Archive for the TrainerRoad Blog Category

Offseason Strength Training for Cyclists

01/18/2022 0:03

The offseason is the perfect time to introduce strength training to your routine. The good news is that you don’t have to invest much time to reap all the benefits. Here are exercises and tips to help get you started.

For more information on strength training, check out Ask a Cycling Coach Ep 345.

Benefits of Offseason Strength Training for Cyclists

The offseason presents an excellent opportunity to begin strength training. Simply put, with the reduction of volume and intensity in your cycling training, you’ll be able to give extra focus to your weight training. So whether you’re taking a break from endurance training or reducing your overall volume, there’s little risk of compromising the quality of your rides. 

There are numerous benefits to strength training for cyclists when the primary goal is increasing performance. You can increase injury resistance and your ability to manage fatigue—two things that will help keep your in-season training on track. Additionally, resistance training staves off bone and muscle mass loss that comes with age. All this adds to a fitter and healthier you, away from the bike.

8 Strength Training Exercises for the Offseason

There are almost an unlimited amount of strength training exercises that you can do. This can make strength training quite overwhelming. To help get you started this offseason, here are eight of our favorite exercises. Each one can be completed with little to no gym equipment.

Hollow Body Single-Arm Dumbbell Press

Raise your legs off the floor and tilt the pelvis upward. Bring your shoulders off the floor to engage your core. As you press the weight, resist lower body movement as much as possible. While Jonathan is doing this on the floor, you can do it on a bench to increase your range of motion. 

Single-Arm Dumbbell Glute Press

A great one for cyclists, this exercise activates the posterior, including the glutes and hips. The width of your stance will influence which muscle groups are working the hardest. Placing your feet together emphasizes the hips and requires more stability. 

Kettlebell Gorilla Rows

These rows are an excellent cycling-specific movement. Start with a slight bend in the knees, and hinge at the hips. Most importantly, keep a flat back to keep from compromising your lumbar position. For beginners, start with a 45-degree hinge angle.

Pendlay Row

Very similar to the gorilla rows, this exercise is done with a barbell. The most important thing to emphasize is a safe hip hinge angle. Here, Jonathan demonstrates the move at a 90-degree bend, which is the maximum. To keep your back safe, feel free to stand a bit taller. Additionally, you can change your grip to get hyper-specific to the type of riding you do. 

Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats

These squats are excellent for developing stability in the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Coach Chad likes to call this movement the bread and butter of endurance strength training because there are so many benefits concerning flexibility, mobility, and strength. Just make sure to keep your knee from drifting over the toes on your foot. 

Box Squats

A classic movement, box squats pair nicely with your primary movements on the bike. Before loading on weight, focus on your range of motion and perfect your form. 

Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift. 

Single-leg deadlifts are excellent if you are prone to injury with deadlift motions. Keep a long-standing leg with only a subtle bend and a flat back. In this example, Jonathan is doing it crossbody. Holding the weight standing-leg side will make it easier to stabilize. 

Single-Leg Hip Thrusts

Single-leg hip thrusts can be challenging using just your bodyweight. Foot placement can change the exercise noticeably. If you pull the foot more toward the rear, you’ll work the hamstring more. Shifting the foot outward will emphasize the glute. 

5 Tips For Getting Started

Getting started with any new kind of training can seem daunting, and strength training is no exception. These five tips can help you get started with your offseason strength training. 

1. Start Slowly

When you start, it’s best to do so slowly. If you’re new to resistance training, start with bodyweight exercises. This will help you hone in on your form and prepare your joints for additional weight later on. Aim to do these two or three times a week.

As a bonus, you’ll need little to no equipment for these exercises. Check out the video above for five exercises that you can do at home.

2. Keep It Short and Simple

As a cyclist, you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits. Not only is it easier to maintain consistency, but you can also increase the duration as you adapt. To help keep things simple, focus on four main categories of movements—press, pull, squat, and hinge. 

3. Train Movements, Not Muscles

Strength training for endurance athletes is markedly different than bodybuilders. Our primary objective is functional strength. This means using exercises that favor the entire body, not one specific muscle group—think rows instead of bicep curls. 

4. Guide Your Overall Workload

Overdoing strength training leads to many undesirable outcomes. Let fatigue and fear of injury guide your overall workload. In the beginning, be conservative to avoid setbacks.

5. Set Goals

Before you jump into the gym, it’s a great idea to set some goals to guide your training. To help, we’ve created cycling-specific strength training benchmarks. Coach Chad developed these benchmarks with three types of cyclists in mind—climber, all-rounder, and sprinter. 

These benchmarks are for endurance athletes concerned with enhancing their endurance capabilities, improving their basic quality of movement in day-to-day life, decreasing their likelihood of crash-related injuries, and decreasing their odds of bone mass loss. You can use the Strength Training Calculator to get a list of goals. 

