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21 November 2021

The Pro Cyclists' Guide To Winter Training


6 SunGod cyclists, coaches and teams share the essential elements for the perfect winter week on the bike...

The Christmas countdown is ON. The past summer of racing and riding is but a distant memory and spring feels like an age away. Staying focused really is the name of the game at this time of year when it comes to training. To help out with this, we've asked some of our pro cyclists and teams to share what they'll be including in their training plans in the coming weeks.

Once you're armed with your SunGod road cycling sunglasses, it's time to elevate your training and lay the best groundwork possible this festive season...

1. Make a weekly training plan

Lawrence Carpenter

Ex pro cyclist turned YouTuber Lawrence Carpenter has dedicated his life to exploring the world on two wheels. From ultra-racing to bikepacking, Lawrence keeps the intensity high and the need to be organised in his training approach is essential...

“The key to any productive week training is to have a plan! Just sitting down and planning how training will look for you on a weekly basis can get you a long way. Breaking it down will reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed by quantity or falling into the rut of repeating the same old sessions. For example, turbo sessions during the week will add some intensity and they’re perfect when you’re short on time. At the weekend when you have more time, consider doing some of the longer base miles. What’s more, taking the time to plan it all out will help you figure out how to strike a more healthy balance between training and the other things in life.”

Follow Lawrence: @bikerlawrence

2. Keep sessions short but focussed

Francis Cade

Ex-pro cyclist turned cycling vlogger, Francis is renowned for his quirky exploration of cycling culture. Spending all summer on the road means that winter is precious for Francis when it comes to putting down the groundwork for the months ahead.

“For me, the next 6 weeks are about keeping the sessions short but focussed. For example, I’ll work on efficiency and consistency on a timed loop, or set up some good old fashioned hill reps. Remember you can always supplement this with extra volume indoors and it's not worth setting yourself back after crashing on ice or having your session suffer from letting your core temperature drop too much. Focus on a few small attainable goals such as reducing your splits during these sessions each week to gain real tangible results!”

Explore with Francis: @francisccade

3. Blend running into your regime

David Walters – Bianchi Hunt Morvelo

David is the owner and manager of Women’s Elite Cycling team Bianchi Dama. One of the UK’s top female cycling teams, the 8 riders from Bianchi Dama balance elite sport alongside full-time careers.

“Low intensity, low volume but regular runs can be a very good addition to a cyclists' weekly programme at this time as year. Why do I recommend it? Improved cardiovascular fitness, bone density and strengthening of connective tissue are all benefits from adding 1or 2 runs into the weekly plan. Go easy, walk-run-walk intervals are a great option. Or better still, hit the trails and enjoy off the beaten track countryside if you can. On top of all this, running is a great way to keep some variation in the training and clears the mind!”

Follow Bianchi Hunt Morvelo: @bianchihuntmorvelo

4. Structure your indoor rides

Ellie Salthouse

Australian Pro Triathlete Ellie Salthouse is the queen of making every second matter. Having won 17 x Half Distance titles, she seems to have the recipe for success when it comes to training…

“Riding indoors forms a huge part of my weekly regime at this time of year. I'll try not to forsake outdoor riding entirely but at least 2 turbo sessions a week can have a great impact in winter. It's true, turbo training can be extremely boring at times, so be sure to build structure into these rides instead of just switching off and giving in to mindless pedalling. To make a turbo session really count, include intervals and efforts in your sessions. Programs like Zwift can be a great tool to prevent boredom and can provide that feeling of ‘racing’ and group riding that we all crave in the off-season. These programmes will also allow you to follow a tailored training plan geared towards helping you achieve your summer goals which will bring the ultimate structure to the indoor riding.”

Train with Ellie: @elliesalthouse1

5. Allow time for strength and conditioning

Ben Kersten - ARA Pro Racing

Co-founder of UCI Continental Professional team ARA – Pro Racing Sunshine Coast, Ben is dedicated to producing the best cycling athletes in the industry. Based out of University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, the team are all balancing cycling with studying meaning every session is carefully structured to bring max benefit – year round.

“A weekly strength and conditioning (S&C) program will give you amazing benefits on the bike. You don’t need to be lifting massive weights, just a small weight lifted the correct way, with the right neural patterning. An all-inclusive S&C program at least twice a week will include mobility and flexibility sessions which decrease the risk of injury and allow you to sustain power in more aerodynamic positions. Lastly, focusing on correct neural patterning and firing of the correct muscle groups is like finding a turbo button. Your largest and most powerful cycling muscle is your glute, it’s also lazy to fire and most cyclists hardly use it and instead have dominate hamstrings or quads. This slows you down and can cause injuries like lower back pain from overactive hamstrings. Now is the perfect time of year to address these improvements and you’ll be a new cyclist in spring!"

Train with ARA Pro Racing: @ aca_cycling

6. Know your goals

Simon Holt - WiV SunGod

Cycling coach and Canyon dhb SunGod Sports Director Simon Holt has built a career around his obsession with cycling. A retired pro racer, he is now a full-time coach, running his own coaching business, Grinta Coaching. This he does alongside his duties for Canyon dhb SunGod, which include overseeing the training of the team riders and managing the team’s European race programme.

"When you're considering what your week of training should be, it is always useful to have your goals clearly written out and posted somewhere you see them almost daily to remind you what you are working towards. With this established technique, I have seen increased motivation and enhanced confidence from the athletes I coach. Your goals should be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Relevant. At Grinta Coaching, we always work back from your goal in order to achieve success and to figure out what your training should look like week-on-week in order to achieve this!"

Follow WiV SunGod: @wiv_sungod

Sure, we know there is no perfect training week, we're all different! But the key takeaway here is that this time of year isn’t always about quantity, it’s also about training smart and making every minute count. Now is the time to max out on the productivity and lay your most solid foundations yet for the months to come! Training through winter isn’t as hard as you might think, 7 SunGod Ambassadors share their tips for staying motivated during the winter months.