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Old 11-14-17, 12:38 PM   #1
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Winter training goals

It seems like the off-season would be the ideal time to lose fat, rather than have specific performance goals. Does this sound like I am thinking about this in the right way? (as opposed to trying to lose fat WHILE also seeking to increase power and fitness during the outdoor season.)

It seems better to seek to simply maintain a reasonable amount of cardio fitness over the winter, and focus on eating healthy, so that when I start doing more climbing in the spring, I'll be 10lbs lighter!
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Old 11-14-17, 01:05 PM   #2
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yes, post season is the best time to lose weight, but that doesn't mean to completely back off the intensity in the offseason. You can still maintain fitness while losing weight
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Old 11-14-17, 01:23 PM   #3
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yes, post season is the best time to lose weight, but that doesn't mean to completely back off the intensity in the offseason. You can still maintain fitness while losing weight
Yes I realize that, that's. The general idea, maintain fitness, but not be insane about my workouts. I'll still be doing sprint sessions in the garage...just short ones.
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Old 11-14-17, 06:17 PM   #4
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It's really hard to build a lot of fitness while you're losing weight. Losing weight is a pretty stressful process for the body. So, yeah, if performance on the bike is important to you, do enough to maintain your fitness and lose weight. Personally, I think more volume and less (not no) intensity is the way to go through the winter for most folks.

Another option is cross training, try a different sport. Cross country skiing has a lot in common with cycling, both are aerobic endurance sports, and the differences can be fun and refreshing. It won't make you a better cyclist but it will maintain your fitness, and learning a new sport goes better with losing weight than trying to be competitive at one you're deeply invested in. Doesn't have to be skiing, either.
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Old 11-14-17, 07:32 PM   #5
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My year typically finds me at my lowest weight at the end of July. I'll put on a little from there until after New Years because of well, having friends. After the holiday season I'll start slowly dropping weight, pretty much straight line until about June or so. I'll put on some muscle over the winter, then gradually lose those gains plus some bodyfat once the outdoor riding season heats up around here in early spring.

I understand that the conventional wisdom is to try to start losing weight now, but in real life it works better for me to ride it off next spring. I'm a hard-gainer, so right now I need to do strength work while I also try to keep aerobic fitness and bike skills and that's incompatible with weight loss.
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Old 11-15-17, 10:03 AM   #6
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My general plan is to do lots of bodyweight calestinics, upper and lower body, along with some trainer work, and basketball, hopefully build muscle, lose fat, over the winter.
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Old 11-15-17, 02:36 PM   #7
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I hate riding in the cold (in general, just hate the cold) and I hate riding indoors (just so boring for me) so my winter will likely be this:
1 x per week: HIIT on the trainer (opposite of the usual way of doing things, but I'm not doing a long indoor ride, so I may as well make what I do intense)
2 x per week: commute to work on winter bike (this is somewhat flexible based on the weather - I'm not going to suffer if it is extremely cold or if we get a lot of snow)
1 x per week: basketball (this is scheduled for twice, but it's at lunch during a weekday so I often miss it due to work conflicts)
Extra weights. I'm lifting twice a week currently, I'll probably up my volume each time and maybe add a third day.
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Old 11-16-17, 06:41 AM   #8
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My winter routine is not much different than any other time of the year. I'll get in 200 km/week just from riding to work. I do a couple of runs on the weekend to give the joints and bones a bit of stress. And lifting is year-round as well.

Periodization? What's that?!
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Old 11-16-17, 11:21 AM   #9
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Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on building strength with weights than on losing weight?
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Old 11-16-17, 03:21 PM   #10
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how long is your off season? you might try the 1st half trimming down (fat) & the 2nd half building muscle mass. you might wind up the same weight, but it will be better weight

even tho I ride thru the winter, I do spend more time in the gym during the colder months. at this stage of my life, I'm pretty stable (fitness/weight wise) but when the spring physical comes around I try to crank it all up a notch about a month prior
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Old 11-19-17, 11:57 AM   #11
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Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on building strength with weights than on losing weight?
This is my line of thinking. I had been planning on starting a lifting regimen, but, a bruised collarbone after hitting a sneaky pothole after dark has dashed a lot of goals.
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Old 11-19-17, 01:56 PM   #12
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Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on building strength with weights than on losing weight?
It depends on current body composition, but usually not. Cycling "strength" is figured in watts/kg. Watts are much more directly related to VO2max that they are to how much one can squat. And VO2max, which is genetic though somewhat trainable, is only a theoretical max figure while what really matters is how long one can hold 90% VO2max, which percentage is totally trainable. Big difference in watts going from 60% to 90% VO2max.