For more cycling training knowledge, listen to Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

Big Goals, Unbound Gravel, Injury Prevention and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 346

01/14/2022 0:03

Amber Pierce, Hannah Finchamp, and Nate Pearson join us for an in-depth guide on goal setting and achieving, as well as a discussion on Hannah’s plans at Unbound Gravel, injury prevention and much more. Join us for Episode 346 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast!

More show notes and discussion in the TrainerRoad Forum.

Topics covered in this episode

  • Hannah’s new team!

  • Amber’s guide to goal setting and achieving

  • Injury prevention and a discussion on concussions

  • Rapid Fire Questions

  • Women’s saddle suggestions

  • Should natural sprinter base train differently?

  • Long ride nutrition strategy tips

  • Hannah’s strategy for Unbound Gravel and gravel tips from the hosts

Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Successful Athletes Podcast

Science of Getting Faster Podcast

For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

Strength Exercises for Cyclists, High Volume, Goal Setting and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 345

01/7/2022 0:03

We covered the science behind mixing strength training and endurance training in Episode 341, and now we’ll cover practical suggestions of how you can best fit them into your training schedule, which exercises are best, and get input from pro athletes on what they do. Join us for a discussion on this, high volume training, goal setting and much more in Episode 345 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast!

More show notes and discussion in the TrainerRoad Forum.

Resources From Today’s Episode

Hollow Body Single Arm DB Press
Single-Arm DB Glute Press
KB Gorilla Rows
Pendlay Row
Rear Foot Elevated (Bulgarian) Split Squat
Box Squats
Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
Single Leg Barbell Hip Thrusts 


Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Successful Athletes Podcast

Science of Getting Faster Podcast


For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

Habits and Traits of Successful Athletes with USAC’s Jim Miller – Ask a Cycling Coach 344

12/31/2021 0:02

Jim Miller is the Chief of Sports Performance at USA Cycling and has coached more Olympic cycling medal-winning athletes than any other coach in US history. Jim is a 5x Olympic Team Member and has coached his athletes to 5 Olympic medals, 6 World Championships, 10 World Championship Podiums and upwards of 60 National Championships, receiving the Order of Ikkos three times and USOC Coach of the Year two times.

More show notes and discussion in the TrainerRoad Forum.



Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Successful Athletes Podcast

Science of Getting Faster Podcast


For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

A Guide To Bike Tire Size: How It’s Measured and Why It Matters

12/30/2021 0:02

Your bicycle’s tires might not be something you think about very often, but they have crucial implications for every aspect of your ride. Better understanding how your mountain, gravel, and road bike tire size is measured can help you fine-tune your equipment, and learning how tire size relates to performance can make you faster when it counts. What are the basics of bike tire size?

How Do You Measure Bicycle Tire Size?

Bike tires are typically measured in two dimensions— diameter and width. The diameter measurement is an approximation of the tire’s total outside diameter including treads, and the width is a measurement of the approximate total width of the tire when mounted and inflated. For mountain bike tires these dimensions are expressed in inches, while a millimeter-based system called French sizing is used for road, gravel, and track. For example, a 29 x 2.25 mountain bike tire is about 29” in diameter and about 2.25” wide, while a 700c x 25 road tire is approximately 700mm in diameter and 25mm wide. 

This makes it pretty straightforward to fit a modern tire to a modern rim—a 700c tire will almost definitely fit a 700c road rim (we’ll explain that “c” later), and a 29” tire will likely fit a 29” mountain bike rim. But some obsolete or unusual sizes can be misleadingly labeled, and any tire’s nominal measurements (especially width) are really just approximations. Rim width and tire pressure can significantly influence the size of a tire when mounted and inflated, and tires often measure a bit larger or smaller when installed than the printed dimension would suggest. 

To reduce confusion, most tires are also labeled with a second system of measurements called ISO (formerly known as ETRTO). The ISO measurement displays the tire’s nominal width in millimeters, followed by the diameter of the tire’s bead (the surface that actually attaches to the rim) in millimeters (ex: 25 x 622 is a common road tire). This measurement can help resolve any ambiguity about whether a tire will fit a particular rim, but as with other systems, the ISO measurement of a tire’s width is an approximation and may be impacted by pressure and rim width.

Road Bike Tire Sizes

Nearly all modern road bikes use 700c wheels and tires. It used to be widely accepted that narrower tires were faster and 23mm was the standard width. But recent research has proven wider tires to be faster and more comfortable in most situations. As a result, 700c x 25mm and 700c x 28mm are now the most common road tire sizes; many riders prefer even wider widths of 30mm or 32mm. The limiting factor is usually the bike itself, with some frames unable to accommodate tires beyond a certain width. Most new road frames can at least fit up to 28mm tires but double-check your frame’s allowance before sizing up.

