Ask RIDE…How do I stay fit with limited riding?

I have a young family and don’t have the time I once had to keep fit. I can manage two or maybe three rides a week of 2 to 3 hours. I love riding and want to keep up with my riding mates on the weekend. So my questions is; what is the best way to maintain a reasonable level of fitness with limited time on the bike?

Kevin Manx.

Dear Kevin,

It seems to fit in about as much training as I do, at 6-9 hours per week. It can be tough trying to ride as we once did but by doing some focused training you will go a long way compared to endless easy miles in the saddle. Intensity needs be a key element to the limited hours spent on the bike – this is going to become the key ingredient within your weekly routine. Do not be put off by this suggestion that every ride needs to be a gut-wrecher because a lot of it will depend on the time of year and where your priorities lie throughout the season.

If you are in the winter and early spring months the focus should be on building your endurance while including a healthy dose of zone 2  time (20-30 beats below your threshold heart rate). Performing strength efforts and/or gym work will help maintain muscle and keep you strong throughout the year. You can do this on the bike with big gear, low rpm efforts of under 5-minutes – don’t do this if you have knee trouble – and remember to engage your core muscles, keeping the upper body from rocking. Balance out these low cadence efforts with others days where performing short sprints will improve your leg speed.

As the weather warms up start including longer zone 3 efforts of 15-40 seconds at 10-20 beats below your threshold heart rate. Once you’ve built a solid base with some zone 3 work add in race intensity intervals which can be at threshold for 5-20 seconds. Speed work also becomes a key element which can be done on fast group rides. On targeted days when you are rested try adding several 2-3 minute intervals at 95-100% effort with a 2-3 minute break in between.

Good luck and the most important element is consistency. It’s better to ride almost every day for 90-120 minutes than it would be to ride 2 days a week for 3hrs.

trainingpeaksIt might seem a bit overwhelming at first but the amount of information available to TrainingPeaks users is immense. There are training programs, food programs and plenty of information to ensure the time spent on the bike is effective. Rides can be uploaded and accessed from any computer.

Dirk Friel.

Dirk is the founder of the popular training log and food diary, TrainingPeaks which helps motivated individuals and professionals achieve health, fitness and peak performance.

Click here for more information about threshold and zone training.

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