For most of us, just a few tweaks to our training translate into significant improvement in our riding and racing. When you adjust the right elements during a training week, it’ll pay off. While typical advice to get faster is to ride more and ride harder, there is rarely advice on how you get stronger when you can’t add more time.
These four small changes to your normal training routine will boost your overall cycling skills, fitness and knowledge.
1. DON’T GO ALONE
Joining a weekly group ride is one of the best ways to push your limits and diversify your cycling. Group rides aren’t as steady as solo rides, which can be a good thing. Going hard, holding wheels, pedaling at higher cadences and learning to draft and conserve energy are all tremendous boosts to your cycling ability. The trick is not to overdo the group rides — once a week is plenty.
2. CLIMB THE BIGGEST HILL YOU CAN FIND
Too often riders will avoid the big hill. It’s worth seeking out that scary hill and taking it on once a week in an interval session — or at least adding one hard climb to your normal loop. By exposing yourself to the mental and physical challenge of attacking a hard climb weekly, you will be much less intimidated and way more capable when hills factor into rides and races.
3. TAKE STOCK OF YOUR TRAINING AND PLAN AHEAD
Set your intention for the week ahead and ideally for each ride. You could do this on Monday morning or a Sunday after a long ride. Reflect on the week and what you did well as well as what you can improve. Check your work and family schedules and see where each ride will fit, then slot it into your calendar. Also, make a goal to check off each week. It might be more wattage, one more hill climb, longer duration, better fueling or hopping a bigger log.
4. DO SPRINTS
Sprints and short maximal efforts are playing a bigger role in the weekly workouts I use. No matter your goal, you will be required to go hard in a ride, to finish a long day when you’re exhausted or to make the big breakaway. Practicing these key moments by interval training helps underperforming athletes get closer to the results they want and boosts fitness for athletes who have spent too much time on steady endurance training. Road-sign sprints, 5–20-second hard hill repeats, 20–60-second anaerobic repeats, kilometer repeats and mountain bike start practice can all be sprinkled in through your week to simulate the situations you’ll need to be ready for in your rides. Take 5 minutes or longer for a recovery between sprints— just as you would in the weight room — to ensure you are getting the full benefit of max efforts.
You can get faster with these few small changes to your weekly training routine. With some planning, most riders have time to include some sprints into a warmup, join a group ride and ride hard up a big hill once a week. Check your training from the past few months and see where you can tweak your routine to find more speed.