It’s that time of year when you’ve realized that the season has come around faster than you expected, and them summer events don’t look far away. The new years resolution was to get fit – but maybe you haven’t quite started yet due to bad weather. So we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get fit fast. Avoiding spending hours training & keeping some time for the family is high up a lot of peoples itineraries.
It’s easy to get sucked into the mentality that miles = more. Fitness isn’t all about getting on your bike and riding for hours at a time. Often you can get a very beneficial session done in 45 minutes to an hour – without even leaving the house. Avoid the bitter weather & be out the house in time for the social event or to get the kids to the class.
It’s always important to remember that some time on the bike is better than none. By doing 15 minutes each lunch time – you’re over an hour closer to your goal than doing nothing. And this can sharpen you up for the afternoon!
Work out your goals.
A training plan is impossible to form if you don’t know what your goals are. Whether you’re targeting a sportive, road racing, crit racing, time trialing or hill climbs – all of these will come with a different set of requirements. Start by knowing exactly what you want to achieve & when.
Train steady state.
Steady state rides are often overlooked when you’re trying to get fit as fast as possible. You don’t need to be up and down doing sprints all the time. Often 20 minutes steady state is enough to fire up the metabolism and give you some solid fitness gains – especially if you’re targeting a long distance sportive. If you can squeeze in just under an hour at lunch then this is perfect to begin to build towards your endurance goals. Realistically this is going to have to be on a gym/static bike so you can maximize the efficiency of the ride.
Working at 80% of your Vo2 max for 30 minutes a day can see some massive gains in your overall stamina. Endurance is often associated with spending hours at a time on the bike – but the key is that you train at a level that will begin to boost your aerobic systems. Although this doesn’t mean you can go hard all the time. You’ll fatigue much more rapidly and recover a lot slower.
Go hard then go home.
Don’t waste your time when you’re training – every second counts. Whether you’re doing a specific interval session or a constant steady state effort, you need to make sure that you complete what the session is designed to do. Consistency is key – there’s no point going easy in a few sessions because you feel a bit tired or didn’t eat properly at lunch.
It’s often beneficial to train to heart rate. By keeping your heart rate elevated for a period of time you’ll know that this is having a positive effect on your training. As you get fitter you can begin to increase your intervals or decrease your rest. This will allow you to sustain the numbers you could barely hit at the beginning.
Use interval training.
Interval training is a great way to improve fitness – but the intervals will have to fit into your long term goal. If you’re training for a road race, crit or a hill climb then being able to sustain high power for a short period of time is very beneficial. Although short bursts aren’t as useful for time trialing when it’s most efficient to sustain a single power throughout. So be clear what your intervals are set out to do and stick to them.
Often the downfall of athletes – the diet. Dieting doesn’t mean stopping eating or eating less. But you may have to change the quality of your diet & the foods you eat. This may begin to include much more vegetables & less sugary items.
Riding fast isn’t necessarily about being light – but being lean. If you’re looking to be successful on a hill climb you may need to shift a few grams. But if for road racing & time trailing, it’s possible to be successful at a higher weight – if it’s your natural race weight. Team Sky’s Ian Stannard is one of the most powerful riders in the peloton weighing in at 80kg.
Work on spinning your legs.
Grinding it out in a big gear is a very in-efficient way of riding. Often there is lots of speed to be gained by just learning to ride at your most efficient cadence, without being super fit. Thinking outside the box of gaining fitness to get faster. There can be plenty of marginal gains outside of training. For example a good bike fit to make sure you’re optimizing your glutes. A brief strength & conditioning circuit can also see a lot of benefit.
By using the same intensity but spinning the legs faster you’ll automatically increase your speed. Even if it’s only by 3/4 revolutions per minute. Finding these little techniques can help your riding a lot.
Ride with a group.
If you can find the time to ride with a group this can be massively beneficial. Research has shown there are great fitness gains to be had by training with others. Whether you know you’re doing it or not, you’ll begin to work a lot harder when there are others around you training towards a similar goal. Whether this is outdoors on a weekend ride, a week night chaingang or on a virtual programme such as Zwift.
This is the key to getting faster. You can only train as hard as you recover. If you don’t recover properly it won’t be long before you’re ill/injured. Using a programme such as training peaks can be a great way to manage your training load. This will stop you overdoing it and picking up any set backs.
This often means making sure you’re eating well & not missing meals. Getting some recovery in close to finishing training sessions. Regular stretching & rolling/sports massages can be very beneficial to those who have time. Staying hydrated & replacing your bodies carbohydrate stores as well as completing effective cool downs.
Buy a new bike.
We hate to say it, but the bike can make all the difference. A bad workman blames his tools – but an all singing, all dancing s-works is going to outperform a bottom of the range bike for under £500. There are nice mediums to be struck here though, often mid range bikes can perform exceptionally well and only lose a small margin of time over the top end weapons, especially if you’re fit enough. Head over to Cyclestore now to check a full range of new bikes!
No matter which of the above you choose to help to improve your riding and take you closer to your season goals, if any, we wish you all the best for the 2018 year.