At this time of the year, most of us are looking forward to the next racing season. But the groundwork necessary to achieve improved results next year needs to begin now, and, unfortunately, this is when it is most difficult.
Daylight hours are at their shortest, and for most of us, the weather is anything but warm and sunny. With these two hindrances posing a threat to training consistency, you know it's time to clean off that indoor trainer and climb aboard.
The good news about training indoors is that you can maximize your training benefits while minimizing the amount of time required. In fact, the benefits of indoor training are so profound that some top cyclists who have limited training time use them in their training programs year round.
You need to make indoor training fun and productive. Steady pedaling in front of the television watching movie reruns or MTV is fine for the first few workouts, but it's a sure guarantee your mind will eventually mutiny, and your body will surely follow.
It doesn't have to be that way. The truth is, indoor cycling can be twice as effective and almost as exciting as anything you can do on the road. That's because when you're indoors you can measure and monitor incremental changes in resistance which many times is impossible outdoors.
As a result, with a little planning and analysis, you can turn every workout into a quality one.
Here are several workouts you can add to your program to add variety, and improve your fitness and power. Remember to warm up and cool down before and after each of these workouts:
The 10- to Two-Minute Descending Ladder
Start with a 10-minute hard effort followed by two minutes of easy spinning for recovery.
Your second interval will consist of eight minutes hard effort and another two minutes of easy spinning.
Each hard set decreases in time by two minutes while increasing slightly in intensity. The easy set remains the same. The workout ends when you reach two minutes of hard effort. Cool down and call it quits for the day.
Pyramids are a variation of the above workout. Usually pyramid workouts consist of gradually increasing periods of hard effort, then gradually decreasing these periods of hard effort.
For example, after a normal warm-up, you could go one minute hard, one minute easy, two minutes hard, two minutes easy, three hard, three easy, four hard, four easy; then descend to three and three, two and two, and one and one.
Or you may choose to keep the time element constant and gradually increase the load. For example, pick a steady cadence and go to a smaller rear cog every two minutes until you reach your highest gear, at which point you lower your gear by one cog every two minutes. (Beginners may wish to use one-minute intervals instead of two minutes.)
Surge and Purge
Do this set three times through: Five minutes in a hard gear in your normal riding position on the flats, then three minutes in your seated climbing position in an easier gear, but at a high cadence so that your speed stays nearly the same.
Try to use the high cadence session to allow the lactic acid to slowly dissipate from your muscles. Then go back to your standard riding position and the hard gear for three minutes. Spin easy for three minutes to recover before the next set.