TrainerRoad’s slogan Get Faster reflects our one and only mission: to make you a faster cyclist with science-backed training. But let’s imagine things were different. Let’s pretend that for some reason you didn’t want to raise your FTP, increase your endurance, or reach your goals at your next event. Imagine your goal was instead to get slower, and you wanted some proven methods to help you get worse at riding your bike.
Well, look no further because you’re in luck. We present to you TrainerRoad’s top ten ways to become a slower cyclist.
10. Neglect Your Equipment
You’ve probably heard the saying “There are no fast bikes, only fast riders.” While this is certainly true in a general sense, there are times when equipment can make the difference. For this reason, a great way to get slower is to ignore regular maintenance of your bike. If you’re looking to hold yourself back, definitely don’t follow our Bike Maintenance Checklist for Indoor Training. Also, be sure to save any maintenance you do attempt until the night before your big race, when you can most effectively discover problems you don’t have time to fix.
Equipment neglect also includes how this equipment works with your body. Be careful not to get a professional bike fit for risk of being able to ride too efficiently and powerfully. Never train in the position you’ll actually race in, and most of all, make sure to set your bike up in an intolerably uncomfortable position to look cool on Instagram. Slam that stem!
9. Pretend You’re a Pro
Have you ever looked at top pro riders’ Strava accounts? Chances are, they train a lot more than you do. Tour De France winner Egan Bernal sometimes rides as much as 37 hours a week. Try riding like a pro for a while and see what happens. Your body isn’t accustomed to this type of workload, you aren’t paid to train, and you probably have a job and family commitments, so get ready to run yourself into the ground. While you’re at it, be sure to ignore the fact that TrainerRoad’s low and mid-volume plans are effective ways to prepare for big events. You’ve got a Tour De France to win!
8. Overlook Diet and Nutrition
It’s impossible to get a good workout without fueling it properly. Good carbohydrate intake is crucial, otherwise your muscles will lack the energy they need to perform. For athletes looking to get slower, not eating enough on the bike is low-hanging fruit for performance declines. Once you get off the bike, another great way to set yourself back is to eat poor quality foods loaded with sugar and fat. If you’re lucky, you might even trigger some serious metabolic problems that will hinder your performance into the future. That’s what we call long-term planning.
7. Always Ride Hard
You may have noticed that all TrainerRoad training plans include rest weeks, as well as occasional easier workouts and days off. This is because structured training depends on recovery. If you’re looking to get slower, you’d be well-advised to ignore this formula, and ride hard, all the time. Rest days? You don’t need them. Moderate workouts? Not for you. Ride as hard as you can and do lots of all-out efforts and before you know it, you’ll burn out and get slower, guaranteed.
6. Skip Base Training
To use a tired analogy, fitness is like a tall building, and base training is the building’s foundation: the durable, solid footing on which all future gains are situated. If poor performance is your goal, skipping base is a fantastic place to begin. Missing out on the benefits of aerobic adaptation will almost definitely hamper your abilities, and your Vo2 max might even decline, as well. This approach has the added benefit of a potentially delayed effect, as the more intensity you pile on over time, the more brittle your fitness will become until it cracks entirely. Nice!
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5. Avoid Training Specificity
TrainerRoad uses a proven Base-Build-Specialty cycle in all of our Plans. These plans use training specificity to match your event’s demands and maximize your abilities. If you want to get worse at cycling, try abandoning this formula in the name of getting slower. Your season will stagnate, and with any luck your fitness will plateau and gradually decline as your event approaches. Try keeping your goals vague and your training nonspecific to avoid getting better at anything in particular. You won’t be a jack of all trades, but you’ll certainly be a master of none.
4. Train Inconsistently
Structured training is all about sticking with a plan, and consistent training makes you faster, so the easiest way to derail your training plan is to ignore it. Ride hard on rest days, take random weeks off, and chase as many Strava segments as you can. For extra effect, follow a higher-volume training plan than you can handle and skip lots of workouts. If you’re pressed for time it’s normally better to follow a low-volume plan and add extra rides, but since you don’t want to get better at cycling, we don’t recommend that approach.
3. Never Test Your FTP
Your FTP, or functional threshold power, is the benchmark by which cycling fitness is judged. Testing your FTP regularly ensures your training keeps up with your abilities, so by avoiding this process you’ll be more likely to ride too easy or too hard. This can be challenging, as the Ramp Test is built into every TrainerRoad plan and is so quick and easy you might be tempted to give it a try every 4 to 6 weeks. Evidence shows that if you want to get worse at cycling, you shouldn’t. Athletes who test their FTP regularly see dramatically improved results and tend to get faster, and we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?
2. Don’t Listen to Your body
Sometimes, your body simply doesn’t respond to training the way you expect. Your workouts might seem harder, your FTP might decline, and the results of your efforts feel harder-won. In this case, normal advice would be to take some time off and rest, but this isn’t the time for normal advice. If you’re looking to ruin your training, ignore those warning signs and tell your legs to deal with it. Continue doing what isn’t working, and consider training even harder to pour some salt in the proverbial wound. Do this long enough and you might reach a point of overtraining, requiring months or years to recover. Hey, you said your goal was to get slower, didn’t you?
1. Expect it to be Easy
There’s no way around it- training is tough. It doesn’t matter how much experience, external motivation, or fancy equipment you have, at some point you’ll push up against the limitations of your mental and physical abilities. There are lots of strategies to find motivation for hard workouts, and the mental strength to surmount challenges can differentiate a champion from the bunch. So if you’re really looking to get slower, do the opposite and expect the process to be easy. Assume every workout will feel good, every improvement will be dramatic, and every race will be a success. When it all boils down to it, if you’re not ready to push yourself, you won’t succeed. If failure is your goal, fortune favors the timid.
We know TrainerRoad is the best way to get faster, but there are any number of easy ways to ruin your training and get slower. Let me know what I missed in the comments and let’s all learn from our mistakes!
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.
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