So your big gains are always going to be in increasing aerobic capacity, followed by weight loss, followed by strength gain, rated in order of rate of increase to watts at lactate threshold per kg. One could do them in order, but most folks want to do them all at once, which in reality may not be as practical as tackling them one at a time.

A caveat - I'm not sure about the order between strength and weight loss since I did them both at the same time even though that's said not to work. The above is my best guess.

My plan in comment 5 is for me, having had a good go at maxing out watts/kg last summer but hope to do better next summer, mostly by trying to further increase aerobic capacity.

So one's first, and possibly most difficult winter goal would be riding really a lot, maybe 20%-30% hard, the rest easy to moderate, IME at least 100 miles/week, ramping up to maybe 150 miles/week by May. If one pays attention to meal sizes, that's going to drop some weight right there.

Edit: I should probably mention the Carmichael says to his endurance athletes, "if you can limit your weight gain to 5 lbs. from Oct. 1 until after New Years, you're doing OK." So lay down that big base and include about 45' of LT work per week.
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Old 11-19-17, 02:46 PM   #13
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Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on building strength with weights than on losing weight?

I agree...and strength training can also result in significant fat-loss if proper exercises selection is used and proper nutrition is followed. Fat-loss is just a bonus and one of the positive side-effects of weightlifting.
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Old 11-19-17, 03:06 PM   #14
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It depends on current body composition, but usually not. Cycling "strength" is figured in watts/kg. Watts are much more directly related to VO2max that they are to how much one can squat. And VO2max, which is genetic though somewhat trainable, is only a theoretical max figure while what really matters is how long one can hold 90% VO2max, which percentage is totally trainable. Big difference in watts going from 60% to 90% VO2max.

So your big gains are always going to be in increasing aerobic capacity, followed by weight loss, followed by strength gain, rated in order of rate of increase to watts at lactate threshold per kg. One could do them in order, but most folks want to do them all at once, which in reality may not be as practical as tackling them one at a time.

Agreed with everything you said...the thing is that, if somebody lives in an area where they can't ride for a few months during winter, they can still do workouts to maintain or even increase their aerobic capacity and maintain their VO2max without riding a bicycle. HIIT intervals and XC skiing is great for maintaining VO2max. XC skiers have the highest VO2max of all.... and lifting weights is beneficial for all around health even if it doesn't directly transfer to cycling.
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Old 11-19-17, 05:10 PM   #15
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Agreed with everything you said...the thing is that, if somebody lives in an area where they can't ride for a few months during winter, they can still do workouts to maintain or even increase their aerobic capacity and maintain their VO2max without riding a bicycle. HIIT intervals and XC skiing is great for maintaining VO2max. XC skiers have the highest VO2max of all.... and lifting weights is beneficial for all around health even if it doesn't directly transfer to cycling.
Thanks, though IME the greatest cycling gains come from cycling. Meaning treat yourselves to a set of SportCrafters resistance rollers and get TrainerRoad to go with them. Oh, and drop by your local big box store and buy a couple 24" box fans, 'cause you're going to be doing some sweating.

Also, get yourself a gym membership and start lifting for an hour or so, twice a week. For instance my routine for years has been ride the rollers on Tuesday for an hour, including 30' of pedaling 115 rpm or so in a light gear, then weights, mostly upper body pulling. Thursday, an hour of steady zone 2 on the rollers, than about 90' at the gym, upper body pushing plus legs.

That's supposed to integrate with a 3-4 hour Sunday killer group ride, a Monday and Wednesday run or ski if work-free or more rollers if not, and another Friday roller session. If you live in snow, a Sunday ski day would work too. That's a lot of roller work. I never ride them for fun. You'd have to be nuts to do that. I always have a job to do on them, laid out ahead of time. The roller sessions are all 1 hour, so they easily fit in with real life.

If you recover well enough to do them, these workouts would be the equivalent of a 100-150 mile week. I suppose most folks use a trainer rather than rollers. Whatever you can, just do the work.
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Old 11-20-17, 10:24 AM   #16
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So one's first, and possibly most difficult winter goal would be riding really a lot, maybe 20%-30% hard, the rest easy to moderate, IME at least 100 miles/week, ramping up to maybe 150 miles/week by May.
Not likely...my summer, in-season mileage is usually the equivalent of 30-40 miles/week, trainer sessions included.

