Strong can mean different things to different cyclists. It might just mean good. It might mean mentally tough or it might literally mean having massive quads and carve so chiseled look like you've been hewn from Granite. Now, there are no shortcuts to getting ripped on the fraid. But here are three things that will make you stronger.
Sweet Spot Training
Sweet-spot efforts. Now those of you regular to GCM will no doubt I've heard this term before we have all advocated it at some time or another and we can reason because we all did it and what is it. Well sweet spot refers to a level of intensity one that you can sustain for about an hour and a half if really pushed or to put it in terms of power. It's about 85 to 90% of your lactate threshold and there's a percentage of your max heart rate. It's about 80%. So how do you do sweet spot training? There's a couple of different ways you can do efforts of about 20 to 40 minutes long as part of longer ride or mile get fit quick technique which is an solid blocks of an hour and a half dodging tarmac solid blocks of an hour and a half as an added bonus for those of us using power meters. We try and beat or average power by not much just a couple or watts. Every time it can be a really effective tool for actually making sure your progress but if you don't have a power meter, then you don't need to worry. It can still be super effective. You just need to pair a couple of things in mind. So firstly, you want to avoid any spikes in effort so no sprinting up short climbs and you want a predominately flat route. No traffic is what we're looking for. It's sustained effort and not loads of jumping around mashing it when you feel like it.
Now we are working on our never miss a turn ability. What about literal strength being able to roll a big gear up short steep climbs and away from stop signs. No bit depends on your natural attributes. Of course, those where the amazing insurance may not be blessed with the fast witch fibers of a pure sprinter. But no matter who you are, improvements can still be made. You can almost always make more of what you've got and that is by neuromuscular training. So helping to develop nerve pathways that ultimately will help you recruit more muscle fibers. It's why you might find that if you were for some reason starting a push-up raising that you make big gains for the first few weeks. But then reach a plateau and that's because you've developed you a muscular pathways to make more of what you've got and then you just have to work a lot longer to actually start making more muscle fibers. The more of that is that even if you ride your bike all the time, you may still not recruiting all of your muscle fibers and so you need to train them and a great way of doing that is standing start efforts. So you roll to stop in a really big gear like your big ring and long way down the cassette and then simply sprint up to speed as hard as you can. Then just recover well and repeat ten times then that's it that is your session done. You can just roll home because it's such a short session. You can actually do it on the way home from work or even as an early morning or an evening right to supplement another ride that day although be careful it is really demanding. So you may end up feeling like total rubbish when you go out again.
To certain extent cycling strength depends on our mental fortitude. It's what allows some riders to shrug off wind and rain and win six our epic bike races whilst others cower in their team cars. It's what allows some riders to push on for hours even days on end to cover incredible distances. So how do they do it? But to a certain extent, it depend on you as an individual compartmentalizing pain can be really effective. So simply trying to remove yourself from it and block it out that can be surprisingly effective. Certainly, you'll be familiar with how focusing on pain to make it all seem so much worse framing your pain or your discomfort in a positive way and also be really powerful. So with a positive frame of mind, you'll find that you can sustain speeds that have been possible if you're feeling negative. It's why you probably find that dropping riders at the climb will help you go faster but if you yourself were hanging on and then got dropped. Now this does take practice, so how do you do it? Certainly, focusing on goals can be really effective as it is focusing on a positive outcome and then there's this which is kind of weird but you may find that when going really hard. Actually gaining control of your breathing will help put you in a better frame of line.
To become a strong rider, then you need to develop your aerobic engine; you need to improve your peak power whether you consider yourself a skinny climber or not. But then you just need to convince yourself that you are strong that is actually probably the most tool that we have.