Normally, we call the period from November to January, or generally fall to early winter, as the off-season. For professional cyclists, having a vacation during is a good idea, relaxing both physically and mentally only maintaining a level of fitness. However, if you are a great enthusiast of cycling, maybe you will wonder what you can do in off-season period so that you can both get relaxed and better your fitness and cycling.
If you do not want to do physical training, here are some recommendations:
1. Take a vacation of two to four weeks during the off-season period. This enables you to have a break from regular training environment and allow your body refresh from the previous year's hard work and stress and slowly build up for the next year. Try some new things that you have been interested in but putting off for cycling.
2. Review your cycling experience this year, communicate with your cycling partners and identify what you have done well and badly, try to maintain the good thing and learn from the bad. This might help you create opportunities to improve for next season.
Anyway, take a good use of your ‘lazy Time’ -- Give yourself some time off the bike and de-stress your body and soul.
Highlights! If you do want to remain good training state and even improve your cycling:
1.Apply cross-training. Combine training with the days of your vacation, to keep your body active and your mind fresh. It’s not really necessary to only work on what you think are the kernel muscle groups but to create a strong platform which affects every task you perform, because the true core stability muscles are those small muscles that consist of your structure from your spine, even to the insignificant eyes.
The gym is a good place to go, giving you more choices and fitness facilities. Such as, you can squat on a ball to work on both your lower back and legs, one-legged leg presses, planks, and dumbbell presses on a ball. Those are all acquired exercises to develop a destabilized platform on which your body must control and enhance its core strength and stability and your muscle imbalances can be solved.
Yet, what you can actually do in winter depends much on your particular location and weather condition. If you are located in the southern area and experiencing a very cold weather where sometimes snows, aerobic sports like skiing, hiking, skating, running is nice methods for cross training. Of course, it is still vital for you to maintain 3 to 4 bike rides a week(do it indoor if the weather is bad) so that you won’t lose your body’s specific cycling muscle memory.
If you are in the subtropical region or just enjoying a comparatively warm winter, there is no excuse for you but go back on your bike, building up your endurance and creating the solid foundation that keeps your body healthy and maintains the form throughout the season. One of the outstanding benefits of the aerobic training is the addition in your muscles’ capillarization—creating more pathways for oxygen to transfer to your muscles, boosting your metabolism, keeping you fit, and boosting your endurance.
2. Combine more strength and conditioning work to better your fitness and deal with the issues of your body structure and biomechanics. If you have any uncomfortable or injury signs when you were cycling, off-season is the best time for you to visit a physical therapist and take a functional movement assessment. By which you will find out what cause your structural deficiencies and imbalances and plan a specific strength and conditioning program. Correcting your body issues can help you enhance the muscular recruitment and strength.
Also, you can take yoga into your consideration. So as hiking, swimming and other activities that are not too stressful for your body but still beneficial to the restructuring process.
How to Plan Your Off-season Training?
Take this weekly timetable of an athlete as an example, see how he might spend a week during an off-season break.
Monday: 1.5 hours core stability exercises and one to two hours cycling (low intensities, high cadences)
Tuesday: One-hour cross-training activities
Wednesday: One-hour core stability exercises
Thursday: One to two-hour cross training activities
Friday: Day off
Saturday: 1.5hrs core stability exercises and one to two hours of cycling (free riding)
Sunday: Two hours cross-training activities
However, there is no one size fits all. You need to adjust your off-season training plan depending on your own condition. Remember whatever you do in winter will finally return you back in spring. If you can not persist in exercising, you probably just spend all your rest time to have fun and have a comparatively laid-back winter. By contrast, if you can keep your enthusiasm and love for cycling, you have a great chance to carry the training plan throughout the winter and achieve a higher level. And physical therapy like massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, physiotherapy or any other kind of body work promotes your body restoration and recovery is welcomed.
There are many crucial factors you should take into your off-season plan, for instance, sleeping. When you are sleeping, your body undertakes the majority of repair work, including releasing the hormone that can elicit muscle growth. To find out how much sleep you need to wake with a good state, you can give yourself some days off that sleep without alarm in a dark room and see when your body is ready to wake. Usually, the standard recommendation is 7 to 9 hours, but there is famous athletes like Roger Federer sleep about 12 hours a night.
It’s vitally important to set a training plan suit you best. Hope that you can find the perfect balance for your own between being overly ambitious and getting really lazy.