A few other less common wheel and tire sizes exist for road bikes. 650b (ISO 584) and the rarer 650c (ISO 571) are two examples, both sometimes used on bikes for smaller riders. The letter that follows the diameter measurement in French tire sizes originally delineated width, but it’s now mostly just useful to differentiate between similarly-named but incompatible sizes. For instance, a 650b tire will not fit on a 650c rim.

It’s also important to understand the different types of mutually-incompatible road tires. Clinchers are most common; these are the familiar tires that seat into a walled rim around an inner tube. Certain clincher rims can also be used with tubeless tires, which use a liquid sealant in place of an inner tube. Finally, tubular tires are permanently sewn closed around an internal tube and are glued into a specially-made rim. All 3 of these tire types use the same sizing standards and terminology but are generally not interchangeable.

Road Bike Tire Pressure

Tires are printed with a manufacturer’s recommended pressure range, and road riders used to think inflating their tires to the highest possible pressure was fastest. But with the move to wider tires has also come a trend towards lower pressure. The science of tire pressure is complicated, but wider tires require less pressure for the same volume of air than narrower tires, allowing for a more comfortable ride. Additionally, wider tires at lower pressures reduce bouncing and are actually faster on most surfaces than smaller, harder tires.

It’s tough to make a generalized recommendation for pressure—riding conditions, your weight, and the tire’s size all play a part. But generally, the larger the tire and the rougher the surface, the lower the optimal pressure. With each 3mm increase in tire width, you can usually reduce pressure by 1 Bar (~14 psi). Also, tubeless tires can generally be ridden at lower pressures than tubed tires of the same size. Some tire and rim manufacturers have calculators on their websites that make personalized recommendations for pressure; these are a great starting resource to make your ride faster and more efficient.

Adaptive Training

Get the right workout, every time
with training that adapts to you.

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Mountain Bike Tire Sizes

Mountain bike tires are measured in inches and are offered in 3 non-interchangeable diameters corresponding to common mountain bike wheel sizes. Most popular for high-end mountain bikes are 29” tires and wheels. Next come 27.5” setups, preferred by some riders who like smaller,  slightly more maneuverable wheels. And finally, 26” wheels and tires used to be the standard, but are now found mostly on entry-level and kids’ bikes. 

Tires at each of these diameters are available in a wide variety of widths, which riders select for the specifics of their discipline and terrain. Cross-country racers usually choose comparatively narrow tires ranging from 1.9” to 2.25” wide. Trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes are normally equipped with wider tires between 2.25” and 2.4”, and downhill tires are even wider at 2.4” to 2.6”. Finally, fat bike tires are mounted on purpose-built rims and push the boundaries even further, sometimes measuring as wide as 5”. The specifics of tire choice are carefully considered by mountain bikers, with racers often choosing different widths and tread patterns depending on the course and conditions.

Interestingly, most mountain bike wheel sizes are actually the same diameter as road wheels—29” wheels are equivalent to 700c, while 27.5” are the same as 650b. But you wouldn’t want to put tires intended for one on a wheel intended for the other, as the rim’s width is dramatically different for road and mountain bikes and would interfere with the tire’s performance.

Mountain Bike Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is a crucial concern in mountain biking. Small changes in pressure can dramatically impact performance and handling on the trail, and experienced mountain bikers regularly adjust pressure depending on terrain, conditions, riding style, and tire choice.

Because all of these variables are factors to consider, it’s nearly impossible to make a general recommendation for mountain bike tire pressure. Online calculators can help suggest a starting pressure based on equipment, weight, and conditions, but in the end, it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference and learning from experience. A good strategy is to treat the first few rides on a new setup or in new terrain as experiments. Carry a digital gauge, start with pressure on the higher side, and gradually let a few psi out/ add some pressure back in as you ride to experiment with what works and feels best. Check and record your pressure when you find the sweet spot and use this as your starting point for future rides.

There are a few general principles to keep in mind when finding the right pressure. Typically, the larger your tire, the lower the optimal pressure. Tires with thinner casings require higher pressure, as do heavier riders. Rocky terrain may also necessitate higher pressure to avoid flats, while lower pressures can be used in smooth, grassy, or muddy conditions. Finally, some riders like to use tire inserts, which provide more flat protection and allow a few psi reduction in pressure.

Tire Sizes for Other Cycling Disciplines

Gravel, cyclocross, and track cyclists also choose specific tire sizes and pressures to optimize performance.

Cyclocross Tire Sizes

Cyclocross bikes use 700c road wheels, so cyclocross tires are all designed for this standard diameter. In the past, most serious cyclocross racers used tubular tires, but tubeless tires have become increasingly popular over the last few seasons. Tires at CX events have traditionally been allowed up to a maximum width of 33mm, and UCI-governed events still impose this limit. Non-UCI races often allow larger tires, such as the 38mm maximum width allowed at USA Cycling masters, collegiate, and single speed national championships. Many local events impose no size restrictions at all—check your race’s rules to know for sure.

