Off-Season Training

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  • Are Squats Sure to Improve My Riding?

    I'm doing squats this winter but am unsure if added strength will help my cycling next season. I read the weight training chapter in your Off-Season Training for Roadies eBook, but should I continue working so hard in the weight room? 

  • Building Power on the Trainer and on the Road

    Sunday it was 62F (17C) in Boulder, Colorado, and I went for a great endurance ride up to Jamestown, a cluster of 250 homes at 6,926 feet (2,105 m) elevation. Although the weather was warm there was still ice in James Creek. And, sure enough, Monday's weather was windy, wet and very cold (back down to freezing). Good trainer weather, in other words. This "shoulder season," as winter becomes spring, is perfect for trainer workouts on those days when the weather still won't let you ride outside.

  • Building Power on the Trainer and on the Road

    By Coach John Hughes  Sunday it was 62F (17C) in Boulder, Colorado, and I went for a great endurance ride up to Jamestown, a cluster of 250 homes at 6,926 feet (2,105 m) elevation. Although the weather was warm there was still ice in James Creek. And, sure enough, Monday's weather was windy, wet and very cold (back down to freezing). Good trainer weather, in other words. This "shoulder season," as winter becomes spring, is perfect for trainer workouts on those days when the weather still won't let you ride outside.

  • Cross-Train for Fun and Fitness this Winter

    I prefer to cross-train through the winter, still riding occasionally but not exclusively. I turn my sights to something else I enjoy. If riding this winter is for any reason more of a chore than a pleasure (nasty conditions, desire for more family time, need for a mental or physical break, HATE the trainer), then try one or more of these activities: mountain biking, walking, dancing, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc. You might find that the biggest benefits are the added family time and the fresh excitement for riding in the spring.

  • Cross-Train for Fun and Fitness this Winter

    XC ski season started for me several weeks ago. I prefer to cross-train through the winter, still riding occasionally but not exclusively, and I really enjoy XC skiing. No matter which of the numerous non-cycling activities you like to do to round out your off-season workout regimen, cross-training in the winter delivers myriad benefits to your cycling and overall health. Even if you live in a climate that allows you to ride year-round, taking a break from full-time riding and working some other activities into your routine is still a good idea. Here's why:

  • Cross-Train for Fun and Fitness this Winter

    By Coach John Hughes  XC ski season started for me several weeks ago. I prefer to cross-train through the winter, still riding occasionally but not exclusively, and I really enjoy XC skiing. No matter which of the numerous non-cycling activities you like to do to round out your off-season workout regimen, cross-training in the winter delivers myriad benefits to your cycling and overall health. Even if you live in a climate that allows you to ride year-round, taking a break from full-time riding and working some other activities into your routine is still a good idea. Here's why:

  • Fit for Life III: Improving Your Athletic Maturity

    Mature is a much better word than old, senior, etc., don’t you think? Although my chronological age is 67, I’m on Medicare and I’m eligible for Social Security, I think of myself as having acquired 43 years of athletic maturity since I started riding in 1975. I’m not old! I'm athletically mature! In my second column in this series I suggested that you take the Athletic Maturity quiz. You can use your results to answer this week’s Question of the Week and compare yourself to other roadies. And read on to see how five RBR contributors scored on the quiz.

  • Fit for Life III: Improving Your Athletic Maturity

    By Coach John Hughes  Mature is a much better word than old, senior, etc., don’t you think? Although my chronological age is 67, I’m on Medicare and I’m eligible for Social Security, I think of myself as having acquired 43 years of athletic maturity since I started riding in 1975. I’m not old! I'm athletically mature! In my second column in this series I suggested that you take the Athletic Maturity quiz. You can use your results to answer this week’s Question of the Week and compare yourself to other roadies. And read on to see how five RBR contributors scored on the quiz.

