Winter Base Training

By Coach Tom Shanney
The end of summer is here and as the weather changes as does our approach to training. After a long season it is important to look forward and plan for the next year, what goals and targets lay ahead. During the cold winter months there is a great temptation to hang the wheels up until the sun appears again, however this doesn’t need to be the case!! A well planned dose of winter training is the starting block for a successful year ahead.  
Motivation is key when it gets colder and darker, those long solo rides become less appealing.  To stay motivated there are several things that can be done. Try to ride with a group, the more the merrier, you are much more likely to go for a ride when there is 5 others dragging you out of bed on a Sunday morning. Vary your training instead of always going for a ride on the roads try taking the mountain or cyclocross bike out for a spin,  and of course make the warm & welcoming Lab your second home!!!
Planning is essential and an important step to take is assessing your current level of fitness. This can be difficult as doing an FTP test at this time of year may not produce the most outstanding of values, however the number is nothing to worry about as it’s more as a yard stick to plan your winter training around and measure your improvements. The main focus of winter is building a base; there is no substitute for hours on the bike and long steady miles. Easing back on intensity, and instead concentrate on building a foundation, that will help you to absorb and gain benefit from all your future higher intensity sessions. It will improve your cardiovascular fitness, leg strength and help you become a more efficient rider. However don’t totally neglect the higher intensity sessions it’s useful to add a few into your schedule to maintain that top end power.
Another aspect to consider during the winter months is to introduce some strength training which come the spring can pay dividends. A good strong core can help prevent injury and will help eliminate unnecessary upper-body movement and working on upper body strength is beneficial for both climbing and sprinting. The main goal with strength training is to create a stronger support system for your prime movers while on the bike. Key exercises include workouts such as lunges, squats, dead lifts and chest press aim to keep the reps low and the weights high, with 2 – 3 sessions a week.