Gravel Tire Sizes

Gravel bikes used to be repurposed cyclocross bikes, but with dedicated gravel equipment introduced over the last few years tire options have greatly expanded. Most gravel bikes use 700c wheels, but 650b wheels are occasionally used for especially technical trail riding and bikepacking. Most new gravel bikes have clearance for tires ranging up to at least 42 or 45mm width, and some allow for even wider tires. Virtually all gravel riders use tubeless tires.

Gravel tires all balance speed and efficiency with offroad traction. Narrower tires with minimal treads are fastest on hardpack and paved surfaces but offer poor grip in loose corners. Wider tires with more aggressive tread patterns are more capable on loose terrain but roll much more slowly on smooth or paved roads. Gravel riders choose the width and tread pattern that offers the best balance for their local terrain, but may significantly adjust their tire choice and pressure for different conditions.

Track Tire Sizes

Like road bikes, track bikes use 700c wheels. But unlike on the road where slightly wider and softer tires are usually faster, on a smooth track harder and narrower tires have an advantage. For this reason track racers still prefer 21mm – 23mm wide tubular tires inflated to very high pressures—usually 150 psi or more on indoor tracks. Racers on rougher outdoor tracks don’t inflate their tires quite this high, but they still use much more pressure than they would on the road, with relatively narrow tires offering little in the way of puncture protection. 

Common Bike Tire Sizes

Tire Size Use/ Discipline ISO Designation
700c x 23mm – 32mm Road/Track 622
700c x 35mm – 50mm Gravel and Mixed surface 622
650b x 23mm – 25mm Small road bikes 584
650b x 45mm – 50mm Gravel and Bikepacking 584
26” x 2.1” – 2.3” Cross Country MTB 559
26” x 2.3” – 2.5” Trail 559
26” x 2.4” – 2.6” Enduro/ Downhill 559
27.5” x 2.1” – 2.3” Cross Country MTB/ Gravel 584
27.5” x 2.3” – 2.5” Trail 584
27.5” x 2.4” – 2.6” Enduro and Downhill 584
29” x 2.1” – 2.3” Cross Country MTB 622
29” x 2.3” – 2.5” Trail 622
29” x 2.4” – 2.6” Enduro and Downhill 622

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

Muscular Endurance, Time-Crunched Training, Hard Starts and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 343

12/25/2021 0:03

Amber and Nate are back! Join us for a discussion on what muscular endurance actually is, how to train it, and how it makes you a faster and more capable athlete, as well as discussions on time-crunched training, avoiding blowing up at the beginning of rides and much more.

More show notes and discussion in the TrainerRoad Forum.

Topics covered in this episode

  • Updates from Nate and Amber!
  • Update from Ivy on her Singlespeed podium at CX Nats!
  • Guide to using TrainerRoad to plan a season of training
  • What is muscular endurance and how does it make you more capable?
  • How to train as a new parent and/or with limited time
  • Rapid Fire questions
  • How to avoid blowing up at the beginning of rides and races
  • Training for long and short races/rides


Resources mentioned in this episode


Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Successful Athletes Podcast

Science of Getting Faster Podcast


For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

Five Indoor Drills to Make you a Faster Climber

12/23/2021 0:03

Growing your fitness isn’t the only way to become a faster climber—technique and form also play an essential role in your ability to climb efficiently. You can improve your climbing-specific skills with on-the-bike drills that target technique, form, strength, and efficiency.

Drills to Climb Faster

While fitness is an essential part of climbing, it’s not the only thing that goes into a climb. Your cadence, form, technique, and efficiency all play an important role in your ability to climb quickly. Fortunately, much like your fitness, all of these abilities are highly trainable. One of the most effective ways to improve your climbing abilities is with climbing-specific drills. Drills are on-the-bike exercises that use technique and repetition to target key skills and proper technique.

Among the drills available to cyclists, there are a few that are particularly relevant for climbing. These are drills that enhance pedaling efficiency, cadence, force, and body position. If you’re interested in improving these abilities we recommend adding a combination of endurance spinning drills, hill simulations, force intervals, standing drills, and power sprints to your climbing training.

Indoor Drills for Climbing

  1. Endurance Spinning Drills
  2. Hill Simulations
  3. Force Intervals
  4. Standing Climbing Drills
  5. Power Sprints

1. Endurance Spinning Drills

On longer sustained climbs, a higher cadence can be significantly more efficient. Pedaling at a high cadence requires less force, which puts less strain on your muscles. When you can turn the pedals with less strain on your muscles, it conserves energy and broadens your ability to sustain your aerobic power. Endurance spinning drills are designed to gradually improve your ability to spin a high cadence by incrementally challenging your current output.

