TrainerRoad’s Ask a Cycling Coach podcast gives you the chance to get answers to your cycling and triathlon training questions with USAC certified coaches Chad Timmerman, Jonathan Lee and special guests. Check out a few questions we answered in our latest episode with special guest and TrainerRoad CEO, Nate Pearson.
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How should I incorporate weightlifting into my training?
Weight training for cyclists is a contentious issue for many reasons. While it’s been suggested as something that can combat the common onset of osteoporosis in cyclists, it’s something each athlete needs to consider on a case-by-case basis. Weight training to build strength requires following proper technique. If this is overlooked, it can put you further behind than it does to move your cycling fitness and strength forward.
There are tons of different opinions on how to train with weights for cyclists. But, one thing everyone agrees on is that replacing rest days with weight-training is a bad idea. If you do choose to train with weights, combine it with your high-intensity interval days.
This is good for a few reasons.
In most cases, your high-intensity interval workouts will be shorter than lower-intensity workouts. This gives you more time to train later in the day.
Most importantly, combining weight training and interval workouts in the same day allows you to completely recover on your rest days. Recovery is crucial to building fitness in every situation, but it’s even more important when you add weight training into the mix.
Finally, listen to your body — this is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when weight training. As always, start out small and measure the effect it has on your fitness and overall wellbeing, then make adjustments as you go.
What is the best pre-race, mid-race and post-race nutrition?
This is another one of the most commonly debated topics in cycling. Nutrition is a very personal aspect of training because everyone’s body is different. Therefore, changes to your eating habits should start small and be measured accordingly. This dose/response tactic is an effective way to manage your nutrition (not to mention the rest of your training regimen).
Pre-, mid- and post-race nutrition are commonly accepted yet widely refuted. The most important part of nailing your nutrition strategy is to separate circumstances and eliminate variables, all while measuring how your body responds to the changes you make.
Tracking your food intake, sleep and stress levels on a daily basis will help isolate how your pre-, mid- and post-race nutrition is affecting your body. The best environment to experiment with different on-the-bike nutrition is on the trainer. You can control more variables as well as measure your performance more precisely than outdoors.
A great way to do this is by changing your nutrition throughout a recurring weekly workout. For example, if you regularly do a workout with six VO2 max intervals, analyze your power output and heart rate from one week to the next. Then, look for changes in your performance from one week to the next based off what you eat.
In addition to this, keep a close watch on any symptoms of gastrointestinal distress from your new diet. Plus, remember that any change in diet, sleep or stress can also affect your training — not just diet.
What should my cadence be?
Similar to the previous topics, cadence varies from person to person as well. Your cadence may vary significantly from your friends and competitors based on two things:
- Your physiology.
- Your specific cycling discipline.
Considering these two factors will help you determine the range for your ideal cadence.
Many people suggest riding at 85-95 RPM. While this is a fairly reliable recommendation, there are plenty of instances where this doesn’t apply. Steep climbs or high speed descents will make it difficult to stay within this RPM range, but knowing the effects that these situations will have on your body is half the battle.
Slower cadences place greater stress on your muscles fibers, in turn causing excess fatigue. On the contrary, an excessively high cadence taxes your cardiovascular system — causing unnecessary tension in your body and robbing power from the muscles you need to pedal your bike.
In most cases, new cyclists will find it difficult to maintain anything above 90 RPM without bouncing. This in turn causes them to spin more slowly. Fortunately, this changes with time as riders build increased muscle control and core strength.
As riders build stability and comfort at a wide variety of cadences, they’re able to ride within their limits. They’re able to pass stress from their low-cadence, musculoskeletal system to their high-cadence, cardiovascular system across various course profiles.
It’s important to consider that the best cyclists are efficient in a wide range of RPMs — no matter their cycling discipline. You can see this in action in criterium races, mountain bike racing and cyclocross. They all demand surges, steep pitches and efficiency riding in varied terrains.
However, even if you don’t participate in these disciplines, every cyclist can benefits from exploring their cadence limits.
We answered a lot of questions in this week’s Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. You can learn more about these topics with the resources below:
- What to do or change when picking structured training back up after time off
- How to train for a sportive or gran fondo
- In the saddle and out of the saddle efforts during FTP tests
- How to train before your training plan is scheduled to begin
- How to increase five-minute power while maintaining steady-state power
- How to make the most of recovery days
- How to use VO2 Max data with power-based training
If you have a question that you’d like to ask Coach Chad, submit your question here. We’ll do our best to answer them on the next episode of the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast.