Getting better at cycling takes time, effort and planning, so how can you become a stronger cyclist asks Nandini Reddy.
Becoming a better cyclist means you need to get better at communicating with your muscles. Cyclists who are able to perfect the link between their brain and their muscles are the strongest ones. Training will increase the voluntary actions of your muscles and make cycling easier for you. There will be greater muscle activation and improved endurance and you will find yourself cycling easily over long distances.
Sustained cycling is an activity that doesn’t come naturally so it’s important that you train your muscles to be activated during this process. You can maintain speed over a longer period of time before fatigue hits your muscles.
Practice Practice Practice
A beginner cyclist will be able to activate about 30-50% of his muscles during the first few weeks of training. The idea is to increase the number of muscles activated in order to improve your endurance. A world-class cyclist will be able to activate anywhere between 80-90% of his muscles. Even if you don’t reach that high number a good range to aim for is 50-70%.
The best way to start activating your muscles is to do quick up-hill rides. The duration should be between 30-45 seconds. This sort of demand on your muscles will require you to utilize maximum power and you will start activating your dormant muscles as well.
As you practice more these hill rides will become easier and then you can move to increasing the duration in order to enhance your endurance. The idea is to develop your muscles to endure the long distance rides.
12 weeks to power cycling
The idea of following a 12 week programme is to ensure that your muscle fibres are activated. The activated muscles should also be strengthened. The intensity of the workout should be balanced with duration to ensure endurance during the long race.
Before you start any ride ensure you are adequately warmed up. The idea is to start intense and slowly reduce the intensity, recover and restart the cycle for a longer duration. This would prepare you to become a more powerful cyclist by the end of the training period.
Week 1 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 4 times
Week 2 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 4 times
Week 3 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 6 times
Week 4 – Active recovery – Flat surface cycling
Week 5 – 1 min sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 6 times
Week 6 – 1 min sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 8 times
Week 7 – 1 min sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 8 times
Week 8 – Active recovery – Flat surface cycling or 1 min hill rides
Week 9 – 3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 3 times
Week 10 – 3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 4 times
Week 11 – 3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 6 times
Week 12 – 3 min comfortable rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 3 times
After the 12th week you can change the intensity and duration to improve your endurance. Have fun riding.