Maintaining your cycle training throughout winter is extremely important for many reasons and making mistakes over the colder months will have a knock-on effect on your season’s performance. Winter training is fundamental to maintaining your fitness levels, keeping up your base mileage and helping to avoid putting on weight during the off season.
It sounds simple…train well over the winter and you will see the benefits in the summer! However, training throughout winter is not always as easy as it sounds with bad light, cold weather, seasonal parties and lack of commitment just a few reasons to stay clear of the bike. However, with the right mindset, motivation and preparation, these problems can be avoided.
So, having established the importance of winter training, how can you fit these miles in and how can you stay motivated?
FTP Testing- what is it?
Firstly, planning your training over winter is a great way to ensure you reach the goals you have set yourself for the coming year. A big part of this training is making sure that you are working in the correct zones. Therefore, now is the best time to complete that FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test you have been putting off so you know exactly where you are at and that you are training at the correct intensities. This 20-minute flat out test will provide you with both accurate heart rate and power training zones.
Secondly, during the winter months it is important to build up a decent base by covering some long-distance miles, whilst still maintaining your speed and strength. However, if the weather is too bad outside, replacing your outdoor session with an indoor session riding in your sweet spot zone is just as beneficial.
The thought of sitting on a Wattbike for hours probably doesn’t sound too exciting. However, the benefit of training on the Wattbike is you can maintain a relatively high endurance intensity (70-80% of your FTP) for around an hour. This will give you the same benefits as a long outride but will be easier to commit to with no interruptions such as traffic lights or angry drivers getting in the way.
Additional advantages of winter Wattbike training is that each indoor session can be tailored to meet your training requirements. You can work on your strength, speed or your endurance whilst always using your specific training zones to maximise results. This way you are ensuring you are training at your correct intensity to avoid over training, with tangible improvements easy to monitor.
It also allows you to keep motivated by having multiple performance metrics to focus on. Within a session you can keep track of your different numbers including; cadence, accurate power and heart rate as well as your pedal technique, monitoring the improvements and changes in these, throughout the class and over time. Training on the Wattbike in a group environment such as at Njinga Cycling, also provides a competitive element (if you want it) with others, keeping you pushing forward and working consistently at your best.
What pedal shape do you make?
Finally, the off season is also a great time to work on your weaknesses and being in a safe controlled environment on a Wattbike will allow you time to improve and concentrate on your pedal technique, without having to worry about external factors such as traffic or potholes.
Hibernating for the winter months can sound more appealing than heading out for a cycle ride in freezing and wet weather conditions but indoor training on the Wattbikes will provide you with the same benefits, ultimately enabling you to start the cycling season in your best form possible.
Here are what some of Njinga Cycling’s regular Wattbike users had to say about the benefits of training through the winter:
“Throughout the winter I trained at the Njinga lab a couple of mornings per week on Wattbikes. The Mountain Goat sessions were brilliant. They helped get me fitter and stronger and I learned how to manage my efforts. This meant that I could ride at a good intensity knowing what was sustainable. Njinga sessions also give an objective perspective on fitness progress. In the winter when weather is challenging, speed on the road is variable (and often disappointing !!). The Njinga lab meant that I knew I was heading in the right direction while waiting for the sun to come out.” David Finn, MARMOTTE 2016 finisher 6.47hrs.
“I started training on the Wattbikes with Njinga through last winter to supplement my training when the weather got bad. I got so much out of it that in the final months of preparation for the Cape Epic I trained almost entirely with Njinga. When you want to make sure the weather doesn't interrupt your training plan, the Njinga Lab makes sure your training and motivation keep going.”
Charles Clarke: CAPE EPIC 2015 finisher
So if this winter weather is affecting your cycling, don’t hibernate! Head to the Njinga Cycling Performance Lab in SW London today to book a class and don’t let winter affect your training!! Your cycling will thank you next season.
Blog by Njinga - Cycling Training and Performance Lab. Use coupon Code TRIBE$$ for a free single trial class. (Just select single class at checkout and insert code to receive your discount).