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Incorporating strength and core exercises during the off-season will make you stronger on the bike

Many question the difference between training regimens in the race season and the off-season. With the onset of winter and colder weather are there many changes to be made?

The answer is yes. You can just do what you were doing in the summer for the off-season, but you also need to take advantage of the down time to work on some bike skills and strength base exercises to make you stronger. This can include muscular strength, on bike efficiency, body composition and more importantly flexibility  and core strength /stability. Your program must also facilitate maintaining Key Performance Factors (KPF)  which would include the aerobic and anaerobic systems and building a foundation of speed and agility. (See below for the KPF components).

At the end of the cycling season (traditionally October) you and your coach will review the ups and downs of the past season. This ‘performance audit’  will review each KPF and also Key Performance Indicators (KPI). From this review we are able to provide new guidelines, do a new plan and set training targets for the upcoming season.

It is important to remember that your training during off-season will affect your performance in mid-season and race season. All the above may sound complicated but it is your coach’s responsibility to work with you and ensure you have the right training program for your needs and goals.

Key Performance Factors:

Aerobic System:

  • Maximal Aerobic Power
  • Endurance Capacity

Anaerobic Lactic System:

  • Power/Capacity

Speed:

  • Acceleration Speed (Speed Strength)
  • Speed Endurance
  • Maximum Speed
  • Change of Speed

Muscular Endurance and Strength

Core Strength and Stability

Flexibility

Body Composition , Nutrition

On Bike Efficiency / Riding Economy and Pacing   /Aerodynamics

By Houshang Amiri ChPc

 

About Pacific Cycling Centre: PCC brings four decades of experience, providing coaching and training services for Elite, Masters, and Junior athletes in road, mountain bike, track, and cyclo-cross. PCC’s goal is to create a training environment for athletes at the development level, and to maintain a permanent, high-performance training group of national team and pre-national team athletes at the Centre, with the appropriate coaching and support systems. This will be achieved through expert one-on-one coaching, focused training camps, and competing in many local, provincial and national races.

If your goal is to achieve excellence and to be the best you could be, it is important to identify the gaps in your training, i.e. there is always a GAP between your potential and performance, and between an okay performance and excellence.

In order to identify the gaps you need a systematic approach which should include recording all of your training details. You should start with your goals (short term and long term) and review last year’s season results and rate each area: what you achieved, underachieved or overachieved.  To do this you need tools, and one of the tools is your YTP (Yearly Training Plan).

Review your YTP compounds to include training, camps and a race calendar plan for each of the phases: macrocycles and microcycles, volume and intensity. Then check what was the target for the Key Performance Factors (KPF) and rate them to pinpoint where the shortcomings were.

Some of the cycling KPF’s;

Aerobic Capacity
Endurance Capability
Aerobic Power
Maximal Aerobic Power
Anaerobic Capacity / Power
Speed
Muscular Endurance
Core Strength / Endurance
Pedalling Efficiency, Aerodynamic
Body Composition
Recovery Regeneration, Nutrition
Flexibility
Physiological Skill

Of course you can analyze those KPF’s if your plan is measurable and based on your goals. Finding and analyzing the gaps is an important part of each new plan. When you are building your new plan, don’t forget to include your strategies for all KPF’s, and make sure your plan is achievable.

Whatever you race at a club or international level, you and your coach must have a clear idea about the details. The next step is teamwork: a partnership between you and your coach with effective communication between the two. Trust between an athlete and coach is an important element for success.

By Houshang Amiri
Photo: Louise Hodgson-Jones

What type of rider are you? Sprinter, climber, stage race or a time trial specialist.

You will do well if you know your strength and weaknesses, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. You need to know the superiority and inferiority of your Key Performance Factors (KPF). When you know those variables you can train with purpose and strategize your race plan.

Your performance depends on the KPF, or in other words, the physiological qualities – sprints, climbs, time trials, endurance capacity, efficiency and the ability to recover and stay healthy. There aren’t many cyclists out there that have more than two of those qualities. For example, if you are a climber you should have good endurance capacity and the capability that permits you to climb well after 150km of racing while maintaining your status in long stage races. If you have those two qualities, you have a great chance to do well or win stage races. On the other hand, if you are a time trial specialist with similar endurance capabilities you will have the chance to do well or win a less hillier stage race (don’t forget team support as winning a stage race is impossible without a good team).  However, as a time trial expert or a climber your main performance will come on a one day TT (time trial) like Nationals, Worlds or a major Games, and if you are a climber you will hope to have a top mountain finish.

In other words every cyclist must have one outstanding quality that will put him or her on the podium. Developing a world class quality will take years e.g. Ryder Hesjedal won his first grand tour (Giro) after doing nine grand tours, or Svein Tuft won a silver medal at the 2008 World Championship ITT (individual time trial) after wining many TT’s.  Winning a one day race is much more detail orientated than winning a stage race.

I once coached a Master cyclist, who told me his strength was sprinting. He used to have a strong sprint finish, often beating other riders. After some testing we started working on his weaknesses (endurance capability and aerobic power) while keeping his strength maintained (sprint qualities). It took about a year of change to get him close to his potential and one year he rode over 90% of his races with the front group, and won over 80% of those races, or ended up on the podium.

By Houshang Amiri

 

Success and performance in cycling is heavily dependent on precise individualized planning. As time is the most valuable factor, our goal is to make the most out of it and make each session count. In order to do so it is vital to:

  1. Identify the “Current Performance.” Where you are in physical and physiological readiness compared to your competition.
  2. Identify the “Performance Target.” The level you need to perform for the upcoming season and beyond.
  3. Identify the “Performance Pathway.” How you are going to achieve the targets.

As Key Performance Factors (KPF’s) are different for each cycling discipline, it is critical to know and identify the KPF’s for your discipline, e.g. if your main aim of your cycling discipline is Individual (KPF’s) as indicated below, this is an important step in order to know your Current Performance and set your new goals and objectives for a Performance Target. After pinpointing these factors it is essential to rank yourself against those KPF’s to recognize and establish the Performance Pathway.

The Main physical KPF’s for an Individual Time Trial (ITT) – 7 is very important, 1 is not as important

  • Maximal Aerobic Power 7
  • Aerobic Capacity 5-6
  • Anaerobic Lactic System Power/Capacity 1
  • Anaerobic Alactic Power/Capacity 1
  • Endurance Capability 4-5

Speed: Acceleration Speed (Speed Strength) 1

Speed Endurance 5

Maximum Speed 1

Change of Speed 1

  • Muscular Endurance 7
  • Muscular strength 3-4
  • Efficiency: Riding Economy and Pacing 7

Aerodynamics 7

  • Body composition 5
  • Flexibility 5

An experienced coach can provide important information like KPF’s to lead and manage the pressure, allowing the athlete to focus on training.

By Houshang Amiri