Dos and don’ts of winter training (video)

Winter is the perfect time of year to get a jump-start on next season's cycle training. Here are some top tips to make sure you are fast and lean come springtime

With bad weather and fewer daylight hours, it can be easy to let your training slip during the winter months.

However if you are able to maintain some structured training when the mercury starts to drop, you will be rewarded by the time summer arrives.

Create a training plan

The first step of creating a successful training plan is to set out the goals you want to achieve for the upcoming season and constructing a training plan around them.

>>> Cycling training plans: get fitter, ride faster and go further

It is important to be flexible with your training plan to allow for bad weather or unavoidable illnesses. Heading out on the bike regardless may cause more harm than good and it’s better to miss one training session than end up needing several days off.

Adjust your riding to the conditions

Winter isn’t just about grinding away for hours on end racking up long slow miles, as using indoor training can really help improve your speed.

These shorter and more intense sessions are perfect for turbo trainers or rollers and away from the harsh elements.

>>> Eight ways to make your turbo sessions more enjoyable

Using this technique known as reverse periodisation, you can add in long distance rides during the spring when the weather gets warmer and days get longer.

But when you do go out in the rain…

Head off road

Sometimes the road conditions in winter aren’t the best for getting the most out of your riding. Therefore heading off road with a cyclocross or mountain bike will not only be safer but can be great for improving your bike handling skills.

Get kitted out

Treating yourself to the best technical clothing you can afford means you will be able to ride outside in comfort even when the weather is really bad.

Make sure you invest in some good lights too; as they can extend the number of hours a day you can ride.

Find the right winter kit for you

Keep the diet under control

As tempting as it may be to splurge during the winter months, it’s important to go easy on the pies, booze and rich food in winter. You will just have to work twice as hard to lose that weight again in spring.

It’s not a case of starving yourself, making you ill and miserable as a little bit of winter weight isn’t completely detrimental.

>>> Winter’s here: Flu fighting foods

This is especially important when heading out for a ride in cold weather where you will be burning extra calories to keep warm.

Enjoy it

Winter can be one of the best times of year to get out on your bike, the scenery can be at its most stunning.

Combining this with some decent kit and a good bunch of friends to ride with you can’t really go wrong.