  • Getting 'Fat' in the Winter

    By Sheri Rosenbaum  I’m a roadie, but riding the roads of suburban Chicago during the winter can be challenging. In addition to the danger, snow, ice and salt can wreak havoc on a bike. And riding the trainer is always low on my list compared to heading outdoors. So, last year my boyfriend and I decided to test ride fat tire bikes. We rented them from a local bike shop and went across the street to a forest preserve. As we headed out the door, the sales guy yelled “when in doubt, run it over!”

  • How Can I Gauge My Improvement on a Trainer?

    I'll be riding my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine indoor trainer for several months this winter and I wondered how I can tell if I'm improving over the course of the workouts?

  • How Does Strength-to-Power Conversion Work?

    You told this to a reader who wants more power: "Fixing this problem starts with a winter weight program. Then in the spring, you convert the new strength into cycling-specific power with short, hard intervals on hills. Begin these by using a big gear at a low cadence, then progress to smaller gears and a cadence over 100 rpm." Why does this work?

  • How Much Should You Train?

    How much should you train? The answer: Probably not as much as you think. My friend and fellow cycling coach Neal Henderson says that 65% of the athletes he sees train too much, 25% train too little and 10% get it right – the pros who are paid to perform. Henderson is the head of Apex Coaching and was named the 2009 USA Cycling Coach of the Year. He coaches clients ranging from novices to World and Olympic champions. And he says only 10% of his clients train the proper amount!

  • How Much Should You Train?

    By Coach John Hughes  How much should you train? The answer: Probably not as much as you think. My friend and fellow cycling coach Neal Henderson says that 65% of the athletes he sees train too much, 25% train too little and 10% get it right – the pros who are paid to perform. Henderson is the head of Apex Coaching and was named the 2009 USA Cycling Coach of the Year. He coaches clients ranging from novices to World and Olympic champions. And he says only 10% of his clients train the proper amount!

  • How Should I Return to Training After a Cold

    l'm training for a century this spring so I trained all winter, following the schedule in your Off-Season Training for Roadies. Things were going great until I got a bad cold and was off the bike for two weeks. Now I feel like I've lost all my fitness. Should I start over from the beginning?

  • How to Maintain Fitness, Gain Freshness and Enjoy the Holidays

    Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, choose recovery. Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. The holidays are a precious time to spend with family and friends. I give all of my clients at least a week off from training around Christmas and New Year’s. Enjoy your time off, too!

  • How to Maintain Fitness, Gain Freshness and Enjoy the Holidays

    Brent Bookwalter, who races for BMC, advises that if you have a choice between an extra 20 minutes of riding or spending that time recovering, choose recovery. Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. The holidays are a precious time to spend with family and friends. I give all of my clients at least a week off from training around Christmas and New Year’s. Enjoy your time off, too!

  • How to Make the Most of Your Trainer Time

    Here's a cycling truism for the season: Riding on the road is fun. Riding on the trainer is not fun (unless you’re a masochist!). If you're a typical roadie, though, you’re always looking for ways to improve: better equipment, smarter training, losing weight, etc. So, figuring out a way to add your trainer time to this list of ways to improve makes perfect sense. Your trainer is a useful tool you can use to tune up your cycling – without driving yourself batty in the process.

  • How to Make the Most of Your Trainer Time

    Here's a cycling truism for the season: Riding on the road is fun. Riding on the trainer is not fun (unless you’re a masochist!). If you're a typical roadie, though, you’re always looking for ways to improve: better equipment, smarter training, losing weight, etc. So, figuring out a way to add your trainer time to this list of ways to improve makes perfect sense. Your trainer is a useful tool you can use to tune up your cycling – without driving yourself batty in the process.

  • How to Make the Most of Your Trainer Time

    By Coach John Hughes  Here's a cycling truism for the season: Riding on the road is fun. Riding on the trainer is not fun (unless you’re a masochist!). If you're a typical roadie, though, you’re always looking for ways to improve: better equipment, smarter training, losing weight, etc. So, figuring out a way to add your trainer time to this list of ways to improve makes perfect sense. Your trainer is a useful tool you can use to tune up your cycling – without driving yourself batty in the process.

