It’s that time of year when training ramps up because the summer events are just around the corner. We’ve put together a list of things you can buy to really help your training and point you in the right direction and get you that extra fitness. The best way to improve your performance is to get fitter, shock… but this can come without having to slog yourself through all kinds of awful sessions and pain.
We’re not talking about free on time speed like buying a new bike, or new set of wheels. The tools listed below will allow you train properly & earn that extra speed. They’re a one time gain that won’t improve – but these options are gifts that keep on giving – and they’ll be cheaper than the £6,000 bike!
There are a variety of changes to be made to improve training and fitness – some small some big. Some of them will just mix up your training to get you over a plateau and others will really up your training game.
Enter a harder challenge to Motivate Training.
Entering a big event is a great way to kick start your training – get the guilt trip in early and get an entry. This will make you immediately realise you probably have to shake things up with your training to get around.
Fear is one of the best motivators – if you’re scared you won’t make it round the event you’re more likely to kick start the training routine. The satisfaction of finishing is elevated if you’re not sure whether you’ll complete the challenge to begin with. Maybe you could complete the challenge for charity so there’s a third party involved making you even less likely to let them down!
You have to enjoy training enough to push on and up that fitness – if you’re not enjoying the process then it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing the bare minimum to make it around the challenge. When you start enjoying the process there’ll be no limit to what you can achieve!
Cost: From £9.
Invest in a power meter.
There’s no limit to the benefit of power meters. Ever since power was introduced nearly 30 years ago by SRM they’ve completely shaped and changed the cycling world. As they become more accessible to the regular cyclist, a varied set of training software platforms can analyze and advise your data to give you a very high level insight to your body. To be blunt, a power meter is the single most effective training tool in cycling.
Power meters take away any guessing that you might have. Bad weather, slow gear, drafting, hills or any other excuses you may have, there’s no hiding from the power meter. They can tell you exactly how much effort you’re putting out and how well your riding. Mix this with just how tired it’s making you and over time you can transform your athletic ability. With this data you can tell just how fatigued you are and exactly when you should probably hang up your boots!
Power meters aren’t the cheapest of items, and they often slip outside of the monthly budget for your cycling hobbies. But if you can get one, it’ll be a gift that just keeps on giving to your fitness. The value it’ll hold won’t necessarily be monetary, but it’ll help you improve your riding to no end.
Cost: From £400
Join a Gym.
Adding gym work to your routine can make a huge benefit. Strength & conditioning exercises can help you to activate the correct muscles and give you an extra level of speed & power.
You don’t have to lift big weights, resistance work can strengthen all the relevant areas. This can include bones, tendons & ligaments. The small areas that you often pick up niggles & injuries can be worked on to keep you fresher for longer.
A good physio or strength coach can point you in the right direction of a good programme, alongside youtube videos to ensure you’re working with the right form. Once or twice a week is enough to iron out any muscluar weaknesses!
Cost: From £15 a month.
Go premium on the Cycle Apps.
Apps like Strava, Garmin and TrainingPeaks are so widely available and easy to use – and in many cases the cost of premium is less than you’d spend on a new inner tube! The data these apps can provide is phenomenal.
A detailed analysis app like training peaks will set you back more than strava – but used properly these tools can transform your training. To access analysis of heart rate and data in strava you’ll have to upgrade to the premium, but this is a small price to pay for the data analysis.
You can hire an analyst to really get to the bottom of your numbers and iron out any weaknesses. Understanding what the numbers mean and how to efficiently improve will allow you to progress up to the next level of fitness. This can also track your load to ensure that you’re not over training making you less likely to get ill or injured.
Cost: £5-20 a month.
Upgrade your turbo to a smart trainer.
Noisy days annoying the neighbors are a thing of the past with new smart trainers. They’re quiet, easy to set up and offer an amazing ride-like feel – from the comfort of your front room.
Using software like trainerroad, zwift or the sufferfest series can mix together with a smart trainer to give you a well rounded training programme covering all bases.The smart trainer will interact with the software and give you the complete, on road feel. It will adjust the resistance to match the gradient you’re riding on, allowing you to really feel the terrain you’re riding on.
If you’re in a pack the resistance will change depending on where you sit. So if you decide to take the reins and sit on the front, your legs will tell you about it! Downhills will decrease the resistance as you’d expect. The benefit of this if that you’re not going to be stuck in one ring wearing down your chain & cassette. You can get all the pro’s of road riding, in the warm of your home.
The smart trainer can offer you a whole range of data that will save the need for extra sensors. Power, cadence & elevation can all be measured through the smart trainer.
Cost: From £270.
Hire a Coach.
Hiring a coach takes a lot of the stress out of planning sessions, managing load and working out what you need to do to get faster. You don’t need to be a top athlete to get a coach, but they can help you get to where you want to be. They’ll be able to write you an effective training programme to fit in around “real life”.
This will help you stop over training and eliminate any time wasted whilst training. Every session will have a specific goal, you can just turn up, get it done and head home! A coach can effectively advise on nutrition, recovery and how to get the most out of yourself!
Cost: From £50 a month.
Go on a Training Camp.
Boost your spring training and kick start your fitness into gear by heading off on a camp. Ideally this would be somewhere warmer than Britain, although if the weather is nice to you you don’t have to head abroad. Somewhere you can get away to focus on your training for a week or a long weekend can have huge benefit!
A training camp can break up your weekly routine and you can really pile on the mileage – achieving things that you wouldn’t normally manage through a busy daily life. You can also find a suitable group to help with the training.
You can up your training from less than 10 hours per week to 20. It’s very hard to manage this load solo but surrounded by like minded athletes and coaches it makes the step much easier. So take the plunge, book that trip and grab the extra fitness gains!
Cost: From £400.