Our physical performance depends on a few closely connected components through which the athlete develops speed, strength and endurance. In the next three episodes, we will show you how to connect these elements. We will focus on endurance in this article.
Endurance training is one of the basic training patterns every cyclist enjoys. So what should endurance training look like?
Endurance is the ability to carry on with a physical activity before fatigue sets in. Our muscles gain energy from body fat. We distinguish between long-term, medium-term, short-term and speed endurance. Every level of endurance can be developed through a different form of training.
Endurance training teaches our body to work economically, for a longer period of time, with a minimal energy output. This type of training is also suitable as recovery training as it is relatively easy. Endurance training is every cyclist’s very first training pattern. The training should take between six minutes and the length of the race we would like to prepare for. The intensity is monitored and checked using a heart-rate monitor. The heart rate stays between 65% and 99% of our maximum heart rate on flat terrain, and between 89% and 93% in climbs.
The least physically demanding endurance training is called compensatory training. This is all about an easy, relaxed yet swift ride with minimal effort on flat or slightly undulating terrain. We ride in low gears and focus on our pedalling technique. This type of training improves blood circulation and helps wash away lactic acid from our muscles. The training should last any time between ten minutes and two hours. The duration should match our physical ability and shouldn’t exceed half the duration of our usual training. Compensatory training should be applied once to six times a week at any time throughout the year.
With the development of long-term and medium-term endurance the aerobic capacity of our body improves, the number of capillaries that deliver blood to our muscles increases, the mitochondrial density and the volume of blood grows, while the heart rate for the given training intensity decreases. The long-term and medium-term endurance foundation is formed by long-term and continuous activity with moderate to medium intensity on flat or slightly undulating terrain with climbs of 2% to 4%.
The fitter we get, we can ride over ever-more undulating terrain at the same heart rate and we will ride faster with better performance. MTB riders should choose terrain that enables them to ride at the relevant intensity.
When we use fixed gears to develop power endurance, we actually improve all the elements together – endurance, power, speed, and loading. This training is only suitable for more experienced riders who want to improve their fitness and pedalling technique. Start on flat terrain first, and then gradually add some moderate climbs. The training should focus on medium intensity with the aim of improving power endurance on undulating terrain. We include this kind of training only once a week in the preliminary, pre-race or race training periods.
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