The Goals of Training
The principles of cycling training are fundamentally basic. Your goal is it overload and then allow for adaptation. Rinse and repeat.
So what are you trying to overload?
There are three variables in cycling training:
- Volume – How much
- Intensity – How hard or how easy
- Frequency – How often
In training the goal is to increase (overload) either volume, intensity and/or frequency in order to obtain “overreaching” (explained below) then allowing yourself to recover (adaptation). Repeat that process until you reach your desired goals.
The key to training is finding the correct combination of these three variables.
Great – What is the correct combination?
That really is the art and science behind a training plan. It really depends on the individual and their goals. For instance, someone trying to complete a century ride is likely going to focus on volume, where as, someone preparing for a criterium race is going to focus on intensity.
There are a lot of factors to consider when developing a training plan. Take something as simple as age, imagine a person at 20 and how quick recovery is. Now imagine that same person at 55. Generic training plans are much better than nothing and serve as great bases to work from, but you should take the time to educate yourself on what your body requires and when.
There are 4 classifications when talking about cycling training:
- Undertraining – When you spend too much time resting or recovering and not enough time on the bike, your performance does not improve.
- Acute overload – Positive physiological adaptations and minor improvements in performance, you are getting better albeit slowly.
- Overreaching – Optimal physiological adaptations and performance, your training plan should be designed to overreach.
- Overtraining – Physiological maladaptations and performance decrease, you feel very fatigued and have a lackluster attitude for training.
At the end of last season I spent a lot of my time in the overtrained classification, mostly because I solely focused on intensity and it drained my batteries at a very rapid rate. Again, overreaching is the goal, but it is difficult to know how little is too little and even more so how much is too much.
The essence of cycling training is very simple, but there are so many different ways to achieve the same goal. If you are new to training I suggest a cycling coach, even if it is just for a few months, they can save you a lot of wasted time and energy.
Information for this post gathered from: USA Cycling