Question: I read your eBooks. All winter I’ve been doing the high-resistance/low-cadence “grinders” you recommend. They’ve helped my climbing and my knees haven’t hurt. My question: Should I continue them during the spring and summer? Do the pros keep doing this type of training while they’re racing? — Bob R.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I’m glad to hear that your knees are happy doing the big-gear work.
Remember that training should be specific to your goals. Most riders can go a lot faster in a smaller gear at a rapid cadence compared to grinding up a hill at 55 rpm.
As a result, “grinders” work better in the off-season to serve as a strength-building tool. Then you add higher-cadence intervals for the speed needed for competition.
But because low-cadence power can deteriorate over time, I’ve heard pros (and their coaches) say that they continue some form of low-cadence/high-resistance training about once a week during the season. This could be considered a maintenance program.
These workouts don’t have to be formal. If you’re riding in a group and come to a hill, just go up in a bigger gear. As long as your buddies aren’t going all-out, you’ll be able to keep up. Tell them what you’re doing so they don’t ask if your derailleur is broken or you forgot how to shift.
You can find other opportunities to incorporate big-gear work during the season (against headwinds, for example) without forcing yourself to do it as in a formal program.