To integrate speed endurance intervals into your workout, you’ll aim to maintain the power target prescribed in your workout while riding at an rpm higher than your usual cadence. This is typically 3-5 rpm above the cadence you usually ride at. If you don’t have a cadence sensor, you can do this drill by feel, pedaling just a bit more quickly than you’re used to. When you integrate these intervals into your workout the intervals should be at least five minutes long.

2. Force Intervals

When a steep climb requires you to generate a lot of power at a very low cadence it tends to put a bit of extra pressure on your knees. Force intervals address the unique demands of climbing at a low cadence by improving the resilience of your connective tissue and providing you a chance to control the lateral movement of your knees; especially at the top of the pedal stroke.

To complete this drill, find a gear that still allows you to hit your target power while spinning at a cadence between 50 and 60 rpm. When you’re doing this drill focus on the top and bottom of your pedal stroke by kicking over the top and pressing your foot downwards, and try to minimize any lateral movement in your knees. As noted earlier, high force/ low cadence exercises tend to put some strain on your knees. While this isn’t an issue for most athletes, if you have any pain or issues with your knees, feel free to skip this drill altogether and focus on knee movement during a less strainful workout.

3. Standing Climbing Drills

When you reach a short climb standing and pedaling out of the saddle can be the most effective way to reach the top. When you stand and pedal, you’re able to use the anaerobic power from your upper body to output more power into the pedals. With that said, the physical demands and complex techniques make it inherently less efficient. You can drastically improve your efficiency pedaling out of the saddle by integrating standing drills into your workouts.

To complete a standing drill, wait until you reach an interval that allows you to maintain the power target out of the saddle. When you’re ready to start the interval exit the saddle and quickly wind up. This drill is all about control and technique, so focus on winding up while maintaining good form. Remember that the transition from seated to standing is where energy, power, and momentum are often lost, so try to focus on moving in and out of the saddle as smoothly as possible whenever you complete these drills. Initially, these drills should only be about ten seconds long. As you progress and improve, however, you should incrementally increase the amount of time you spend out of the saddle.

4. Hill Simulations

Hill simulations are Sweet Spot and Tempo intervals performed with a raised front wheel. By raising your front wheel three to six inches above your rear wheel you can emulate the slight demands that different gradients place on body position. While there’s no conclusive evidence that this drill engages the muscles differently than traditional indoor intervals, the opportunity to dial in body position is valuable. Much like improving your cadence will conserve energy by helping to prevent muscular strain, creating a good, relaxed body position can prevent discomfort and wasted energy for a more efficient climb.

To perform these drills find a sturdy platform that you can use to securely raise your front wheel three inches above your rear wheel, for the duration of the workout. As you grow accustomed to completing these types of drills then you can incrementally increase the height of the front wheel. With that said, we don’t recommend exceeding a six-inch difference between your front and your back wheel.

When you start these intervals focus on the position of your back as well as any tension you might be holding in your back and your shoulders. Are you maintaining a flat back? Are your shoulders and arms relaxed? Little adjustments like this can make a big difference on a long climb. Once you’ve found a good body position you can shift your focus to your pedal stroke. Try to focus on the top and back quadrants of your pedal stroke. Focus on lifting your knees upward and then gently kicking your feet forward. When you’re seated try to maintain a cadence above 80rpm. If you attempt any of these drills standing, 75 rpm is a good goal.

Advanced Hill Simulations

Advanced hill simulations are the same drills performed during Threshold workouts. We only recommend completing advanced hill simulations when you’ve established threshold fitness, and grown comfortable with the demands of riding with an elevated front wheel during your tempo and sweet spot workouts.

5. Strength Sprints

Similar to force intervals, strength sprints are drills designed to help you turn over a big gear and quickly recruit as many muscle fibers as possible. These drills are particularly effective for athletes who want to be able to repeatedly conquer challenging short and punchy climbs. When you practice this drill you’ll begin at a near stop. Your goal is to pedal as gracefully as possible from this near stop in twelve pedal strokes, without exceeding 90 rpm.

While this drill may emphasize strength, its main focus is still proper form. Focus on maintaining the form that you’ve been practicing in the other drills. As you stand up to pedal, hold onto your handlebars and drive each foot as hard as you can without compromising technique. For full detail on proper sprinting form read: Sprinting 101: How to Improve Your Cycling Sprint Technique.

Adaptive Training

Get the right workout, every time
with training that adapts to you.

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Five Tips for Indoor Cycling Drills

While you won’t need much to begin integrating drills into your workouts, there are a few additional things to keep in mind when you add drills to indoor cycling workouts. You can follow these tips to help ensure success during your indoor cycling drill sessions.