  • How to Stay Fit, Fresh & Enjoy the Holidays

    By Coach John Hughes  Think of the holidays as time for quality recovery, a time to gain freshness. Freshness means that you are fully recovered from all of your fall activities and ready – physically and mentally – for the next round of training. To gain freshness you need to cut back your total training volume significantly, by as much as 50 to 75% for a week or two before the holidays. To maintain fitness you should cut back your endurance riding more than your intensity volume, but you should still cut back your intensity volume by 25 to 50%. Here's what you could you do with your limited time.

  • Is Indoor Training Effective in the Spring?

    We've had terrible weather this spring! I can't get on the road often, so I've been on the trainer. Will it help me get ready for competition in a month?

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Off-Season Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our Latest Training ePubs

    StretchingCoreStrengtheningForTheCyclist.WEBWinter Cycling BundleIn STRETCHING & CORE STRENGTH FOR THE CYCLIST, our new 57-page eBook, Coach Rick Schultz and Amy Schultz clear up the confusion and take the guesswork out of knowing what to do, and how to do it, to implement a stretching and core strengthening program: Just $14.95; $12.71 forPremium Members, who save 15%!

    In the 3-article WINTER CYCLING BUNDLE Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter, including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically): Just $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our New Winter Cycling eArticle Bundle!

    Winter Cycling BundleIn this 3-article bundle Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter (what he dubs the "pre-season"), including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors by learning how to properly dress, eat, ride safely and stay motivated throughout the off-season; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically) by focusing on the often-overlooked mental side of the sport. WINTER CYCLING BUNDLEJust $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our New Winter Cycling eArticle Bundle!

    Winter Cycling BundleIn this 3-article bundle Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter (what he dubs the "pre-season"), including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors by learning how to properly dress, eat, ride safely and stay motivated throughout the off-season; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically) by focusing on the often-overlooked mental side of the sport. WINTER CYCLING BUNDLEJust $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Our New Winter Cycling eArticle Bundle!

    Winter Cycling BundleIn this 3-article bundle Coach John Hughes shows you how to train in the winter (what he dubs the "pre-season"), including 12-week plans based on rider goals; how to extend your "riding season" outdoors by learning how to properly dress, eat, ride safely and stay motivated throughout the off-season; and how to use sports psychology to improve your cycling (even long after you've plateaued physically) by focusing on the often-overlooked mental side of the sport. WINTER CYCLING BUNDLEJust $13.50; $11.48 for Premium Members!

  • Should I Cover My Legs With Warmers or Embrocation?

    Is it better to wear leg warmers on a cool day or coat my legs with some type of oil or embrocation? 

  • Should I Do Hamstring and Calf Exercises?

    You've mentioned using leg presses for cycling-specific weight training. Do you see any benefit from leg curls and calf raises?

  • Should I Ride and Lift on the Same Day?

    I started doing leg work in the gym twice a week to complement twice-weekly interval sessions, but now my legs are dead when I get on the bike. I want to keep riding this winter. Should I ride and lift on the same day, or lift on days I'm off the bike?

  • Should I Stop Leg Weight Training in Season?

    I've been doing twice-weekly leg exercises in the gym since last season and have made significant progress. At the beginning of March, I cut back to one session per week. Experienced racers say that a weight program should be discontinued during the season, but some coaches claim that if you stop lifting, all the gains will be lost. What should I do?

  • Still Getting 'Fat' in the Winter

    Editor's Note: Last year about this same time of year, Sheri Rosenbaum wrote this piece on fat bike riding as a winter training alternative. She's still hitting the trails – and even the beaches of Lake Michigan – on "Chris," her Trek Farley, named after the late comedian Chris Farley... "slow, large and a lot of fun!" We thought we'd rerun the article as a reminder of a fun alternative to the nowhere machine for anyone who lives in a climate that makes winter road biking untenable.

