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  • Writer's pictureJohn Stirzaker

Getting Wintered Part 3

Winter Training Considerations

Base Training

At last, we can start to train, it’s tempting to just jump on Zwift, start racing and imagine that will set you up for the season. Think of your fitness like a pyramid with your race condition the capstone right at the top. When the pharaohs built them, they wanted their monuments as tall as possible which meant having the widest possible base and there was a plan where each stone would go. So, your base fitness and aerobic conditioning need to be as wide as possible to support your race performance. It takes years to build aerobic condition and 6-9 weeks to build anaerobic condition, so which area should our focus be on?

World Pro Tour riders spend hours and hours training their base fitness, so they have the aerobic capacity and metabolic flexibility to cope with the workload of the season. Building that base fitness is vital, this can be achieved through a mix of cross-training, Zone 1 and Zone 2 work. Cross-training can mean anything from swimming to walking or even cross-country skiing. ‘Zone 1 & 2’ I hear you shout what’s that about? Zone 1 is about teaching your body to burn fat, it’s not stressful, you don’t need sports nutrition and it’s a great intensity to practice your pedalling, getting your body in balance on the saddle and the pedals.

You are looking to improve the stroke volume of each heart beat and that is only trained at around 60-65% of maximum heart rate, any more than that and you are not affecting the changes required at this point in the season.

Strength Training

The winter is also a great time to put in place a properly structured strength programme, the benefits of which include improved body composition, injury prevention, bone strengthening, increased lean muscle mass, and offsetting the impact of hours on the bike.

As we age our fat-burning capabilities diminish as lean muscle mass is lost, sadly cycling isn’t very good for building muscle. In fact, it burns muscle especially at high intensity, therefore we need to build muscle through a structured strength training programme. The aim of this training is to create a certain kind of hypertrophy, myofibrillar, that builds muscle fibres.

Cycling does absolutely nothing for bone density, and offsetting this is vital to avoid the impact of broken bones from crashes and preventing the onset of osteoporosis. Although not always obvious, it’s also important to strengthen our upper bodies including shoulders and back to further help with injury prevention and create the strength we need to handle the bike in all manner of circumstances, including descending and cornering.

Incorporating core training will deliver improvements to your overall efficiency and help balance out imbalances that we accumulate over hours of riding. This also helps create a solid base that our legs can then work from, so minimal power is lost through inefficient movement.


At first it looks like an awful lot of information to absorb and a formidable to do list, but by enlisting the help of the relevant coaches so much of that work can be delegated so you can concentrate on doing what you need to do.

Any coach in the 21st century cannot look at these different considerations in isolation or just pay them lip service. They all play a role in ensuring that as we advance in years, we can continue to do what we love well into our “old age”.

By embracing the idea of “wintering” you can arrive at start of the season in a good mental, nutritional and mental state, this will make it so much easier to then ramp up your training intensity and volume whilst reducing the risks of injury and illness.

You will have embedded the habits that will help you unlock your hidden performance potential, and you will not be chasing changes in body composition which can lead to unhealthy strategies.

Our approach at BeSpoke can help with all manner of your training from knowing your training zones to understanding how to fuel your training on a daily basis and how to prepare your body to perform better.

Happy Riding

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