7 Ways to Improve Endurance on the Bike
1. Frequency Matters1 of 8
The more you ride, the better your endurance will be. Squeezing in that one extra ride per week can make all the difference come race day.
A good way to add one or two additional rides per week is to consider commuting to and from work. If your commute is short, add a little distance to it on the way home. Another good option is to set up an indoor trainer in your living room. Instead of sitting on the couch when you watch TV at night, you can just as easily sit on the bike and pedal.
2. Don't Forget Intervals2 of 8
Most people think of intervals as speed work, but they increase your endurance too. Complete a VO2 max set once a week. Keep your threshold power at 90 percent, or threshold heart rate at 95 percent, for 15 minutes. Complete two sets, either on an indoor trainer or on a climb that will allow you to maintain a sustained effort without stopping. Remember to increase the length of the interval as needed.
3. Eat Often3 of 8
To ride long, whether it's during training or a race, you'll need to stay topped off. Aim for around 60 grams of carbohydrates for every hour of cycling, and at least one 500ml bottle of fluid.
A mix of different types of food is usually best (gels, bars, fruit, etc.), but make sure you experiment and discover the food that your body responds well to. What works for someone else might wreck your digestive system.
4. Pre-Ride Breakfast4 of 8
Eating a good mix of carbs, protein and fat before you head out for a ride is important for your glycogen stores. But just as important, and a component a lot of cyclists miss, is the timing of your meals.
While eating a meal inside of an hour can negatively impact your endurance, eating two or three hours before your ride begins will give your body time to digest the fuel you put in. This will ensure you leave the house with a full tank and won't need to expend unnecessary energy on digestion while you ride.
5. Ride with a Training Partner5 of 8
Your mental strength goes hand-in-hand with your endurance gains. Going long can be taxing, especially if you're riding alone. If you find it hard to stay motivated after an hour or two riding, find a training partner who is slightly better than you and can push you when those last few miles get tough.
And since the efforts are usually at a moderate, conversational pace, having someone to talk to can make the time go by a lot quicker. If you can't find a training partner willing to put in a lot of miles, join a group ride. Just don't forget to take plenty of pulls at the front.
6. Ride Long at Least Once Per Week6 of 8
Once per week, you'll need to go long. Begin with a two-hour ride and increase your mileage by about 10 percent each week. If your goal is a century ride or Gran Fondo, you'll likely want to work your way up to about 4 to 6 hours prior to race day.
Keep in mind that you'll need to complete these rides almost entirely in the aerobic heart rate zone in order to work the cardiovascular system and increase your endurance.
7. Don't Stop Training During the Offseason7 of 8
Building your endurance will take a lot of time. Instead of thinking about it as a seasonal goal, look at the bigger picture. You can make your endurance next year even better than it was this year by continuing to train your cardiovascular system during the offseason.
While it is a good idea to take a little time off the bike at the end of the season, if you stop working out completely you'll lose most of what you've gained and end up starting the next season at square one. Cross training activities like running, cross-country skiing and hiking during those long, cold months can help you build upon the gains you made the previous season.