Cycling Training Section
Cycling training varies greatly across the disciplines. From the intense, anaerobically demanding speedway events to the ultra-endurance stage races, each cycling discipline requires a different training approach. Even within the same discipline, variations in distance will have a significant effect on a cyclist fitness regime.
This section of the website is dedicated to cycling training and conditioning in the following major disciplines:
Professional road cyclists posses exceptional endurance. While VO2max is not always a good predictor of performance in elite endurance athletes, studies have shown that aerobic power is high in this group of performers (1,2,3).
More accurate predictors of performance include lactate threshold, maximal lactate steady state and power output at lactate threshold. Lactate threshold has been shown to be as high as 90% of VO2max in professional cyclists (1, 4,5,6).
Peak power output can also be used to predict cycling performance (7,8) across the disciplines. For competitive road cyclists, anaerobic power is required for the mass start, hill climbing and a sprint finish. It may be even more important for off-road cyclists and is obviously a prerequisite for track racing. Traditionally, cycling coaches have prescribed increases in training volume to induce overload and adaptation. Yet it may be that a reduction in volume and integration of interval sprint training may be more beneficial. Not only has this shown to improve peak power output and capacity, it also increases VO2max to a greater extent compared to lower intensity, longer duration training (9,10).
This, along with other training strategies is examined in the articles below. You will find sample training sessions and programs for the various cycling disciplines, all drawing on current scientific research.
Cycling Training Articles
Interval Training for Sport-Specific Endurance
Distance cyclists have traditionally favored long, slow distance training almost to the exclusion of all else. But substituting a small percentage of weekly mileage for more shorter, more intense interval sessions may improve performance...
VO2max - Your Aerobic Potential
Endurance training and VO2 max seem to inextricably linked. While maximal oxygen uptake is certainly not the be all and end all of road cycling performance, understanding what it is and how it can be affected by training can help athletes better prepare themselves for competition...
Lactate Threshold - Tapping Your Aerobic Potential
Perhaps more indicative of success in road cycling , an more trainable, is lactate threshold. Often a confusing subject for some coaches and athletes, from a practical point of view, improving lactate threshold is relatively straightforward...
How to Determine Your Anaerobic Threshold
Here are some non-invasive tests used to determine an athlete's lactate threshold...
Lactate Threshold Training
Training tips to improve anaerobic threshold...
Heart Rate Training for Endurance Events
Heart rate training, despite being erratic, is still popular with cyclists. Here's how heart rate can be best used to monitor the intensity of a cycling training program
Performance at high altitude can be improved through altitude training. But what effect does living and training high have on sea-level performance?
The Sport-Specific Approach to Strength Training Programs
Strength training is suitable for all the cycling disciplines, even ultr distance road cyclists. But a strength training program must match the demands of the event it's designed for...
How To Design Resistance Training Programs For Athletes
Here is the step-by-step process of developing a sport-specific strength training plan - one that meets the demanding nature of cycling...
Power Training for Athletes
It may be obvious that track and speedway cyclists must be powerful to be successful in their events, however, even distance cyclists require explosive power for mass starts, hill climbing and sprint finishes. So what are the best methods for improving explosive power?
Plyometric Training for Sport-Specific Power
Plyometrics is one very effective form of power training. Here are some important guidelines for setting up a plyometric program suitable for cycling...
Muscular Endurance Training
While explosive power is key in the sprint events, muscular endurance is equally as important in distance events. However, for most long-distance psorts such as road cycling, lifting weights for sets of 20 repetitions is not the most effective approach...
Flexibility training is part and parcel of most athletes' conditioning program. Increased flexibility may reduce the risk of certain long-term injuries...
Self Myofascial Release Exercises
Many Exercise Scientists believe that enhancing recovery between training sessions is the key to winning. Myofascial release exercises are said to relieve and release trigger points in the muscle sheath that may compound leading to injury and sub-optimal performance...
The Wingate Test
One of the most reliable tests for anaerobic power and capacity...
Recommended Workouts & Training Programs
If you're going to spend time and energy getting your body into great shape (either for a sport or self-esteem) you deserve to get the very best results for your efforts...
Instead of spending hours upon hours sifting through the junk online, you might want to look at these 12 recommended programs. This is my short-list of outstanding fitness resources that cover everything from fat loss to speed training.
It takes a lot to get on that list. I'm hard to please. I IGNORE hype and use proven sports science to make my judgements.
1) Fernadez-Garcia B, Perez-Landaluce J, Rodriguez-Alonso M, et al. Intensity of exercise during road race pro-cycling competition. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000, 32: 1002-6
2) Padilla S, Mujika J, Cuesta G, et al. Level ground and uphill cycling ability in professional road cycling. Med Sic Sports Exerc. 1999, 31: 1808-13
3) Faria IE. Energy expenditure, aerodynamics and medical problems in cycling: an update. Sports Med. 1992, 14: 43-63
4) Coyle EF, Feltner ME, Kautz SA. Physiological and biomechanical factors associated with elite endurance cycling performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991, 23: 93-107
5) Faria IE, Faria EW, Roberts S, et al. Comparison of physical and physiological characteristics in elite young and mature cyclists. Res Q Exerc Sports Sci. 1989, 60: 388-95
6) Lucia A, Pardo J, Durantez A, et al. Physiological differences between professional and elite road cyclists. Int J Sports Medc. 1998, 19: 342-8
7) Bentley DJ, Wilson GK, Davie AJ, et al. Correlation between peak power output, muscular strength and cycle time trial performance in triathletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1998, 38: 201-7
8) Hawley JA, Noakes TD. Peak power output predicts maximal oxygen uptake and performance in trained cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol. 1992, 65: 79-83
9) Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997, 28: 1327-30
10) Lindsay FH, Hawley JA, Myburgh KH, et al. Improved athletic performance in highly trained cyclists after interval training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996, 28: 1427-34