BUILDING A MILEAGE BASE
Never do hard intervals without a substantial mileage base. For most cyclists that may be 1,000 miles for others, it may be slightly less. The main idea is to ensure that your muscles, tendons, ligaments and cardiovascular system are in the adequate condition to undertake the stress of interval training.
DEVELOPING SPEED AND SPRINT POWER
Being able to accelerate your bike, sprinting down the trail is an important skill especially for racers. Most riders don’t understand how to train their sprint power though and as a result just don’t get the gains they want. There are two main approaches to developing your maximal power on the bike which will make your sprint harder and faster. The first is gym based strength and power training and the second is on-bike sprint training sessions. There is no point having really strong legs if your back and core are weak as piss as you will just leak power and probably end up with back problems. Make sure that you train your core using your body weight in lots of different directions and using various methods.
The second is to take bike sessions: this is where people make a lot of mistakes with sprint training. The most common thing you see is people sprinting up and down a set distance again and again and without any rest. Only the first sprint of the set is actually training max sprint power. Whilst this may be a productive anaerobic interval training session that may aid you in other areas of your training, it is not going to actually improve the amount of power that you can put down out of the start gate at a race. To improve max power for sprinting you need to sprint at your maximum, not below it. Most people can only sprint at maximal pace for maybe 4-9 seconds and then take about 6 minutes or more to recover enough to do it again with similar intensity.
RAISING LACTATE THRESHOLD
Lactate threshold is the primary area of developmental focus for competitive cyclists. It is the best predictor of race performance for many cycling events. The lactate threshold is also highly trainable, which is one of the reasons training zones are often based on LT. In the simplest terms, lactate threshold is the highest intensity a fit cyclist can maintain for 60 minutes. Any increase in intensity beyond this threshold level requires a reduction in the effort because the body starts to produce lactic acid more quickly than it can remove it. The higher your lactate threshold, as a percentage of aerobic capacity, the faster you will be able to ride a bike. Lactate threshold can be developed in several ways but one of the most effective is through intervals performed at or slightly below your LT heart rate. These intervals will boost your lactate threshold and FTP (functional threshold power), which is the highest average power, measured in watts, you can generate for one hour. Here are some guidelines for performing LT intervals: Find a relatively flat, low traffic road to perform your intervals. Select a gear that allows you to train at 98-105 percent of your LTHR; Your goal is to build up to 3 x 15 minutes with 5 minutes of recovery between hard efforts; Carve out a 12- to a 15-week period where you will perform one lactate threshold interval workout per week. ; Your total workout time will vary between 60 and 90 minutes.
ENHANCING CYCLING STRENGTH
The strength improvement mechanisms that help cycling performance are largely neurological. This means they have to come from teaching your body to better use the muscle it has, rather than from adding lots of new muscle. Endurance training typically relies largely on the recruitment of slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers have great stamina as it is, but researchers have concluded that strength training improves the maximum strength of these fibers, which further increases the time it takes to work them to exhaustion. This allows you to reserve your fast-twitch fibers for later in a race or time trial. No matter how much you develop your hip extensors, quads, hamstrings or calves, you will not be able to utilize their full potential to get forced into the pedals unless you have a strong core. The "core" here consists of all the muscles in and surrounding the lower back and abdomen. Core strength should be worked on almost year-round with any number of specific exercises. Core-strengthening routines might include crunches, back extensions, and work with a fit ball or other appropriate exercises.
STAYING HEALTHY AND INJURY-FREE
Firstly, listen to your body. Most cycling injuries don’t just come out of nowhere and blindside you. Usually, there are warning signs—aches, soreness, and persistent pain. Next, get good shoes. Cyclists’ shoes have changed a lot over the years, and there’s a dizzying variety of models, brands, and types to choose from. Your goal is to find the one that offers the best support and fit for your unique anatomy and biomechanics. Last, take good notes. A detailed workout log can help keep you motivated and injury-free. Take some time after each workout to jot down notes about what you did and how you felt during the hard-core training.