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Race Training  by Bruce Argyle
Part 2:  Specific Guidelines.

In the previous section, I discussed the general principles behind becoming a faster racer. Now we'll put it onto a calendar.

For a biker with spouse, job, and kids, intensive-level training isn't easy. Most of us barely get by, then scramble to shape up before the racing season. The workout schedule below is designed for the 10 weeks immediately prior to the racing season.

Aerobic Miles:  The core of any race-training program should be aerobic miles. Ride long (not hard) within your aerobic training zone. The typical program should include at least two days per week of 2 to 4 hours steady-state riding. The amount depends on your current conditioning and recovery ability. Beginning riders and older riders won't be able to do as much, or do it as often. The idea is to start with a duration and frequency that doesn't leave you exhausted and weak the next day, then gradually build.

Many riders think they'll get tough faster by riding as hard as they can, as long as they can, as often as they can. Not true. This isn't the most efficient way to train. You'll get better faster, with less risk of over-training syndrome or injury, if you discipline yourself to stay in your "training zone." Use a heart-rate monitor. And get enough rest between heavy-exercise days.

Using a Resistance Trainer: One of the most efficient ways to train is through a resistance trainer. There are no stoplights, roots, turns, or downhills, so you can go through a scientifically-designed workout that gives you the maximum training benefit. In Utah, it's extremely difficult to train outdoors during the winter. A trainer lets you exercise in your home, or in "spinning" classes at the local gym.
Ride during your normal TV-watching time. Or get a portable DVD player to watch an action movie. Or use a bookstand to read a book or magazine. You need to keep your mind occupied, or you simply won't tolerate repeated workouts of sufficient length to raise your lactate threshold to racer-levels. Many riders use our UtahMountainBiking Trail Sampler DVD as an inspiring part of their aerobic trainer riding.
Anaerobic intervals:  One of the quickest ways to increase your biking speed is anaerobic intervals. To be effective, these should be matched to your current fitness level. You can do intervals by doing bursts of rapid climbing on a hill, or set up a scientific program on your trainer. You push far into the anaerobic zone, then pedal lightly until you recover. To set up a program specific for you, see our Anaerobic Interval instruction page.
Strengthening on the Bike:  You can do sprints and power-pedaling on the road or trail, but most racers find it's more efficient to use an organized exercise routine. This is an excellent use for your resistance trainer. You can hit a muscle-building "spinning" class, or you can buy a DVD for use with your trainer. A muscle-building workout should be done only twice a week. (If you do it more often, you won't have time to recover, so you won't build muscle.)

UMB's Biking Power DVD is specifically designed to develop core strength and burst power in advanced-level cyclists. Doing this program twice per week, you'll become stronger and faster than you ever imagined.

Other good overall resistance-trainer DVDs are found in the "Spinervals" series. (In the next section, I'll introduce you to the details of resistance trainers.)

Cross-Training: Most racers combine their on-bike time with cross-training activity. Working out with weights is a critical part of preparation for the racing season. You should also include stretching exercises. For some quickie power-lifting exercises designed to be done with dumbbells at home, click on the links below. Depending on your goals, the cross-training should be done once or twice per week. As you get closer to racing season, your goal is to transition from intensity (how much weight you lift) to duration (how many reps you can do). Once you're racing, you'll want to back off a bit on power-lifting -- shorter workouts, done only once a week, and never during the three days before the next race. Race Team training-week schedule:
Monday For weight loss, start with 1 hour riding in training zone.
Biking Power DVD, 1 hour.
Tuesday Recovery ride 30-60 minutes.
Wednesday Non-cycling aerobic activity 1 hour (basketball, tennis, running).
Cross-training w dumbbells Upper Body, Lower body, 39-60 minutes.
Thursday Aerobic "training zone" riding 3 hours.
Friday Light recovery activity or rest day.
Saturday "Skills" ride 2-4 hours for fun and to work on technique,
or 2-4 hours training zone ride.
Sunday Rest day. Race Team racing-week schedule:
Monday Recovery from previous Saturday's race, 60 minutes light riding.
Tuesday 2 hour training zone ride. 30 minutes workout with weights.
Wednesday Recovery ride 30-60 minutes.
Thursday Rest day.
Friday Pre-ride race course, staying in "training zone."
Saturday 30 minutes training zone warm-up. Race.
Sunday Rest day.
Race Training Intervals Resistance Trainers Powertaps Upper Body Lower Body