In the winter, my 20 mile group rides drop out, leaving me with 2-3 20-30 minute trainer sessions per week.

So building long-distance endurance is not going to happen over winter...I'm picking other goals: Strength and fat loss.
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Old 11-20-17, 01:46 PM   #17
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Not likely...my summer, in-season mileage is usually the equivalent of 30-40 miles/week, trainer sessions included.

In the winter, my 20 mile group rides drop out, leaving me with 2-3 20-30 minute trainer sessions per week.

So building long-distance endurance is not going to happen over winter...I'm picking other goals: Strength and fat loss.
I don't mean for this to sound condescending or harsh, but with that few of miles I don't think you are really training to any significant degree, so significant weight loss will be your best bet to get faster.
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Old 11-20-17, 02:17 PM   #18
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I don't mean for this to sound condescending or harsh, but with that few of miles I don't think you are really training to any significant degree, so significant weight loss will be your best bet to get faster.
No offense taken at all. I realize my volume of riding is a drop in the bucket to many. However, my trainer sessions are all based on short all-out sprint efforts with short recovery, such that a 20 minute session usually wipes me put more than a 2 hour group ride with a few climbs.

Doing this for 2-3 years has allowed me to be mid-to front of our local group rides, at least staying close to people who do regular centuries and iron man races, and it has made me fit enough to finish about 1/3 from the bottom in my 2nd cyclocross race, even after losing my chain.

So, I'm working with the time I have. It has made me a big believer in sprint intervals. It really does have benefits for medium length rides.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of weight to lose. I'm 5'9" at 162lbs...Soccer players build from years of playing. 10lbs is probably the limit of what i'd want...that would get be below my high school graduation weight of 155. (I'm 37).
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Old 11-20-17, 05:23 PM   #19
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No offense taken at all. I realize my volume of riding is a drop in the bucket to many. However, my trainer sessions are all based on short all-out sprint efforts with short recovery, such that a 20 minute session usually wipes me put more than a 2 hour group ride with a few climbs.

Doing this for 2-3 years has allowed me to be mid-to front of our local group rides, at least staying close to people who do regular centuries and iron man races, and it has made me fit enough to finish about 1/3 from the bottom in my 2nd cyclocross race, even after losing my chain.

So, I'm working with the time I have. It has made me a big believer in sprint intervals. It really does have benefits for medium length rides.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of weight to lose. I'm 5'9" at 162lbs...Soccer players build from years of playing. 10lbs is probably the limit of what i'd want...that would get be below my high school graduation weight of 155. (I'm 37).
For sure you can maintain fitness with pretty minimal riding, wasn't questioning your ability, but in regards to your initial question about prioritization of losing weight or gaining power/fitness, for your amount of riding losing the 10 extra pounds will do more than any prioritization on riding with that little amount per week.
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Old 11-21-17, 07:13 AM   #20
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For sure you can maintain fitness with pretty minimal riding, wasn't questioning your ability, but in regards to your initial question about prioritization of losing weight or gaining power/fitness, for your amount of riding losing the 10 extra pounds will do more than any prioritization on riding with that little amount per week.
Actually, if I can push back a bit, this has not been my experience, or what I understand about our physiology:

Despite my stated goals for this winter, I still have found that the body responds very quickly to cardio training...much faster than muscle or joint strengthening. So when I focus on high intensity workouts for even 3-6 weeks while maintaining steady weight, the performance results far exceed what I could do if I simply ate less and lost 10lbs... That only helps on climbs...cardio fitness helps the whole ride.

This seems confirmed in others I have spoken to and read studies of: Cardio-vascular fitness can be trained very quickly, even when other measures, such as joint strength and weight loss lag behind. That's why you see a few rather large people able to run long distances...and why some cyclists who outweigh me by 50lbs can leave me behind on flat ground. (I catch them in the hills).

I just know myself, and know I am mentally more like to be motivated to do body-weight exercises and eat well than hit the bike hard this winter...so I'm trying to periodize.
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Old 11-21-17, 09:09 AM   #21
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Actually, if I can push back a bit, this has not been my experience, or what I understand about our physiology:

Despite my stated goals for this winter, I still have found that the body responds very quickly to cardio training...much faster than muscle or joint strengthening. So when I focus on high intensity workouts for even 3-6 weeks while maintaining steady weight, the performance results far exceed what I could do if I simply ate less and lost 10lbs... That only helps on climbs...cardio fitness helps the whole ride.

