High Intensity Training In The Off Season


High Intensity Training In The Off Season; especially in the off season!

In the cold winter months it is normal for many cyclists to complete long endurance rides. However, many of these cyclists have no idea why they are doing such long training rides. The general idea is that in the winter a foundation has to be laid for the rest of the season. The comparison with building a house, where first the foundations have to be laid, is then often made. But is your body actually comparable to building a house?

How to build up intensity of your workouts

It is indeed wise to build up the severeness of the workouts easily after a rest period. But the heaviness is not only determined by the duration of a training, but also by the intensity. A short interval training can be just as stressful for the body as a long endurance training. The question that now remains open is why most people prefer long endurance training and sometimes even claim that interval training during the build-up period is bad. Can you only build up your stamina with long endurance training?

The effect of the intensity of a workout

In short, the answer is no and it also has to do with the goals you have on the bike. Slowly building up means that you have to give your body enough time and rest to recover. This is related to the load of the training and not only to the intensity or only the duration of the training. An enormously long and low intensity workout can also be a too heavy workout for a not yet sufficiently trained body. In addition, cycling does not only consist out of an extremely aerobic endurance and if you want to get better, it is wise to maintain and train the anaerobic system from time to time during the winter months as well.

Keep training higher zones

In fact, if you’ve improved a whole season in the higher zones and watts, for example sprints and short climbs, then it’s very unwise to ignore this for months. Precisely this condition then disappears like snow in the sun. Research even shows that if you continue to combine endurance and HIT (high intensity training) training in the winter months, you will progress more than those who only do endurance rides.

Different HIT workouts

So continue to train in a varied way during the winter months, at least once a week you also do HIT training. Read more about this in the article: Train like a pro: polarized training. This doesn’t always have to be specific Vo2max blocks, but can also be a loop on the MTB with some hard sections or a Zwift race. Be careful, however, that after a period of rest you don’t immediately set the number of hours and intensity too high, but build this up slowly.

Varied training or specific repetition

However, research has shown that high level athletes need to train specifically on a certain aspect if they want to make progress. Simply put, an athlete with a high level will not improve from a too mixed program with many different training stimuli. In this way, everything is trained a little bit and any stimulus is actually too weak to provoke improvements. That’s why it is wise, after a number of varied weeks and depending on your level, to shift the emphasis a bit. 

A proper build up

For riders of a high level we therefore start after a (short) rest period with a number of varied weeks in which the size and intensity is built up slowly. Depending on what we want to improve that winter, a number of weeks will follow with a focus on, for example, maximum strength training without a lot of endurance work. By means of a good planning we try to really take a step in the winter so that all physical requirements coincide exactly like pieces of a puzzle when the season starts.
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