How to plan your winter training

Four tips for making the most from your cycling over the winter months

With the weather still turning colder, and the off-season in full swing you'll want to tailor your winter riding and training to not only make the most of any available time you have for cycling, but to also keep you motivated through the dark, colder months.

Here are four tips to help you do just that.

1. Set a goal

A goal provides purpose. If you know you’re working towards an event or target, whether it’s a certain body weight or a KOM on Strava, it’ll help motivate you on days when the warmth of the house looks a lot better than the harshness outdoors.

It’s important to remember to keep goals or challenges difficult yet realistic. Always keep in mind how much time you have to put in and don’t obviously set yourself up for failure by expecting something far past your natural ability.

Long shadows, crisp air, the softness of snow, embrace the differences in seasons
Long shadows, crisp air, the softness of snow, embrace the differences in seasons

2. Specific training

Winter is an ideal time to hone your weakest skillset. Whether it be climbing, sprinting or endurance, the off season is a fantastic time to improve and come back stronger and better in the spring.

Specific interval workouts are perfect for an indoor trainer or rollers because external variances are eliminated. If endurance training is on your list, it might be a fine excuse to look into a winter training camp somewhere warm and sunny.

Joe Hewitt, former strength and conditioning coach with British Cycling and the English Institute for Sport, recommends: "If you’re looking to improve physically this winter then look at your steady endurance and interval training ratio — to go faster or get fitter aim to do one or two quality interval sessions through the week, with steady endurance rides making up the rest."

Bundle up and get outside to work on your weaknesses
Bundle up and get outside to work on your weaknesses

3. Always be improving

Slow and steady improvement is better than being stagnant or at a plateau in your fitness. Increasing mileage or effort makes your body adapt and evolve to the challenge.

According to Hewitt: “In many cases this is best done through four-week patterns. For three weeks, challenge yourself by increasing one or two training areas each week, for example duration or intensity. Make week four easier, before starting a new four-week block. That way you’re constantly moving on."

Winter is an ideal time to hit the gym
Winter is an ideal time to hit the gym

4. Hit the gym

Winter is the time to get ripped! No just kidding, but it is a great time to strengthen both your legs and your core. Hewitt mentions that “Evidence suggests that building your lower body strength with leg presses, Bulgarian split squats (with rear foot elevated) and split squats (both feet on the floor) can help your cycling.

"Using foam rollers to ease quad muscles and iliotibial (commonly referred to as IT) band can be useful.” Having a strong core makes long hours in the saddle more enjoyable. Also, proper stretching and yoga can be mixed in to relieve tight, overworked muscles.

Winter-specific cycling clothing is a thing now thanks to the emergence of fat bikes
Winter-specific cycling clothing is a thing now thanks to the emergence of fat bikes

Article last updated 17 February 2018

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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