  • The Off-Season is Really The Preseason

    Thanksgiving is next week, and Hanukkah and Christmas are not far away. This time of year many riders take an off-season break of a month or more and don’t even start thinking about riding plans for 2016 until after the New Year. But it's also important not to take the "off" in off-season literally and do absolutely nothing. I've come to realize that the off-season is really the PRE-season.

  • Three Tight Muscle Groups to Stretch Out this Off-Season

    As a cyclist (really, as a typical person), it's extremely common for us to experience tight muscles in our daily lives. A tight muscle is a short muscle, and a short muscle cannot provide the power that a long muscle can. So, we need to stretch out those muscles to make them long again. The three tightest muscle groups that can affect us roadies are our hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. But it's clear that doing some specific stretches to help lengthen these muscles groups can have a profoundly positive effect on our riding.

  • Three Tight Muscle Groups to Stretch Out this Off-Season

    By Coach Rick Schultz  As a cyclist (really, as a typical person), it's extremely common for us to experience tight muscles in our daily lives. A tight muscle is a short muscle, and a short muscle cannot provide the power that a long muscle can. So, we need to stretch out those muscles to make them long again. The three tightest muscle groups that can affect us roadies are our hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. But it's clear that doing some specific stretches to help lengthen these muscles groups can have a profoundly positive effect on our riding.

  • Tips for Base Training in the Cold

    I live in Colorado and it’s already starting to snow. Two of our ski areas opened last week. As I write this a fire in my wood stove is keeping me warm. This is the time of year when I outline my clients' training plans for the year ahead. For the next 4-5 months I plan base training – whether the client lives in Boston, Colorado, Maine or California. Base training has many important benefits.

  • Why Am I So Sore from Squats?

    I recently purchased a set of free weights in hopes of improving cycling power and speed. But muscle soreness from squats prevented me from riding more than 12 mph for about 4 days -- exactly the opposite of my goal. What did I do wrong? 

  • Why Should I Do Upper-Body Weight Exercises?

    In your eBook Off-Season Training for Roadies you say to do only weight exercises that directly relate to cycling. If that's the case, why include any upper-body pushing exercises like pushups?

  • Will a Fixie Foul Up My Knees?

    I've been riding a fixed-gear bike occasionally for a few years, mainly during the winter months. I've enjoyed the purity of the riding experience, and the workout is definitely intensified and compressed. However, besides the fear of crashing, which seems to keep my senses sharpened, I am concerned that riding a fixed gear increases my risk of knee injury, especially as I get older (40+). I don't show any symptoms, but a friend says that trainers and orthopedics are now seeing more knee injuries due to fixed-gear riding. 

  • Will a Fixie Foul Up My Knees?

    By Coach Fred Matheny  I've been riding a fixed-gear bike occasionally for a few years, mainly during the winter months. I've enjoyed the purity of the riding experience, and the workout is definitely intensified and compressed. However, besides the fear of crashing, which seems to keep my senses sharpened, I am concerned that riding a fixed gear increases my risk of knee injury, especially as I get older (40+). I don't show any symptoms, but a friend says that trainers and orthopedics are now seeing more knee injuries due to fixed-gear riding.

  • Will Heavy Leg Weights Help My Cycling?

    I'm doing a leg workout that's so hard I can handle it only once per week: one set of squats or leg presses, one set of leg extensions, one set of calf raises. Each exercise is for 20-60 reps until failure; I can't possibly do another rep. I'm already getting stronger, so how much improvement I can expect in my cycling next summer?

  • Will Heavy Leg Weights Help My Cycling?

    I'm doing a leg workout that's so hard I can handle it only once per week: one set of squats or leg presses, one set of leg extensions, one set of calf raises. Each exercise is for 20-60 reps until failure; I can't possibly do another rep. I'm already getting stronger, so how much improvement I can expect in my cycling next summer?

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