Basics Of Cycling Training Doctrines

The Principle Of Load And Recovery is the most fundamental principle of training. After the load of a good workout, we become better and stronger because of the recovery of the body.  Training stimulus leads in the first place to fatigue, stress and damage to cells and muscles.  After the subsequent recovery period, which is essential, where the damage is repaired, the body performs even better. During the recovery period after exercise, fitness gain is realized.

A good rest and recovery is an essential part of the training. It is a pity that many athletes pay insufficient attention to their recovery making it impossible to perform optimally. After a hard workout muscle cells are damaged. These cells are broken down by enzymes, and then are built up as new stronger cells. Muscle soreness after a hard workout is often a good sign. It indicates that the recovery process is going on.

The sequence of load and recovery must be timed correctly. With insufficient recovery time fatigue or overtraining may occur and the training stimulus produces a negative effect. At a too long recovery time no positive training effect will occur. The aim is that the next training stimulus exactly fits on the restoration of the previous training stimulus, giving a positive training effect is achieved. This effect is called:  SUPER COMPENSATION.

If the exercise is precisely dosed in size and intensity and the rest is long enough, this recovery will reach a higher level than before. Improving the starting level, we call: ‘SUPER COMPENSATION’.

Recovery creates after a workout super compensation. During the super compensation the fitness level is better than before training. The fitness level is after recovery better   than the starting level.

When recovery is too short after training and the next training stimulus is given before super compensation is reached the training effect will be negative. If this happens too often in succession then the condition will not become better but worse. The athlete gets overtired or even over-trained.

The training should always be a right combination of load and recovery in order to achieve super compensation. In practice, this principle leads to the alternating heavy and light training. Which training is heavy or light depends on the level of physical condition and is determined by the extent and the intensity of the workout?

Principle Of Sufficient Variations And Intensity

This principle is ignored by many athletes. Do not limit training to one aspect, for example, only endurance training, but ensure adequate variations that address all relevant processes.

In the second place a part of the training is to be carried out with a sufficiently high intensity, so that all the energy systems can develop. In practice, it is necessary to train both much volume for developing the leg muscles sufficiently, as to achieve a high intensity in order to improve the VO2max and the FTP and to develop the various energy supplying systems. In addition to the aerobic fat burning and aerobic conversion of glycogen also the anaerobic conversion of glycogen and ATP system.

Many cyclists ignore the speed workouts, that is not wise because then only the aerobic system is involved. And often still at a level that is too low.  Intensive workouts are by far the most effective to make progress on high level. It is important to seek constantly new stimuli in training. Finally, remember that effective training stimuli always fall outside the comfort zone. It is thus necessary to suffer pain even in training. No pain, no gain.

Principle Of Gradual And Consistent Building Up

The training load should not be increased too quickly. The risk of injuries thus becomes less. Increase the training load slowly and in moderation, not more than 5 to 10% per month. Listen to your body. Pay attention for caution signs of overtraining and prevent injuries.

In general, it is wise to keep some training stimulus for six weeks. In this period the body will have adjusted and the training effect will be achieved.

Then, the next step can be put, either in volume or preferably in intensity. Also pay attention to variations in the training stimuli. Frequent repetition of training forms for example short sprints are useful to the body to become accustomed to the load which makes the cycle efficiency optimal.

The Principle Of Diminishing Returns

This principle is also logical. In the beginning, the effect of training is very large and speed and endurance will increase rapidly. As we improve the conditional effect of training is getting smaller. World Toppers have to train very hard, both in size and intensity, in order to improve for a few seconds in a time trial.

For ordinary riders the progress is great until the moment that training is nearly a daily routine, with a volume of 500 km per week and one workout with high intensity at least once a week.  After that progress will be slower. But also, after years of training, progress is still possible. Often, the best results are achieved after 5 -10 years of training.

The Principle Of Specificity

This principle implies that the effects of training are specifically related to the muscles and energy systems that are taxed in the training. So, a cyclist hardly trains his leg muscles and arm and chest muscles hardly. It is even so that the leg muscles are being developed in cyclists in a different way than in runners. The practical consequence is that it is best for cyclists to do almost always bike workouts.

In this manner, the body is optimally prepared for the races. Power training in a gym has less value for a cyclist, unless the strength is aimed at increasing the strength of the leg muscles and improves the core stability.

Another consequence of the same principle is that it is better to focus the training on the race distance. This applies in particular to the energy supplying systems. A sprinter will have to develop the ATP system, a classic race rider also the anaerobic system and a stage rider the aerobic system. Again, of course, it is not good to train unilaterally, just think of the final sprint which can also be of great importance for a tour rider. But a cyclist has to train every system, in a good balance and specialization, such as climbing, time trial and sprint should receive special attention.

The Principle Of Periodization

Many athletes cannot maintain a continuous training at a high level and get burned out to a certain point. Therefore, special programs are developed, consisting of the following elements:

  • BASIC PERIOD: building condition, with the emphasis on size.
  • SPECIFIC PREPARATION: same size but with particular intensity.
  • RACE SPECIFIC PREPARATION: less size but races and recovery in between.
  • RACE PERIOD: with less volume but with race and recovery in between.
  • REST PERIOD: in which the body can recover before the next period begins.

Many training programs today have a similar design, which often also within the period be placed cycles of building and repairing, such as building three weeks followed by one-week relative rest.

Principal Of Reversibility

The effects of training are in a high degree reversible. The effect of years of serious training could be lost in a relatively short time due to illness or injury. A period of one month doing nothing already leads to a considerable deterioration in of the condition, in the order of 10 to 20%.

It is positive that training, following a period of illness or injury, again quickly leads to a significant improvement in the condition.

Principle Of Individuality And Flexibility

This is also an important principle that takes into account the fact that the differences between people can be huge. A sprinter will have to follow a different workout than a stage rider, but between stages riders’ major differences also exist. Some people benefit from endurance training and others have much more benefit from speed training. This has to do with genetic differences and other differences.

The art is to find out which approach is best suited for each individual rider. Hence, flexibility in the buildup of the training is of great importance. Adjust the training on the basis of experience. Do this gradually and carefully to prevent injuries and overtraining. In general, it is wise to utilize your strong points.

Principle Of Maintenance

Once you have a good condition, it is quite possible to maintain this for a long time with limited training. During this training above all the speed must be maintained, the size can be reduced without major consequences. In athletics this principle is used by greatly reducing the volume during the race period, so that athletes always remain fresh for speed workouts and races. The same goes on for cyclists. In the race period less volume, so making less km, but continue to maintain the intervals, and the speed workouts in order to hold the shape.