TOP TIPS TO IMPROVE STAMINA ON THE BIKE | ONE Pro Cycling

Q: What is the best way to increase my stamina on the bike?

“An question often asked, particularly if unlike our professional full-time riders, you are limited to the amount of time you can cycle or train per week. The answer is often prefaced by …well it depends…

It depends on factors such as your natural/genetic ability, your age, health status, time previously spent cycling to name a few but is also inextricably linked with the aim, target or reason why you wish to improve your cycling stamina (or endurance).”

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What is your aim?

“Are you looking to cycle 20 miles around your local region without discomfort or aching muscles? Maybe a 50 mile Charity Ride? Or next year’s Ride London! Whatever the aim may be, it should be achievable and realistic, relative to the time you have available on a consistent weekly basis – as well as being honest in your appraisal of your physical ‘starting point’. Set yourself up to succeed, not fail!”

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Ride Longer.

“Sounds obvious, however the most effective way to increase your stamina – especially when you’re starting from scratch or have had a long lay off from exercise is to gradually increase the duration of your rides. A consistent 5-10% increase in time spent in the saddle on say, a weekly ‘long’ ride (combined with shorter rides at other times) will bring sustainable adaptations and benefits. Increasing the length and duration of rides too quickly can make you more vulnerable to injury and saddle sores which in turn may prevent you from riding on a consistent basis. Consistency is the key here.”

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Mix it up.

“Longer, steady rides form an important part of building your cycling stamina but the body’s physiological “engine” can also adapt positively to shorter bouts of higher intensity sessions, particularly the mitochondria, which are often known as the sparkplugs of your cells. Research shows that while longer, lower-intensity exercise increases the number of mitochondria in your cells, high-intensity training also makes those mitochondria more powerful. All types of endurance activities can benefit more powerful engines. For most people with 6-10 hrs a week to train, an 80%/20% split of lower level intensity to higher intensity sessions tend to provide the most effective benefits.”

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How hard should it be?

“Your longer, steady sessions should be at an intensity where you can just about maintain a conversation with a training partner and continued for periods of between 30mins and 2-4 hrs plus. Heart rate monitor and/or power meter users have the potential to define this zone quite clearly but the ‘conversation’ rule of thumb is usually accurate over time. The higher intensity workouts can take the form of short sessions (less than 1 hour) with sections ridden at significantly higher intensity than in the longer, steadier workouts. They can be variable and led by terrain/conditions (eg. hill efforts etc) or can incorporate more structured interval training (previously covered in Coaching Corner). Remember, before you undertake any intense physical activity or start training for an event/goal, arrange an appointment with your GP for a general check-up.”

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Rest.

“The toughest, longest, hardest training sessions can all be wasted if you do not allow adequate recovery time. The time spent away from pedalling hard and/or long is actually the period where those hard earned benefits and improvements come together to allow your body to go longer, stronger, faster the next time – especially when married to good sleep and nutritional habits. Some residual fatigue and muscle soreness is to be expected as you continue your journey in improving your stamina but don’t be afraid to allow complete recovery from time to time (even if that occasionally means a few days off) to fully maximise your improvement potential.”

Photo credit: Trevor Mould (@MouldyPIX)