Become A Speed Demon With Three Easy Workouts!
When it comes to improving your riding, there are many articles out there that can help you improve your endurance and cardiovascular ability, your posture, your habits and overall skill set but there aren’t too many that can help you tackle the issue of speed.
Remember your PE lessons back in school? Back then, if you were on the running track you were either fast or you weren’t and it was always diagnosed as a matter of fast-twitch fibres and the like but those days are over! You’re a cyclist these days, not a runner, and there are ways to tune your body into moving faster. If you try the steps below, you should be able to a bit more speed to your ride in a matter of weeks.
If you’re a regular cyclist, you can apply these tricks on your usual journeys and you won’t even have to go too far out of your way to get the results that you want. If you’re not such a regular cyclist, it might be worth spending the time working on your endurance before throwing the extra speed into the mix; the fitter you are to start with, the easier this process will be!
The best thing about these training tips is that you don’t any fancy equipment; you just need a bicycle, some free time and a bit of discipline, which you’ll agree is a small amount to pay for an improved riding experience.
Fartlek training first came on the scene in 1937 when Swedish coach Gösta Holmér was looking for a way for his national cross country running team to improve their game and Fartlek was the solution. The name literally translates into English as speed play and that’s exactly what you’ll need if you want to cycle faster.
To get started, you’ll need to find the time for a relatively short ride, something in the one to two hour bracket and you’ll want to ride it at your normal pace and break it up with bursts of acceleration and speed. Try riding normally for five minutes and then deliberately push yourself at your fastest pace for one minute before returning back to your normal speed. You’ll have to work out the timings for yourself, depending on your own fitness level but this type of continuous training (normal riding) and interval training (the short bursts) should help you ride faster in future.
Try adding the length of the bursts slowly over time and you will see results but make sure you don’t push yourself too hard or you may end up with an injury.
Although this type of training may seem very similar to Fartlek training, it’s actually a little bit different and helps you to increase your acceleration, whereas Fartlek helps you sustain your higher speed. This training method works better on short rides (about an hour maximum) along the flat but if you feel like you could do it in the hills then by all means go for it. The trick is to push yourself.
Cycle along at your usual pace but rather than try a burst of acceleration, try a burst of acceleration whilst moving into a higher gear. You’ll probably want to stand up on the pedals for the first few seconds to really build your speed, then sit back down and try to maintain your new speed for a minute or two before changing back to a more appropriate gear and slowing down to your usual pace. Give your body time to relax before trying it again; ideally you’ll want to aim for five high intensity bursts within your one hour ride. Once you’ve got the hang of the exercise, repeat it regularly over the course of a few weeks, aiming to fit more bursts into the time frame.
You want to work your body during the acceleration bursts and see the regular cycling mode as your rest period. If this workout doesn’t make you sweat then you’re doing it wrong!
The previous two workout routines have been geared towards shorter rides but this is one for the longest ride you do and it involves a bit of concentration unless you’ve got some fancy machinery. This workout is all about monitoring and improving your cadence. If you’re not familiar with the term, it describes your pedaling rate, as in how many revolutions your pedals make within a set time, usually minutes.
So as soon as you’re out on your ride, begin by measuring your cadence; the simplest way to do this is to count how many times your right leg lifts during a thirty second period and doubling the result. You can buy specific ride computers that measure this for you but not everyone has one! Try doing this in an easy gear with a relatively high spin rate for ten minutes or so; then it’s time to smash your cadence rate and try to get as many rpms in there as you can. So, if your regular cadence is 90 rpm, cycle like that for ten minutes; then try a five minute burst of trying to ‘up’ that rate to 125 rpm instead. Repeat this through your ride, without dipping below your usual cadence.
We suggest that you do this on a longer ride, whenever the road and terrain allows for it; we realize that the roads aren’t built for short bursts of speed, so it’s best to incorporate this training method into a longer ride, where more chances will be available to you!
If you can couple these exercise methods with your usual dose of endurance and cardiovascular, you should be able to notice a difference in your overall top speeds and accelerations times. If you get started today, you should be able to see results within a few weeks if you really give it your all – just make sure that you don’t overdo it; overtraining can really harm your fitness plan, so take it easy…but not too easy!