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Consistency: The most important element of a cyclists training plan

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

A client i'm working with recently asked me what is the most important part of their training plan? Without doubt it's consistency, any cyclist looking to improve needs a balanced training programme that ensures forward progression and adequate recovery.

Even a poorly designed generic training programme will produce results if followed consistently and training occurs regularly.

With that in mind how do you improve on the previous seasons performance level? Well the answer does not involve purchasing expensive new equipment, hours of extra training per week or extreme diets.

I want to share with you an interesting study - Rønnestad BR, Askestad A, Hansen J High-intensity interval training maintains performance during the transition period and improves next season performance in well-trained cyclists

European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2014;114:1831-1839

Two groups of well-trained cyclists were prescribed two different post-season training strategies, with the objective of demonstrating the importance of maintaining a high-intensity training load. The 24 week case study started during the post -season break with 8 weeks of either low intensity, or low+HIIT, and then both groups did the same 16 week training. Despite continually training, the low intensity only group actually lost fitness and never recovered these losses over the rest of the programme. However, the low-intensity plus one weekly session of high-intensity intervals group saw significant gains in fitness, which they managed to maintain over the 16 week pre-season training phase. It should be noted that both groups did equal amounts of weekly training hours.

By the end of the study, the low + HIIT group displayed 12.1% better functional threshold power compared to the low only group.

Despite both groups completing a reasonable fair volume of training (7 hours per week) during the first phase of the programme. To maintain your hard earned endurance , a cyclist will have to regularly stimulate their body enough to avoid rapid losses in capacity. Now imagine if you have been training at a low only zone 1 capacity for several week than unexpectedly catch the flu and require 2 weeks complete rest. You are going to be months behind in your preparation and are already writing off your early season before it began. Pro riders bounce back from illness quickly, not only because of their support network but because of their periodised training programme. They can not allow their fitness levels to fall too far because of the length of their season. Though our demands are different it is certainly worth adopting these methods so in the event of family, work, illness, injuries or just life in general, we can have some time off without loosing too much condition. All from 1-2 HIIT sessions per week.has a habit of getting in the way.

So before you invest in that new carbon frameset, electronic groupset or expensive high tech wheels. Get yourself a cycling coach and a training strategy that is manageable and consistent.

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