Every cyclist has opinions about the most effective training method, but most would agree that any training program should include building strength and endurance. If you’ve been emphasizing strength but neglecting your stamina, here are a few suggestions on how to improve your road cycling endurance.
The easiest advice to give about building endurance is to just say, “Ride.” Ride a lot, ride long distances, and ride for a long time. Long, low-intensity rides are supposed to be the magic formula for endurance. However, not every cyclist has a schedule that permits daily road rides of five to six hours for three or four months running. Interval training might be an answer. With interval training, you mix longer, lower-intensity exercise with bursts of high-intensity training. This method has benefits at the cellular level, encouraging your body to produce more mitochondria in the cells. The mitochondria convert oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate, the chemical motor of cellular metabolism. High-intensity training strengthens the mitochondria.
An added advantage of interval training is that the aerobic benefits continue even during recovery time—your heart rate stays up as you rest, further working the cardiovascular system. Two sessions of interval training per week—involving several sets of high-intensity work lasting 30 seconds up to five minutes, followed by recovery time—can improve endurance.
Map out your training plan by days of the week, alternating slower, easier, and shorter rides with longer rides and a few days of real distance. Recovery is critical to this method, so you do have to take a day off—an entire day of rest allows your body to recover and prepare itself for the longer rides. Make your bike your friend, and play nice with it every day. If you’re serious about improving your road cycling endurance, you should be serious about your bike. Reward yourself for training hard by getting a bike worth training on. You can find versatile Marin bikes online in versions that work for commuting, road rides, or mountain biking, along with other outstanding brands to consider as you build your endurance for challenging road rides.
Resistance builds endurance. Most cyclists would naturally prefer a calm day or a day when the wind is behind them, but riding into the wind provides resistance that can help you build endurance. No one likes doing it, but it makes you stronger! If the weather is just too awful, head indoors for a stationary ride at increased resistance.
What to eat and when to eat it is another area that can turn cyclists into walking encyclopedias of differing opinions. Disputes about how to improve your road cycling endurance can get deep into the kitchen cupboards. Various cycling magazines will tell you to eat more carbs several hours before a ride, eat a good breakfast, or even train your body to burn fat efficiently by riding without breakfast a few days a week. Ultimately, how you decide to fuel your body is up to you and what works best. Everyone is a little different and it's worth experimenting. You should base your diet on your own body’s health, the training program that works for you, and your doctor’s advice, especially if you have underlying health issues that got you on the bike in the first place.
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