1. Start With Lower Intensity Workouts

Like anything new, drills have a learning curve to them. When you first begin, it can feel a bit awkward or unnatural to integrate drills into your workout. This comes with time! Start by integrating some of the simpler drills, like endurance spinning drills, into your low-intensity endurance workouts. As you grow more comfortable with drills you can begin to integrate more dynamic drills into your higher intensity workouts.

2. Prioritize Quality over Quantity

The purpose of indoor drills is to progress your technique and reinforce good form. If you’re feeling fatigued, or the workout is pushing up against your physical limits, it might not be a good time to add drills. Add drills when you have the mental bandwidth to take on an additional task, and the focus to reinforce proper technique. If you’re doing drills and you feel yourself losing focus or struggling to maintain the right form, switch to an easier drill or resume pedaling normally. It’s better to complete a fraction of the drill at the highest quality than the whole drill at a lower quality.

3. Add Drills When they Compliment the Workout

Some workouts are better suited for certain drills than others. The best time to add a drill is when the drill compliments the structure and objective of your scheduled workout. For example, power sprints pair really well with a workout that integrates Anerpobic capacity intervals or sprints. When you’re feeling up for it, all you have to do is line your strength sprint drills up with the high-intensity intervals during that workout.

4. Enable Workout Text

While you’re welcome to integrate as many drills as you’d like at your own discretion, some workouts are already set up with drills through workout text. Workout Text is a feature in TrainerRoad that provides information and instructions during the workout. Not every workout has workout text, and not every workout with workout text incorporates drills. However, when they do it can be a simple and easy way to get some drills into your workout.

5. Adjust Your Resistance Control Accordingly

If you’re training with a smart trainer there are certain drills that aren’t compatible with Erg mode. Specifically, if you’re using a smart trainer and you have it in Erg mode, you may want to turn it to resistance mode for drills that impact cadence and power. For example, drills like endurance spinning drills and force intervals can be challenging to do in ERG mode.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

10 Tips for a Successful Winter Training Season

12/21/2021 0:03

For many cyclists, the winter season offers an opportunity to reset and begin a new season of training. Here are ten tips to make the most of your winter training.

1. Set Process Goals

For many cyclists, the winter training season is a time to start planning events and choosing goals. Goals not only provide direction for your training but also provide motivation. Typically, we’re inclined to focus on outcome goals, like event results. However, these types of goals can sometimes overshadow the small and critical steps to achieving them. 

Adaptive Training

Get the right workout, every time
with training that adapts to you.

Check Out TrainerRoad

Setting process goals is an incredibly powerful strategy that can help you achieve your outcome goals. Process goals are the things that you can do on a regular basis to achieve your desired outcome. They provide daily benchmarks and successes while also allowing you to track your progress. For more on some goals to focus on, check out 5 Useful Process Goals to Motivate Your Winter Cycling Training.

2. Focus on Consistency

Consistency is the key to getting faster. But it’s easier said than done. Between the holidays, work, and life, there’s plenty that can hinder your ability to stay on track. One idea is to use the winter training season to create a routine that works for you. Routines help reinforce good habits while reducing your cognitive load. 

Another great tip for consistent training is to start instead of skip. It’s better to start a workout, and only make it through a small portion than to skip a workout. That said, sometimes you might be overly fatigued and need a day off. In that case, listen to your body. When motivation is low and you don’t want to get on the bike, just start the first fifteen minutes of the workout. More often than not you’ll feel better once you start going. You might even complete the whole workout. But regardless of whether or not you make it through the entire thing, the habit you’re building is getting on the bike.

3. Pick the Right Training Volume

Often, cyclists can fall into the trap of more is better. If a small amount of training is working, then increasing volume would be even better, without questioning whether it’s the most sustainable or predictive way. In reality, every athlete is unique with different lifestyles, goals, and schedules. The best volume for you is one that fits with each of these so that you can consistently complete workouts.

TrainerRoad offers three different plan volumes: low, mid, and high. While the hourly commitment can vary, on average, the low-volume plans have three structured workouts per week, the mid-volume plans have five, and the high-volume plans have six. If you are new to structured training, we recommend starting with a low-volume plan. Low volume is also great if you want to include unstructured outside rides over the winter months.

4. Build A Plan

Typically, we think of the winter training season as the time to invest in building aerobic base fitness. Although commonly done in late fall and early winter, base training is not tied to a specific time of year—it’s connected to your goal event. 

The best way to sort out what type of training is best for you is to use Plan Builder. Using your experience, recent training load, and schedule, Plan Builder will create the optimal progressive training plan for you. With that said, because building a robust base will pay dividends, regardless of discipline, base is never a bad place to start your season.

Not ready for a training plan? TrainNow gives you the flexibility to complete structured training, when and how you want, with intelligently recommended workouts.

