Winter is not for sissies. They’re dark and cold, and can be downright miserable, which means trainging takes a back seat as we avoid the cold at all costs. This means starting from scratch in Spring, but in actual fact you don’t have too, we give you other options to beat the cold and keep fit through the Winter Months.
If you’re not one of the brave souls willing to tackle the dark of night or risk skating across the tar then your first option is to hit the gym, which gives you a number of cross-training options. During the packed cycling season, there is often little time for anything other than riding, so the winter months are an opportune time to get back to some strength work. Spending some time on strength work will go a long way to keeping you injury-free and will make you stronger and faster come the start of the new season. Here are a few recommended cross-training workouts and their benefits:
32 minutes on the rowing machine can go a long way. A five-minute easy warm-up, followed by five, two minute routines on high resistance with three minutes of easy rowing between each really gets the heartrate up. This develops all round body strength and increases your cardio capacity.
20 minutes climbing “stairs”. What does that mean? Try this. Climb onto the static bike for five minutes to get the legs going. Now, do ten, 30 second reps as fast as you can with 30 seconds of easy riding in between, then cool down for another five minutes. This develops strength in the legs, speed, as well as cardio capacity.
Swimming has, and always will be one of the best fitness exercises. A 20-minute swimming workout is always good. A five minute easy warm up followed by ten minutes of one hard stroke followed by one lap of easy swimming really works the muscles. This helps develop core strength and lung capacity. Always start with short swims, never overdo it. When you do quality sessions outside, you’re working harder and therefore generating a lot more heat, which makes colder mornings or evenings far more doable. Therefore, my advice is to use the static bikes for your easy rides and hit the road or the trails for the balance. Another great option is to head out for a quick ride during your lunch break or between meetings. Instead of sitting at your desk putting calories in, hit the road and burn excess calories while setting yourself up for a great season. Here are a few great lunchtime workouts to keep you improving your fitness during winter:
Midday Option 1: Take the Stairs
Workout: 20min easy warm-up, then 20×20-30m stair sprints with walk down recovery, then 15min easy cool-down.
Benefit: Develops your explosive power and fires up your fast-twitch muscle fibres.
Midday Option 2: Ride Hard & Rest
Workout: 20min easy warm-up, then 4x2min hard with 1min rest between, then 15min easy cool-down.
Benefit: Develops your speed endurance.
Midday Option 3: Hop to it!
Workout: 20min easy warm-up, then 2-4x100m single leg hops (50m on right leg, then 50m on left leg) with 3min easy run between, then 10min easy cool-down.
Benefit: Develops base strength. (If you’re a novice, start with 1 or 2 reps and gradually build up from there.)
Before you know it the smell of spring will fill the air and the weekends will be packed with races. Don’t waste the last six weeks or so of winter tucked up under the duvet or stuck behind your desk. Get out there and start working on your weaknesses. What you do now will go a long way to ensuring a great and fulfilling season.