The power of a training plan!

The power of a training programme is in its ability to make you ride faster on the bike. If designed correctly, monitored and changed when needed, it will increase your fitness level and raise you up close to your genetic limits.

It should gently increases your fitness level in a way that does not lead you into an over trained state (click here of more information on over-training). It should also take into account your life outside training and be tailored to the time that you have available to train. The whole plan must be developed around a goal that you wish to achieve focusing all training towards that goal.

The training programme will assist in the prescription of training telling you how hard to ride (through watts or heart rate), when to ride, how long to ride, and when to rest. The training sessions are based upon the riders’ current strengths and weaknesses and aims to improve the latter more as you are ‘only as strong as your weakest link’. Any training programme should have a clear goal for each training session and should provide an increase in the training stimulus either in intensity, frequency or duration. It must also be periodised to allow volume and intensity to change through-out the year so that you can peak for you over all goals. The aim should be to make every training session count and is the first key principle of a training programme.

The training programmes should be monitored in two ways, the first being the recording of every training session via a ‘training diary’. This should be filled out through-out the day allowing your coach to monitor the amount of and the adaptations to training. The intensity, frequency and duration of training should then be modified to take this adaptation into account at a monthly, bi-monthly or weekly basis. The training diary is the second three key principles of the training programme and is one of the most under-estimated parts of the plan. If riders fail to fill it out and return it to the coach the coach will not know how to change the programme and the rider will not adapt correctly.

The second way of monitoring the effectiveness of the training programme is to perform a physiological test at regular intervals. This testing forms the bench mark for monitoring the physiological adaptation to training over time. Regular maximal and sub-maximal testing will indicate if the intensity in the training programme needs to be modified to take into account any increase in fitness over the preceding period. These tests can be performed in a physiological test laboratory (usually found at most universities) or at home (this will however reduce the accuracy of the test) using a turbo trainer, wheel or cranks that measures watts. This testing of the athlete is the final key principle of the training programme.

When these three key principles (prescription, daily monitoring and regular testing) are prescribed monitored and modified the training programme will assist in increasing your fitness levels and performance on the bike.

Dan Bennett

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