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  • Writer's pictureVitxCycle

Are you training effectively?

A common theme we see from our subscribers is the desire to give themselves the best possible chance of staying fit & healthy so that they are in great shape to enjoy their cycling. Taking VitxCycle alongside a healthy, balanced diet is a great start and will provide you with the key vitamins, minerals and supplements needed to help maintain a healthy body and support your training routine. But what about your training routine and is it effective for helping reach your training goals?

To answer this question, we’ve teamed up with Simon de Burgh to give us on his thoughts on what effective training looks like to him. As part of our work with Simon, all subscribers will be getting a copy of Simon's strength gym plan in their January box of VitxCycle.

Simon de Burgh riding a bike.

Simon is a Performance & Nutrition Director, 2 X Winner of Gym Based PT, a Level 2 Triathlon Coach and founder of VPCC, specialising in coaching cyclist over 40 to get fitter, climb faster, feel healthier and be the best they can be on and off the bike.

So Simon over to you…….

"Hi there and thanks for having me.

In my years of experience as cycle coach, I often see cyclists training ineffectively for their age, especially those over 40, given these are the majority of my clients.

On club rides, I hear cyclists talk about riding lots of aerobic base miles or that they are doing lots of high intensity sessions on the turbo. Done correctly both are good for training but done to excess and/or in isolation can be detrimental to achieving those desired improvements. I’m also staggered by how many cyclists completely ignoring valuable strength training and recovery days!

When you look at the science, as you get older your muscle strength and quality takes a hit, Vo2 declines, your Lactate threshold (your ability to deal with Lactate) drops and sex hormones decline. Basically, as we age our physiology is fighting against us and slowing us down. I know what you’re thinking. Tell me the good news!

Here’s the good news.

With the right knowledge, we can add in specificity to our training to help reverse it or at least considerably slow things down if we exercise correctly, eat appropriately and manage our recovery effectively.

So, how should cyclists be training if they want to cycle up hills quicker, hold faster average speeds and sit in a bunch pulling stronger numbers?

The first goal is to build a foundation of strength by training both on and off the bike.

That means hill reps on the bike.......

Cyclist doing hill reps

and lifting heavy weights in the gym.....

Cyclist doing weight training

focusing on low repetitions, more sets and doing reactive strength work. If the gym isn’t your thing then you can do body weight bearing exercises, which can be done at home to help improve your strength.

The key to this strength work is that it should be done Year Round!

When you look at the scientific literature it shows that stronger muscles are more efficient muscles which, increases your ability to ride faster for longer periods with less effort and they also have an increased lactate threshold. Who doesn’t want that?

Adding in quality work on the bike such as Vo2 and Threshold sessions will also help fight off the age-related decline that (especially) older cyclists naturally see, as this helps improve the quality and function of the muscles.

The hardest part of training is how and when you plan all of this into your training week without burning out.

Two quality bike sessions each week along with one (or two if they have the time) strength and conditioning sessions is the sweet spot for most of the cyclists I coach, punctuated by one or two (again, if they have the time) easy aerobic recovery rides. I also include a full day off training in the majority of my programmes.

Recovery – why it should be included in your training plan.

VitxCycle cyclist having a rest day

Did you know? Older cyclists (40+) recover to the same level as our younger counterparts? But here's the kicker. It takes us 24 hours longer to do so!

This has huge implications for where we place intensity and recovery in our training routine because recovery is where the training adaption magic happens.

Recovery isn’t just about pulling back and doing nothing it’s about making sure you eat enough protein, manage your sleep, stress levels, add in easier recovery rides and de-load weeks (where you reduce your training load to give your body time to fully benefit from the training you’ve been doing).

Another point that needs to be considered when it comes to the balance of training volume, intensity and recovery is that the older you get, the further out you should start your training for any future event. This is because it takes us longer to recover (see above) as well as build strength, power and fitness.

So to cap off

As cyclists age they need to look at training differently for it to be effective and this will help slow down age-related physiology decline. They need to be more specific with their training plan with focus on strength training both on and off the bike, including gym work, Vo2 and Threshold training and most importantly include and prioritise recovery.

Thanks for reading and please do get in touch if you’d like to talk about your own training plan and goals."

Simon De Burgh 2 X Winner of Gym Based PT Level 2 British Triathlon Coach Performance & Nutrition Director and founder of VPCC


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