Blog July 29, 2019 While you may never make it to the Tour de France, applying these ten training strategies will help you become a better, faster and more efficient cyclist, no matter what speed or distance you ride. 1. Train for Cardiovascular Endurance Long-distance bike racing requires cardiovascular endurance. This refers to the rider’s ability to generate energy to the working muscles for hours of intense exercise, day after day. There are many different ways to train to increase endurance. Related Post: The Best Road Bikes 2019 for the Money Reviews Some of the most well-known endurance training programs include: Long slow distance trainingPace/tempo trainingInterval trainingCircuit trainingFartlek training 2. Build Power for Sprints Although elite-level cyclists tend to specialize in one area of riding, a well-rounded cyclist will be able to ride long and hard and still have enough of a “kick” or sprint at the end of the race. Explosive exercise training routines are one way to increase power output and hopefully, increase your odds of winning a group sprint. Get started with the following workouts: Squatting: This is the best weightlifting exercise for cyclists.Stair-running workouts: Stairs are another great way to build power. Related: 15 Running Tips Need Every Runner to Know 3. Eat the Right Food at the Right Time It’s essential to eat and drink for sports performance and recovery. It can be a complicated process and many athletes work with nutritionists and coaches to find the perfect balance of calories and nutrients that work best for them. Even the most complicated food plans, though, share these basic principles: Water vs. Sports Drinks: Which is better for athletes?The Pre-Exercise Meal: Learn how to fuel yourself to have a great workout.The Post-Exercise Meal: Learn how to eat for optimal recovery. 4. Make Sure Your Bike Fits You No matter what type of cyclist you are, riding a bike that fits you well is essential to both comfort and efficiency. If you have neck, back, or knee pain, saddle sores, or hand or foot numbness, your bicycle probably doesn’t fit you properly. A good bike fit can also improve your pedaling efficiency and aerodynamics and make you faster. It’s also important to make sure your helmet fits correctly and that everything on your bike is in working order before you start your ride. 5. Don’t Forget to Stretch Recommendations to stretch or not stretch change from year to year and from expert to expert. However, due to the repetitive nature of cycling, cyclists need to maintain flexibility and muscle balance in some specific muscle groups. Cyclists tend to develop muscle tightness in the hamstrings, hip flexors, and chest if these muscles aren’t stretched regularly. 6. Improve Your Bike Handling Skills Pro cyclists have amazing bike handling skills. They are smooth through corners, stable on descents, are aware of road conditions and traffic. Skilled cyclists ride predictably and follow the rules of the road. Related: 5 Best Cycling Gloves for Comfort and Protection on Your Ride Good bike handling is essential if you plan to ride in a paceline where riders follow within inches of each other to take advantage of aerodynamics. In a paceline, the lead rider battles air resistance and creates a draft that saves the other riders up to 30 percent of their energy. This type of riding takes tremendous bike handling skill. If you want to improve your bike handling, ride with skilled riders, take a bike safety course, or join an established local club and ask questions about improving your bike handling skills. 7. Don’t Go It Alone Training alone day after day can become a bit of a training dead-end. To improve your cycling and your results, you should consider joining a local club or bike racing team that matches your skills and goals. Related Post: Bicycle Friendly South Carolina Communities Being a part of a team is also essential if you want to race at a competitive level. Team strategies and tactics are a huge part of every bike race. Find a local Bicycle Club at USA Cycling. 8. Get Some Rest Don’t forget the value of rest days and cross-training off the bike. Rest and recovery are essential to achieve peak performance in any sport. Stretching, massage, sleep, and general downtime are often used by pro athletes to recover from their demanding workouts. Overtraining can easily occur in athletes who train frequently and at high intensity. It’s important to watch for the signs of overtraining and listen to your body when it is calling for rest. 9. Exercise Off The Bike If your main sport is cycling, it’s important to get off the bike and do a bit of cross-training on occasion. This is most important in the off-season, but maintaining flexibility and enjoying another form of exercise throughout the year can keep your muscles balanced and help you avoid overuse injuries. Training the same way day after day often leads to staleness, fatigue, boredom and makes you more prone to injury or burnout. Related: The Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet You may eventually hit a plateau and fail to see any additional improvement. Elite athletes use the off-season to mix it up and modify their workouts every few weeks or months. 10. Wear Cycling-Specific Clothing Cycling clothing may look a little strange at first, but the specialized clothes do serve a purpose. Clothing: The tight-fitting clothing minimizes wind resistance as well as increases visibility. The shorts have special padding to eliminate chafing and increase comfort on the saddle, and yes, they are to be worn without underwear. Related: Why Do Cyclists Wear Tight Bike Shorts? Bike Shoes: Most cyclists now wear special shoes with cleats that attach to the pedal with a click and release with a twist. This not only increases cycling efficiency (you can pull up as well as push down on the pedal) but also increases safety. Bike Helmet: The bike helmet is a mandatory piece of safety equipment. No sanctioned bike races will allow a rider to compete without a helmet.