A Career Cyclist’s Secrets for Effective (and Enjoyable) Winter Training

5 tips from Shaun Radley of the Cycling House to keep you training all winter

Winter is upon us and for most of the country that means road and trail access is limited. For a lot of cyclists this may mean that training suffers in favor of eggnog and pumpkin pie. But, a dip in training during winter months makes getting ready for that spring race more challenging. So what’s the best way to fight the winter weather? We asked our experts for their secrets to help cyclists stay fit in the winter.

When it comes to winter cyclists may have it the worst. Roads are slushy, icy, cindery and can be just plain dangerous. Trails are even worse. Shaun has trained through enough Missoula winters to pick up a few tricks to emerge from winter months strong and fit.

1. Have a plan. Whether it’s a spin class, trainer in the basement, or a bundled up ride outside, it’s important to have a solid plan to spin the pedals. It’s easy to get caught up in other activities in the winter and not spend enough time in the saddle. Shaun recommends three bike sessions a week. Workouts help pass the time, but a focus on pedal stroke and cadence type workout may be more beneficial than fitness building workout for winter training.

2. Skate ski. Really any type of Nordic skiing is great for building fitness, but a solid skate ski session is very beneficial for cyclists. It’s comparable to a spin class, especially if you aren’t a top skier who can glide yards at a time, where a 1.5 hour workout leaves you exhausted. Shaun recommends two skate ski workouts a week in addition to either a skin/ski backcountry adventure, or longer backcountry classic ski session.

3. Running. If trails or sidewalks aren’t too icy, or you have access to a treadmill, running is a great option for cyclists. Running strengthens muscles that cyclists don’t use as frequently. Although it does not help with cycling pop and high end cadence, it is a great way to build cardio fitness and strengthen joints. It is recommended to tone down running volume as you get close to a big cycling event, and don’t string together 6+ mile days without a recovery day or two.

4. Spend some time with your gear. Getting your kits, shoes, and bikes all properly fitted and fine-tuned isn’t always a priority in the summer. Winter is a great time to tinker with bike parts and other gear. This provides time to reflect on your last season and an opportunity get excited for the upcoming one.

5. Focus on your weaknesses. Winter is a great time to build strength in neglected areas in a non-specific manner. If you’ve struggled during sustained climbs, try skate skiing or running for 25-35 minutes at a hard effort. If you struggle responding to quick accelerations, try finding a plyometric/circuit routine you like, in order to build faster twitch muscles.


This post originally appeared on the Cycling House blog; for more visit their website