We have all heard the quote, “Races are won in the off season” and I couldn’t agree more. Initially during the season cyclists build strength and fitness. But at some point, hopefully after the A race(s), fitness starts to gradually decline. I frequently tell my athletes getting fit is the easy part, staying fit is the hard part. So once the race season is over and you have taken some time off and also ridden a bit without structure, it is time to go back to square one. I have spent a lot of time and research developing one of the best and most progressive off season strength programs around and now as an ALP Athlete you can see the results yourself. It does take commitment but I promise you, you will start 2015 with a feeling of strength, balance, and ready for whatever the season dishes out.
The program kicks off with skills training, working on proper form and technique, and also slowly starts to rebuild an even stronger foundation that next season will be based on. During the season we gradually succumb to sluggish legs, that snap we had at the beginning of the year has been lost and we find our peak powers often dropping off slightly. How do we get this back? First rest, then rebuild. I generally break the off season into 4 stages: Transition, Strength, Explosiveness, and Muscular Endurance. This year I have incorporated a lot of proprioception work and triplanar work. Proprioception is your awareness in space, or awareness of how your body is positioned. This is because as cyclists we actually lose some athleticism during the season because riding is so unilateral.
Transition is the time to get familiar with this type of training again and prepare your bodies for the work to come. High cadence workouts on the bike to get that leg speed back and to teach muscles to be supple and efficient. Workouts should not be too taxing. This time of year is not about the number of watts being generated but teaching muscles to be smooth, efficient, and actually generating less watts going just as fast or faster.
Strength is about just that. Building a stronger body and foundation from which you will draw from all season, activating as many muscles as possible, and injury prevention.
After Strength you move into Explosiveness. We continue to build our foundation incorporating plyometrics and bike specific workouts. This is when you chase new peak powers for 1-10 second values. Whether you consider yourself a sprinter or not, every cyclist should have “snap” or the ability to accelerate very quickly. This will give you that.
The last piece of the puzzle is Muscular Endurance, where we teach our bodies to go hard for a sustained duration. This tops off our engines to move into more on the bike training and building specific energy systems for each rider’s individual goals.
I have an analogy I use to explain my methodology for off season training. Stay with me on this and I think you gain a better understand of how it all works. Think of yourself as a garden hose.
You aren’t the biggest hose that can move the most water but you don’t have any leaks. Now your friend is the biggest garden hose made and supposedly can move the most water. You are smaller, but your friend is bigger and has 10 leaks. At full capacity, you can pump through 12 gallons of water a minute and with no leaks. Your friend can pump 20 gallons of water but each leak costs 1 gallon. So only 10 gallons are being pumped out the end of the hose. You are now “bigger” than your friend. Transition this to your bike. You might only have a FTP of 3 w/kg but if you don’t have any leaks and your competition has an FTP of 3.5 w/kg but isn’t as efficient as you, you will be stronger than them.
Now, no excuses. Commit to the ALP Cycles off season training and make 2015 your best season yet!