Cycling Training: Injury Prevention



One of the most commonly asked questions we get at Hart's Cyclery is "How can I improve my bicycle fitness training?" The key to bicycle fitness training is to start with overall fitness. Let's first take a look at the two primary keys to cycling training strength training and speed training.

Cycling Strength
To build strength and stamina you will need to add time and mileage to your training routine, as well as work in some weight training. Add more miles to your training rides, or if you work on time spent in the saddle; try to step up your training by half an hour at a time. Spending many hours in the saddle is the kind of strength training that will get you stronger and more used to the hours you'll need to put in to get fit.

Cycling Speed
Speed training should be approached by taking your training to the next level. You can add speed to your routine by working with a group and by adding speed intervals to your set distances both outdoors and indoors. In order to improve your cycling speed, you can take turns in your group at the front, keeping your average speed higher than if you were increasing your cycling speed on your own. It's also a great way of learning race tactics at the same time.

Interval training is how you improve your cycling speed when training on your own; you can try this by using a course with set distances. Try riding as hard as you can between predetermined points as fast as you can.

Using Technology in Your Training
Training and science can help you train smarter as well as harder. Computers and Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs) give you instant read outs on your time, distance, speed and resulting heart rate. One of the most popular brands of HRMs is the Polar brand, which we carry at Hart's. Polar offers several different models that can also provide data on altitude, steepness of the climb, temperature and pedal revolutions. Power cranks let you replace the existing cranks on your bike in order to give you the actual power output of your ride, and reports in detail down to the difference between your right and left leg. Collecting and achieve this kind of information can help you develop a personal fitness training program based on your own physical condition and capabilities.

Cycle training should be enjoyable and motivational - giving you the challenge to improve your strength, speed and overall fitness. Creating a proper training plan should help you stay enthusiastic, working hard to achieve results without burnout or injury.

How to Know When You've Over Trained
Over training is the result of your body's inability to cope with the total amount of stress you have placed it under. If you are asking too much of your body, you may see one or more of these symptoms: decreased performance, mood changes, weight loss, decreased appetite, muscle soreness, reduced motivation and fatigue.

Many riders use the term "over training" for both overreaching and over training, but over training takes place over a long stretch of time (6-8 weeks). If you have reached an over training situation, it can take several months before your performance is back at 100%. If you have overreached in a period, a week or two is normally enough to get you back on track.

Indoor Bicycle Training
Stationary bicycle training can help cyclists improve their performance and allow them to train during bad weather, while traveling or during off season training. With the right trainer gear and converters, cyclists can use their own bikes for indoor training.

Training rides on a stationary bicycle should be long and intense enough to test endurance and skill and should include recuperation rides. In order to improve your cycling, you should incorporate various riding styles into your training program. These include off-the-saddle hill climbing (high resistance, low rpm, standing on pedals); sprints (low resistance, intense pedaling); and cruising (moderate resistance, slower rpm).

Stationary bicycle training allows people to get in a suitable cycling workout in 60 minutes without having to find a road or trail to ride on. It also allows the cyclist to focus on the target of the workout, the heart rate and cadence without having to worry about road hazards. Riding stationary bikes for 20 minutes at 55 percent of maximum heart rate also help massage the lactic acid out of muscles and reduce soreness after a day of riding.

The drawback to stationary bicycle training is monotony and boredom. This can be alleviated by having a structured program that requires the rider to focus on different aspects of the workout throughout the ride. Adding monitors, music, television, fans or a buddy to ride with also can help prevent or reduce boredom and monotony.

An indoor trainer is the perfect venue for trying new techniques or equipment and to measure performance. Also, it is very useful for specific workouts that might otherwise be risky if performed on an open road for the first time. Examples of some very specific drills are: one leg spinning drills, maximum effort sprint repeats, low RPM high watt hill climbs, and anaerobic threshold (AT) intervals lasting 15 minutes or more. To perform each of these examples safely outdoors requires good bike handling skills and an awareness of one's surroundings.

By using an indoor cycle trainer to become familiar with these drills and techniques you can gain confidence and translate them to the road at a later date.

Depending on what your goal is during your training session, you could: build endurance, increase cruising speed, increase your AT, raise your time-trial speed, get together with friends and maintain overall fitness.

Identify goals and ask yourself what areas need improvement. Talk to experienced athletes who you respect and are willing to share their experiences. Come by our shop and talk to us about your indoor fitness training or find a reputable cycling coach and discuss your goals.

Here are a few tips to help your indoor or winter training program:

  • Play your favorite upbeat music loudly! Use a CD player with a "repeat" function.
  • Invite a friend to join the party, bring a towel, water bottle and favorite music.
  • Buy a wall-mounted oscillating fan or use a box fan tilted up.
  • Get a cheap TV/VCR combo to play old movies.
  • For easy cleanup use a 100% cotton area rug under the trainer. Afterwards, throw it in the washer.
  • Use a 5" or taller block of wood under the front wheel to simulate hills.
  • Keep a spray bottle within reach to spray on your face and chest.
  • Race with the lights dimmed.
  • Change your routine and follow a plan to help you reach your goals. Once a month or every two weeks, test yourself and chart progress on a pre-set course.

Bicycling Workouts

Form Sprints
Use a preset flat CompuTrainer race course or set the resistance on your trainer to a medium setting (about 200 watts). Write a script for racers to follow and place it where everyone can see it. I write these on a large piece of cardboard. Repeat twice:
Time/minutes (16 min. Form Sprints + 10 min. warm-up / cool down)

Warm up (any gear)
2 Small ring and 19T (fast spin @ 100 + RPM)
1 Big ring all out seated sprint
4 Small ring and 15T recovery (<60 RPM)
3 Big ring and 15T standing sprint, keep light contact with saddle
4 Small ring and 15T recovery (<60 RPM)
1 Small ring and 15T pedal with one leg
1 Small ring and 15T switch legs
5 Small ring cool down

Strength Training and Maintenance

Use a custom CompuTrainer race course with a constant 6% grade or set the resistance on your trainer to a medium setting (about 200 watts).
Time/minutes (48 min. Strength Maintenance + 20 min. warm-up / cool down)

10 Small ring and 21T, 20T, or 19T (fast spin about 90 RPM )
10 Big ring and 15T (seated, slow spin about 30 RPM)
4 Small ring and 21T, 20T, or19T
5 Big ring and 13T or 12T (standing with butt brushing saddle, shoulders low to the bars and
medium spin about 40-50 RPM)
4 Small ring and 21T, 20T, or 19T
5 (seated) Big ring and 15T (slow spin about 30 RPM)
10 Small ring and 21T, 20T, or 19T (spin about 50 RPM )

Putting It All Together
As you can see, you can improve your bicycle fitness training through strength training, speed training, indoor bicycle training, and cross discipline training. As with any training, consult with your physician and talk to cycling coaches and experts in order to learn about the dangers of over training and how to benefit from training diaries and planned programs. Ultimate fitness is just one benefit from the many joys that cycling can bring.

Plan your Training - MapMyRide