With winter in full swing, we’ve quickly moved from race season to the holiday season, where all the hard-earned fitness gained from the previous spring, summer, and fall can easily be lost. Longtime ENVE athlete and 2015 Xterra World Champion, Josiah Middaugh, knows how challenging maintaining fitness during the winter can be, especially when living in snowy climates. Josiah shares his tips from experience both as a coach and professional athlete for the performance cyclist to stay strong this winter.
For nearly 20 years, this has been my secret for off-season gains. There are several options now for smart trainers that measure power. Even with limited training hours, it is possible to increase your functional threshold power (FTP) with some focused training. In my cycling classes at the Westin Riverfront, it is pretty standard to see a 10% improvement in FTP with 12 weeks of structured training. I usually start with some force pedaling workouts with high resistance and a slow cadence (60-70 rpms). Then I progress to tempo workouts with long bouts around 90% FTP. My bread and butter is threshold training with several 6- to 12-minute bouts at or around 100% of FTP.
I recommend everyone shoots for a minimum of 16 weeks of strength training, and for athletes over 40 years old there is a case to be made for year-round strength training. Use this time of lower volume to substitute some of your total training hours with strength training. I recommend just two sessions per week, focused on functional, multi-joint exercises. Include some exercises that mimic the demands of cycling, such as squats, lunges, and step-ups, but don’t stop there. Also include exercises that are more distant from the cycling motion, increasing mobility, balance, and targeting some of the muscle imbalances cycling creates by calling on some of those neglected muscle groups. Hit the posterior chain with exercises such as kettlebell swings, deadlifts, and rows. For core exercises, focus on stabilization exercises such as planks, side planks, bird-dogs, and glute bridges. If you haven’t been in the gym for a while, consider booking a few sessions with a personal trainer to freshen up your routine.
Even though I believe in the benefits of indoor training, I still like to get outside when I can. Take a mental break from the trainer and get outside at least once a week for some winter biking or cross training. For those of us in snow country, road biking is probably limited to select days, but fat biking is really taking off. Some places are even grooming trail systems. The great thing about fat biking is that you can get a good workout going relatively slow, so you don’t get the same wind chill as road biking. Snowshoeing and Nordic skiing are great cross-training options and can really help build your aerobic engine. For mountain bikers, it is important to have some component of training that is carrying your body weight uphill. I think the indoor trainers do a great job of simulating a flat road, but not so great as simulating uphills. If you are lucky enough to live near a ski resort that has uphill access, you can get an amazing workout by hiking up and taking a chairlift or gondola back down.
For more training advice and tips visit Middaugh Coaching.