Triathlete’s Beginner’s Guide: Becoming A Better Cyclist

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Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

In the fourth article of Triathlete’s beginner series, senior editor Matt Fitzgerald talks about how to improve on your cycling during a single-sport focus period.

If cycling is your weak link, your best bet to attack it, aside from spending more time in the saddle, is to increase the variety of your bike training. By variation I mean, specifically challenging the limits of your pedaling capacity in different ways. Throwing disparate types of pedaling challenges at your neuromuscular system forces it to get creative-to try out different patterns of muscle recruitment, some of which will be more efficient, others of which will help you better resist fatigue.

Each bike workout within your weekly training regimen should be unlike the others. The most important variable to manipulate in training is speed, or intensity, because fatigue results from different causes at different pedaling intensities, and experiencing fatigue from different causes stimulates disparate physiological adaptations.

The four major speed/intensity levels you need to incorporate regularly in your training, in order of decreasing volume, are moderate aerobic intensity (a comfortable but not dawdling pace), threshold intensity (roughly 40K race pace), VO2max pace (a pace you can sustain for no longer than 10 minutes) and maximum power.

Other variables to fiddle with in bike training are duration (be sure to do one longer ride each week), gradient (don’t let a week go by without taking on some challenging climbs), cadence (throw some high-cadence intervals into the mix to improve your efficiency at higher cadences) and force (throw some high-gear efforts into the mix to improve your power output capacity).

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