This seems confirmed in others I have spoken to and read studies of: Cardio-vascular fitness can be trained very quickly, even when other measures, such as joint strength and weight loss lag behind. That's why you see a few rather large people able to run long distances...and why some cyclists who outweigh me by 50lbs can leave me behind on flat ground. (I catch them in the hills).

I just know myself, and know I am mentally more like to be motivated to do body-weight exercises and eat well than hit the bike hard this winter...so I'm trying to periodize.
Thats not how it works, if you've already been doing HIIT as your training all summer and fall and peaked for your fitness for the year, an additional 6 weeks repeating this will only provide very minor changes in ftp and %v02max. Whereas if you maintain your fitness with a reduced load while losing 10lbs in that 6 weeks you will be faster. HIIT gains do no continue forever at a rapid rate
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Old 11-21-17, 10:23 AM   #22
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Wouldn't it make sense to concentrate on building strength with weights than on losing weight?
Thatís what Iím doing for now. Ask me in the spring how it worked.

Itís the shoulder season, Iím riding less (cold, driving rain, constant darkness) and not skiing yet. Last year I ran a lot this time of year but Iím not currently.

Iím going to the gym and lifting 3x per week. (Research shows beginners do best on 3x per week per muscle group until about 3-6 months, then 2x per week.) Every week, I think Iím lifting as much as I possibly can, and getting a little intimidated, but every Monday I add 5 pounds. Itís been about 6 weeks, and my girlfriend is increasingly happy with the way I look. Iím slowly gaining belly, too, but it should disappear quickly once I start spending more time on the bike. Skiing helps a lot, too, but I canít do it every day where I live.
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Old 11-21-17, 10:28 AM   #23
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Well you guys are a lot "seriouser" than I am, but I am having fun with my own so-called program. I've lost weight over the last couple of years and got down to an ideal weight. Now I seem to be gaining weight, and my waist continues to shrink. I bought new smaller pants, and now even they are loose on me. I'm not sure if I'm ready to go down another size now. I guess what I'm doing is working.

I picked my daughter up at the airport after not seeing her for a few months. We hugged, and she yelled, "Wow, you're skinny!"

I only lift weights for 5 or 10 minutes in the morning, but it seems to be making me quite a bit stronger. I'm starting to look "shapely" above the waist, too.
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Old 11-21-17, 11:27 AM   #24
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Thats not how it works, if you've already been doing HIIT as your training all summer and fall and peaked for your fitness for the year, an additional 6 weeks repeating this will only provide very minor changes in ftp and %v02max. Whereas if you maintain your fitness with a reduced load while losing 10lbs in that 6 weeks you will be faster. HIIT gains do no continue forever at a rapid rate
I know you are right, but I have never "plateaued" as some have experienced it...mostly because I don't stick with intervals for very long at a time, usually 3-4 weeks max...so I work for a few weeks, get faster nd stronger, the slack off and lose some fitness...repeat.
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Old 11-21-17, 01:09 PM   #25
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Ah, I see now. The answer to the OP's question is simply: no. That said, I don't think that most of us have specific winter performance goals, merely fitness goals. For me, that's a nice base and adequate maintenance of the high end systems so that I'm not starting from scratch.

Fitness might be described as ability to recover from hard efforts. For instance if you're fit and you hit the weights hard at the gym, you can hit them again a couple days later. OTOH if you're not fit, you might be incapacitated for a couple weeks. Similarly on a hard 3 hour ride, putting in an hour of zone 4 is no big deal if I'm fit. I can go on a backpack the next day no problem or do some mild intervals a couple days later. OTOH if I'm unfit I'm dragging my legs around the house for a few days after that. I once took a winter off and it took me until August to get fit again. Never again.

Lifting weights is sort of the same thing. I start from scratch again every October in the gym, just like on the bike. I spend the first 2 months in the gym just developing the conditioning and flexibility so that I can start lifting some heavier weights. The next 2 months are about multi-joint skills, form, and raising weights. Then I can finally lift enough weight to affect what I can do on the bike, right before the long rides start and the lifting has to ease off a little.

Tested cardio fitness does come up quite quickly when starting from scratch. But one is still only at the starting point. One is perhaps then fit enough to train. Aerobic capacity takes years to train up. Most folks say about 7 years of steady training to get as fast as you're probably going to get. We lose fitness noticeably in only 3 days without training.

However all the above is about fitness goals. If we don't have any, no problem. I have definite performance goals for next summer so I need to slowly ramp up my fitness, starting October 1. So far so good.
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