How do you balance gym workouts with enough "time in the saddle" to finish these events so strongly?


By: Gym Jones

I am a 44 year old who tries to stay in good physical condition. I played multiple sports in high school and one year of college football before becoming serious about my education. For several years I was involved with bicycle racing finishing the 109 mile tour de Tucson in just over 5 hours; however, my training on the bike left me feeling inadequate in other areas. I began circuit training 2-3 years ago and now follow a workout schedule based on shorter but intense workouts which are designed by a trainer at my gym or picked up from etc. I recently found your site and became very intrigued. I noticed that you have recently been doing some cycling races and quite well I may add. How do you balance the workouts to get long training rides or enough "time in the saddle" to finish these events so strongly? I would really like to continue bike racing events but I like the strength and overall fitness I have gained with the circuit workouts.


Tricky stuff ... and how you address it depends on how well you want too perform at a given, somewhat contradictory task. If you want to have endurance, power-endurance, and power available at the same time you must accept performing at (generally) 80% or less of how you could play if you specialized. If you want to have a respectable level of sport-specific endurance, or true deep fitness you must give up some capacity elsewhere.

Last year I used the bike for cross training and remained true to the ideal of all-around fitness. I wasn't willing to become a human question mark in order to ride the bike well. I performed as expected... this year I was willing to give up a certain amount of general strength and power in order to ride the bike better, and received the results to go with it.

Three solutions:
1) Try to address all fitness characteristics along the continuum. Accept reduced performance everywhere.

2) Build a big, specific endurance base and then sacrifice it as you sharpen it and train some power back into your system. This is more of an annual to two-year approach.

3) Take a seasonal view, build a big strength and power base during off-season (while not neglecting the mileage needed to maintain the previous season's endurance fitness), stack interval training on top of that while easing back volume though not the intensity of the power training, add in more and more mileage until the season begins. Compete enough to maintain high degree of sport-specific fitness. Train strength/power/power-endurance characteristics in the gym 1-2 days a week during the cycling season (only maintenance level of intensity/volume, i.e. the bare minimum), enough to carry into off-season strength/power emphasis without losing so much that it's demoralizing.

The specifics are another story, and largely individual. The higher the level the more specific the requirement, not only in movement but also intensity. The lower the level the more a generalist approach is acceptable. So back to square one, it all depends on how well you want to perform.

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