their threshold in these tests, which entail a predetermined amount of time at an intensifying intensity.
Training zones: Based on the athlete's training zones, threshold power and heart rate can also be calculated. The threshold is commonly set at roughly 88-92% of maximum heart rate or 85-89% of maximum power output. Training zones are normally based on a percentage of the athlete's maximum heart rate or power output.
VO2 max: The greatest amount of oxygen that an athlete can inhale each minute is measured by VO2 max. It is frequently used to gauge an athlete's aerobic and cardiovascular endurance. A greater VO2 max can help a cyclist perform better since it shows how well the body can supply oxygen to the muscles when they are working out.
How can we calculate VO2 max?
In a laboratory test, the athlete often works out on a stationary cycle or treadmill while wearing a mask or mouthpiece to monitor the volume and concentration of oxygen in their breath. This method is one technique to calculate VO2 max.
Field tests: A number of field tests, including the Cooper Test and the Rockport Walking Test, can be used to calculate VO2 max. The highest oxygen consumption recorded during these tests—which involve exerting an athlete to the point of exhaustion—is considered as the athlete's VO2 max.
Online calculators: There are also various online calculators that can estimate VO2 max based on factors such as age, gender, and exercise performance. However, it's important to note that these estimates can be less accurate compared to a laboratory or field test.
What is interval training?
Intervals are defined as brief bursts of high intensity work followed by slower intervals of work or rest. You can include these intervals in your training rides to increase your power, speed, and endurance. Here are some examples you can incorporate into your cycling:
- cycle easily for 1 minute in between each set of 10 x 1-minute intervals at your threshold heart rate or power.
- 5 minutes of easy cycling between each of the two 20-minute periods at your tempo, power, or heart rate
- 2 minutes of easy riding separated by 4x8-minute intervals at your threshold heart rate or power
- 1 minute of easy cycling follows each set of 6x4-minute intervals at your heart rate or VO2 max.
- Intervals of 3 minutes at your anaerobic threshold or heart rate are spaced out by 30 seconds of easy pedalling.
Cycling performance can be monitored and measured with the help of power meters and heart rate monitors. You can see just how much work you are putting into each ride by using a power meter, which measures the power output of your pedals. Your heart rate is tracked by a heart rate monitor, which you may use to determine your level of intensity and make sure you are training at the proper intensity for your objectives.
What kind of power meters are there?
The ideal selection for you will rely on your unique requirements and financial situation. There are various types of power metres available for cycling. Here are a few popular designs of bicycle power metres:
- Crank-based power meter: A crank-based power meter attaches sensors to the crankset or chainrings to monitor the power output of the pedals. These power meters can cost more than other options while still being relatively accurate and simple to instal.
- Pedal-based power meter: A pedal-based power meter uses sensors that are attached to the pedals to measure the power output of the pedals. These power meters can be useful because they are simple to move between bikes, but they might not be as precise as crank-based power meters.
- Hub-based power meter: A hub-based power meter attaches sensors to the hub of the rear wheel to measure the power output. Compared to crank- or pedal-based power meters, these meters may be less expensive, but they may also be less accurate and more susceptible to interference from outside sources like dirt or water.
- Spider-based power meter: A spider-based power meter attaches sensors to the crankset's spider to measure the crankset's output of power. Compared to hub-based power meters, these meters may be more accurate and simpler to instal, but they could also cost more.
How much time do I need to start training in cycling?
It's critical to be honest with yourself about how much weekly time you have available for riding before beginning any training programme. This will assist you in choosing a strategy that works for your schedule and setting realistic goals. It's also critical to think about your training goals, whether they are for general progress or a particular event.
You may start creating your training plan once you have a clear understanding of your time commitment and goals. This could be a combination of interval training, steady endurance rides, and perhaps strength training or hill repeats. To keep your body guessing and prevent plateauing, it's critical to change up the emphasis and intensity of your rides.
How often do I need to track my performance?
The simple answer is after each ride, after each week and after each month. Always pay attention to your body's needs and provide enough time for rest and recovery in between rides. To support your training efforts, it's crucial to properly nourish your body before and after rides and to stay hydrated.
Example of a training from start to finish that worked for us:
- Set a realistic time frame
- Ride the first 500 to 1000km of the training year without any plan. Just enjoy riding.
- Set up a three to four month plan with an event at the end.
- Start with longer intervals with lower intensity around 75-80% of your threshold power. I warmed up for 30-60 minutes. Did 3x20min intervals with 10 minutes rest in between in zone 1. Zones will be calculated by your cycling computer based on your threshold power.
- Do this for three weeks two days per week. If you are riding every day, try to mimic a marathon ride and do short intervals 5-10x5-10s sprints every other minute.
- The second month start with shorter intervals; 4x8minute intervals. First 4minutes at 75-80% threshold, next three minutes at 90-95% and the last minute at 110-115% and rest for 5-7 minutes.
- For the second month everything applies for the rest of the days you are riding as it did for the first month.
- Third month is scheduled for even shorter intervals. 4x5 minute intervals. 1 minute at 80%, 2 minutes at 95%, 1 minute at 110%, 1 minute all out and rest for 10 minutes in between the intervals.
- If you have any more time before the "race day" try to do imaginary sprints until blow out. For example you are on a climb, your imaginary rider starts sprinting and you need to sprint for 30 seconds until he finally goes slower. This is how I did it. one every full minute I started with 10s sprint and 50s rest, next 15s sprint with 45s rest. and so on until I couldn't do it anymore.
After each three week block use the fourth week for easier rides. We are not saying this training is correct for everyone. But it worked for us.