5. Add Strength Training

Every cyclist can benefit from strength training and winter can be one of the best times to begin. With the overall reduction in training intensity during the offseason or base training, there’s little risk of strength training compromising the quality of your rides. If you’re new to resistance training, start with bodyweight exercises. This will help you hone in on your form and will prepare your joints for additional weight later. Aim to do these two or three times a week. 

A cyclist’s strength training program is different than a bodybuilder’s. You’ll want to avoid lifting to failure with high repetitions. Using heavy weights and low reps is the way to build strength without increasing muscle mass. But you have to work your way up to using heavier weights. Start slow and use a weight that is easily manageable while you maintain good form.

Once you’re ready, you can increase your weight. A good middle ground is three sets of five repetitions of bilateral exercises like the back squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press. Give yourself 3-4 minutes between sets to recover. For more on strength training, check out Strength Training for Cyclists: 10 Exercises for Cycling Weight Training

6. Maximize Your Nutrition

Nailing your cycling nutrition is one of the easiest ways to improve your performance. You need sufficient, high-quality nutrition to fuel your workouts, aid your recovery, and promote your body’s physical adaptations. When you’re not fueling properly, you’re shortchanging the training process and your body’s ability to work harder and get faster. To keep it simple, you can think of it in four main categories: Carbs, Quantity, High Quality, and Hydration. If you can consistently check these four boxes during your training, racing, and recovery, you’ll get faster, and you’ll feel more energized while doing it.

7. Dial Your Recovery

It’s easy to think of recovery as secondary to training, or as a side-effect of the hard work you do on the bike. But it’s the most directly impactful part of the training process, and when you actually get faster and stronger. Improving the quality of your sleep tops the list of recovery hacks. Anything you can do to sleep better and longer can help you get faster. Tracking your sleep and sticking to a routine is helpful, as your body naturally prefers a predictable sleep schedule. Additionally, adjust the temperature in your room down slightly and avoid looking at computers or phones for about 90 minutes before bed.

8. Time to Experiment

Winter can offer a low-stakes opportunity to experiment with several areas. Every athlete is different and sometimes that means using a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you. Perhaps you want to try out a new saddle or make some bike fit adjustments. Or maybe you want to test different nutrition strategies or products. While there are some winter cycling events, the vast majority of them take place between spring and fall—meaning you can experiment without worrying about priority events. If you decide to test out new things, just remember to start slow and give your body time to adjust.

9. Gear Up

Winter doesn’t mean you have to stop riding outdoors. But you want to make sure you’ve got the right clothing. So if the weather permits and you’re headed outside, just remember that layers are your best friend. These can include leg warmers, arm warmers, a base layer, and a vest or jacket. And don’t forget gloves and shoe covers.

10. Focus on growth

Cultivating a growth mindset can help you achieve your goals and develop a healthy relationship with training. This isn’t limited to training metrics like FTP or power-to-weight ratio. A growth mindset ingrains the idea that everything can be a learning experience that leads to constant improvement. So when you have a success, identify what went right and how you can replicate it. And when things don’t go well, admit the things you can improve

To develop a growth mindset focusing on your process goals. Tracking your process goals in a training journal or on your Calendar is a fantastic way to monitor your progress and a helpful resource for reflection.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

5 Useful Process Goals to Motivate Your Winter Cycling Training

12/17/2021 0:02

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on what you’ve achieved over the past 12 months and set your sights on what comes next. While it’s only natural to set some lofty goals for the coming season, try spending a month this winter focused on small aspects of training you can fully control. You’ll lay the foundation for big things with manageable steps, and help establish habits to ensure success long into the future. 

Outcome Vs. Process 

Endurance athletes are driven by outcome goals. These big goals motivate us to spend hours training each week, but they can be derailed by things outside of your control, like illness, flat tires, or crashes. Focus only on outcome goals, and many months of successful hard work can be overshadowed by a split second of bad luck.

Outcome goals can also obscure the crucial small steps it takes to actually achieve them, which can become goals in and of themselves. These are called process goals, and achieving them is entirely within your control. Process goals can help you recognize success every day with a steady series of measurable and meaningful milestones.

This winter, keep your outcome goals in the back of your mind while you spend a month focused solely on process goals. Our 5 recommended process goals will help you develop productive habits that can lead to big things, especially with a little luck and hard work on your side.

5 Winter Process Goals

  1. Complete as many of your scheduled workouts as you can.
  2. Fuel and hydrate every workout.
  3. Follow a sleep routine.
  4. Strength train twice a week.
  5. Make one day a week truly restful.

Goal 1: Complete As Many of Your Scheduled Workouts As Possible

Consistent cyclists get faster. In fact, our data shows that consistency is the number one factor in FTP improvement. This winter, set a process goal of completing as many of your training plan’s scheduled workouts as possible.

