Not wrote a blog for a while, been so busy what with BC coaching courses and training along with, family life, work, and a multitude of other distractions that interrupt the aim to become the best cyclist you can be.
Now read that again only this time really read it, if you look at what I've just said everyone reading that can see something in there that pinpoints their lifestyle, and the ability to train as much as we would like.
If you can manage 5-6 hours a week training there is no reason you can’t be within 90-95% of your full potential as a cyclist, bold statement aye, but one I stand by, what about the pro's who train 8 hours a day I couldn’t compete with them you say, and no you couldn’t if you were doing a stage race for a week or 3, but how many stage races as an amateur do you do a year?
Specifics are the answer to your training shortfalls what are specifics? Specifics are training your weaknesses on a point that is failing you in achieving a set goal, and for this particular specific we are going to look at hills, hills are one of the biggest weakness points in most cyclist training programmes, the statement "I can't do hills" means you will never reach your full potential, because you have already talked yourself out of it, everyone can do hills, it's doing them quickly that’s the problem.
Find yourself a hill local that takes around 30 min's to cycle to (warm up) the hill can be any gradient you want (I currently train on a 14% grade), but it must be one to your current stage of fitness, it’s no good picking a 14% if you have to stop half way, as long as you can keep moving forward that’s OK, you will get faster as the weeks go by, look to make it a 3 min climb, 4 min max.
Turn your stopwatch,GPS lap timer on whatever you use to time, and any gear that you can turn to get up that hill within 90% of your max heart rate, (power users will be 105%+ bracket here), it's ok if it goes over, you will want to slow down before your heart packs in trust me, as you’re going up the hill try to focus on what hurts more the legs or the breathing, these are the minute specifics I'm looking at and even smaller specifics later of pedalling technique.
Ok you have reached the top and you feel sick, your heads saying I can’t do another one, you need to turn round coast down the hill as slow as you like to recover and do it again, the first one believe it or not is worse than any following ones, the body has been shocked into being beaten up by a hill and is prepared for the next one, if you can only do 2 max, that’s OK, if on the second one you are much much slower that’s OK, but look to not stopping no matter how slow you’re going, (unless so slow you tip over, no choice then pick a smaller hill).
Over a month I would do these Hill repeats twice a week with 3 days recovery between them, then just go back periodically to them every other month or 2 weeks before a chosen race, you won’t lose your ability to climb them over a short period of time, as some people think, panic I've not done hills in 2 months I'll be rubbish at it now, not so your fitness level has moved up many many notches with hill repeats, not that easily lost.
Your aim over the month is to do 5-8 repeats, if you can do 8 there is no point in doing more your as fit as needs be, your competitors may boast on Strava at doing 10, so what, they have left there peak fitness on the hill leave em to it.
Once done go home and recover, as you get fitter you will feel you can twist your frame with power, and feel so good you will want to go for a long ride after these hill repeats, DONT, go home and recover, save the energy for race day or club day if that’s what you’re looking for to snot the club climber.
As I said earlier, looking at the minute specifics, what hurt more lungs, legs, or heart? I won’t cover the other aspects in this blog on how to deal with the minute specifics other than if its legs and to a small degree heart and lungs as well, you will need to incorporate weight training, (here we go weight training versus none weight training for cyclist brigade) weight training should be part of your programme anyway if over 40, I'm not going to go into diminishing testosterone and bone density here, that would take a book on its own, but needless to say any athlete over 40 should be doing weight training at least twice a week all year round, I stand by weight training improves your core, wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, and your cycling, ask yourself why did wiggo's new coach introduce weight training into his programme, if it’s of no significance.
Squats, the best all round weight training for cyclist, lunges, and don’t neglect upper body, it improves your strength for higher loads.
I hope this helps you climb better and helps you achieve your weaknesses on hills, remember the mind packs in before your legs, stay positive, you should fear hill repeats at first, then you will look forward to beating your last time, then you will love them, because you know they are making you fitter than any other intensive training you do, be positive and avoid the negative people who say they hate hills, love hills there doing you a massive fitness favour.
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