How to plan your off-season cycling training

The time to plan for your 2012 cycling season is now. Yes, you heard me right. If you want to experience fitness gains, enter a race or just hang with your local group ride in the spring, you must start that conditioning over the winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a break or enjoy some cross-training this winter. After a busy season, some time off or just riding for fun provides the perfect mental break. But then it’s time to get to work. 

Define your goals.

Maybe you want to enter your first race, become a stronger climber or complete a century in 2012. In order to build a winter training plan, it’s important to set a goal. This provides the motivation to keep you pedaling on those long winter nights. Once you set your goal(s), it’s important to establish a timeline and set smaller, more measurable  goals along the way.

What’s your plan?

You don’t have to have a coach to build a successful winter training plan. Once you’ve set your objectives, do some research now to find a training plan that aligns with your goals and fits into your schedule.


There’s nothing worse than sitting on the trainer, spinning away with no roadmap. At least junk miles outside provide fresh air and a decent view. When you’re inside, you want to do the most work in the least amount of time. No one wants to spend three hours on the trainer (at least I don’t). A DVD workout such as Chris Carmichael’s Train Right,  Robbie Ventura’s Real Rides, Troy Jacobson’s Spinervals or the Sufferfest videos (among others) all offer challenging workouts and a platform to build specific fitness such as power and speed.

Instead of buying a DVD here and there, try to stick to one series (or build your own) that works on progressively building fitness and focus on finding DVDs that align with your goals.  For instance, last winter, I bought the Real Rides series. Ventura’s DVDs are set up to progressively build fitness, which took the guess work out of my trainer rides and how long or hard of a workout I should be doing. I’ve only done a few of the other DVDs I’ve mentioned, but I find Real Rides to be an affordable and effective option for winter training. Plus outdoor sessions and helmet came footage make it easy to stay engaged. Best of all, in the spring I could see the results of this training when I hit the road.

Training Plans

Anyone who’s done a Google search knows there are plenty of training plans available online. For a starting point, check out TrainingPeaks for individualized or basic training plans. Another popular option, especially for racers is The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. Friel offers sample training plans for various cycling goals, along with nutritional and strength training information. For an in-depth look at every aspect of training and conditioning as a cyclist, this book is a must.

If you want the best of both worlds, Graeme Street offers specific training plans that include audio, DVDs, podcasts and specific training plans to help riders of every level reach their goals. Street integrates nutrition, core work and yoga into his training plans to help strengthen cyclist’s weaknesses and prevent injury. Best of all, these plans are available a la cart, which saves money and allows you to integrate yoga or core work into your pre-existing training plan.


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