But there’s an important caveat here. Consistent training needs to be sustainable and doesn’t require perfection—that’s why we say to complete “as many as possible” and not “all” workouts. Sometimes, you’re simply too tired, too busy, or too lacking in motivation to train, and that’s ok! This goal isn’t about stress or guilt, but keep it in the back of your mind when you’re on the fence about getting on the bike. If you can complete your workout, do it, and be proud of your hard work. If you can’t, accept it and get motivated to come back rested and ready next time.

Goal 2: Fuel and Hydrate Every Workout

Work requires energy. It’s basic physics, but too many of us overlook how important this concept is to training. Simply put, if you want a quality workout, your body needs fuel

It’s easy to make this complicated with things like glucose-to-fructose ratios, carb cycling, and kilojoule counts, and these details are absolutely worth fine-tuning.  But for this process goal, let’s keep things simple: fuel and hydrate every workout.

What does this mean? For short workouts of an hour or less, it means making sure you’ve eaten some quality carbohydrates within the last few hours. The same holds true for longer workouts, but take in some easily digestible sugars (like gels or fruit) every 30 minutes during these sessions, too. And no matter the workout length, hydrate throughout and ingest some carbs and protein afterward to jump-start your recovery.

There’s a time and place for getting into the fine details of nutrition. But setting the simple goal of fueling and hydrating every workout is an impactful and easy place to begin.

Goal 3: Follow a Sleep Routine

Along with fueling, sleep is probably the most overlooked and underappreciated component of getting faster. Just a single night of poor sleep can have a measurable impact on how difficult a workout feels, while chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of illness, blunt your recovery, and increase the chance of injury. Unfortunately, jobs, family, and other everyday stresses can make getting enough sleep easier said than done, but you can improve your chances for a good rest by implementing a sleep routine

There are a few basic parts to a good sleep routine. Schedule a consistent 8-hour window that matches your natural rhythm, and do your best to make this non-negotiable. Avoid looking at your phone and other screens for about 90 minutes before bed. Avoid evening caffeine and alcohol, and don’t eat or work out too close to bedtime. 

Almost no one gets a perfect sleep every night in the real world. But if you work on improving your routine for a month, you raise the odds of getting quality rest—and quality training.

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Goal 4: Strength Train Twice a Week

The term “strength training” sounds antithetical to cycling, but strength training for endurance sports isn’t bodybuilding; it’s about improving your functional strength for better performance on the bike and increased resistance to injury. Every athlete can benefit, and winter is the perfect time to begin adding some basic strength work to your cycling training. For this process goal, commit to at least two short workouts each week.

Start with simple bodyweight exercises that target your core, legs, and posterior chain. Planks, squats, and spiderman pushups are some of our favorites; next, try jump squats or box jumps. You can begin adding some additional weight as you gain proficiency over time, with the ultimate goal of incorporating some high weight/low repetition lifts. This type of strength training avoids the increase in mass associated with bodybuilding while improving your muscular capabilities to generate power.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Begin simple and light, twice a week. It only takes a few minutes and doesn’t even require equipment!

Goal 5: Make One Day Each Week Truly Restful

Rest days are as important to your training as hard workouts, giving your body the chance to recover and actually get faster. This is why training plans always schedule a few days off-bike each week and intersperse easier weeks into your plan once a month or so. 

But many athletes are unwittingly hindering their own progress with poor recovery. Manual labor, work-related stress, and bad sleep don’t make you faster, but they do burden your body and wear you down. If you spend your rest days stressed out and on your feet, you won’t fully recover, and your training won’t be as effective as it should be.

This winter, focus on making one day a week truly and honestly restful. It can be logistically challenging with jobs, families, and the other demands we all face each day in our real lives. But avoid that yard work, schedule that stressful meeting for another day, and let yourself spend a little extra time on the couch. It’s amazing how hard it can be to take it easy, but the benefits of full recovery are worth the effort. Consider this permission to relax!

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

Mentality Tips from Pros, Sprints vs. Endurance, Training Metrics and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 342

12/17/2021 0:02

Mentality is often what separates winners from the rest in pro fields, and while amateurs may not be able to train like pros, they can think like one. Join pro riders Hannah Finchamp and Alex Wild as we discuss strategies of how to get into the mindset of a winner, how to do sprint training amidst endurance training, their favorite training metrics and more.

More show notes and discussion in the TrainerRoad Forum.

Topics covered in this episode

  • 0:00 Welcome!
  • 0:11 Intro
  • TrainerRoad athletes winning National and World Championships
  • 6:34 Hannah’s cyclocross tips
  • 36:30 Mentality tips from the pros
  • 57:52 Rapid Fire Questions
  • 1:08:11 How to mix sprint training with endurance training
  • 1:18:58 How to pace long events with lots of short climbs
  • 1:29:37 The hosts’ favorite training and racing metrics


Resources mentioned in this episode


Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Successful Athletes Podcast

Science of Getting Faster Podcast


For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

Categories:TrainerRoad Blog

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