For cyclists, the transition into the winter months can be a disheartening period.
As summer events wind down and the clocks turn back, riders often need to adapt their training through the autumn to make sure they come out of the winter in perfect shape.
But what is the best way to handle the winter transition, particularly after a year as volatile and unpredictable as 2020?
The Sufferfest, Wahoo’s indoor training app, has released a new range of six-week training plans designed for the time-crunched rider, which can help you balance rest, recovery, performance and mobility, to help you reset for the winter.
Head of science for Wahoo’s sports science team, Neal Henderson, who is also coach to pro riders Rohan Dennis and Kasia Niewiadoma, explained the idea behind the Transition plans to Cycling Weekly.
Henderson said: “At the end of the season, a lot of times people have kind of emulated what a pro does at the end of say the Giro, a big Grand Tour where they’ve been riding 20 or 30 hour weeks really hard. After months of doing lots of that, They just shut down completely.
“Most of the folks that are using our platform and our software aren’t riding 20, 25, 30 plus hours a week and so the need to completely just like unplug and do absolutely nothing is sometimes more counter productive for somebody who trains maybe five or 10 hours a week.”
Instead, the Transition plans help riders switch up their training with yoga, strength and mobility sessions, and time on the bike, to get you ready for the real winter training.
The plans come in two forms: the transition up for cyclists who haven’t been doing much intense activity and want to ramp up their training, or the transition down plans for athletes who are switching from a high-volume to high-intensity training block to a more relaxed schedule.
As well as the performance benefits of yoga and strength training, there are also the mental bonuses to switching up your training during the transition period.
Henderson said: “So when we think about training and preparing there’s a physical aspect. There’s a physiological aspect like training and different energy systems and capacities, things like that. But there is that that mental and emotional side of things that you have to address and so a lot of times people get into what their weekly rhythm is in terms of during the meat of the year and training.
“Trying to hit the reset from a mental perspective while still moving is definitely good.”
For most riders, 2020 will have been a tough years athletes have deal with lockdown, the cancellation of events due to the global pandemic, and uncertainty about the future – for that reason, Henderson says the winter period may be more important than ever.
He said: “Because this year was so really odd, you can use any number of terms, most of us have an idea of what would we do differently for this coming year.
“So, taking that time to kind of peel back some layers right now and get to a stronger foundation overall like that is a good idea. And that’s really what this transition is helping in some cases people think about doing things that they’ve never done.”
Find out more about the plans here.
Here’s how the two options for Transition plans break down:
Transition Up – for athletes coming off a period of little or no activity who are ready to get back into structured indoor training. On-bike sessions progress from lower intensity in the early part of the plan to higher intensity later, with a significant focus on pedaling efficiency and neuromuscular development. Off-bike sessions follow a progression from gentle mobility and stability sessions into functional strength work designed to improve body mechanics, pedaling efficiency, and help athletes stay comfortable on longer rides.
Transition Down – designed for athletes transitioning from a high-volume, high-intensity training block, or those coming off of a demanding season of riding or racing. Cycling sessions progress from lower intensity to more focused pedaling drills and neuromuscular sessions, while maintaining a relatively low volume. The plan also includes targeted stability, mobility, and strength exercises to help athletes address aspects of their overall fitness that may have been neglected during the outdoor season.
Both session then end with the Sufferfest 4DP fitness test, a comprehensive but demanding session that will give riders a breakdown of all their power abilities.
You will also be able to joined the SUForum to ask questions of Henderson, strength and conditioning coach Jeff Hoobler, and yoga partner Abi Carver, who will be providing training tips.