Now that your season is over, it’s time to rest, repair and start preparing for next season! Depending on when your season starts and ends, you might have up to 6 months off until the new season, so make the most of it!
Assuming that you have your race calendar organised for next year (or at least know when your first race is), start by working back from that date. Let’s say your first race is on 1st April. Ideally we want to do some race specific training to gradually ramp up fitness levels so that we hit that date in peak physical condition. If you follow our 10 week Race Programme, that means you need to start the programme on 22nd Febuary. Assuming your season ends in October, that gives you 3/4 months worth of training to make some real off season gains. But what do you work on?
Off-season is the ideal time to work on strength and power output as it can be quite time consuming and intensive on the central nervous system so it is not very realistic to work on it during the race season. We don’t need to worry about cardio or high intensity training at this stage of the year, but instead we can work on our explosive power on things like a Wattbike or rower. This should be mixed in with specific strength and power training and addressing any strength or mobility imbalances that have appeared during the season. You should focus on moving heavy weights with explosivity in things like the squat, deadlift, hang clean and barbell row. At the start of your strength training block, video yourself doing your exercises to ensure that you have good form. If you start adding a load of weight into a movement that isn’t performed with good form then you are on a fast track to injury and you will lose a lot of time in the gym and the bike whilst you are recovering.
Strength and power are two elements you should be looking to improve, but they are increased in different ways. Strength is increased by performing 4-6 reps with a weight about 80-90% of your 1 rep max (1 rep max (1RM) = the amount of weight you can lift for 1 repetition only) and steadily progressing the amount of weight you can lift and thereby increasing your strength. Power training involves using a much lighter weight (about 50% of 1RM) and performing 1-3 reps, but performing them with absolute maximum effort. The goal here is to absolutely explode the weight in the concentric part of the movement. For example, if you are power training in the squat, you would squat down with control, pause at the bottom, and then explode back up as if you are trying to launch the bar up into the ceiling with just your legs.
Injuries and issues
The race season can take a big toll on the body and bike, so at the end of the season take stock of what your current issues are. Have you got any niggling injuries that you haven’t been able to shake, does your knee or back start hurting after an hour on the bike, do your hips feel really tight? There can be any number of problems that can be picked up in the season, so spend some time to really identify areas that you need to repair and improve. Little niggles and tightness can usually be treated by some mobility and foam rolling work, so things like yoga can work wonders.
The UK winter isn’t an ideal time to practice riding at race pace, as mud, wind, rain and snow usually make riding at any kind of speed very risky if not impossible unless you have some really good all weather trails (e.g. Bikepark Wales). Winter is a really good time to work on slower and techier riding like rocks and roots, off camber trails and even just sessioning corners and jumps. The speed can come later in the year once the trails are drier and hopefully the skills that you have worked on over the winter will enable you to carry even more speed once the trails dry out. Another great option is to start hitting your local pump track! They are great all weather places to ride and you can work on your pumping, cornering and jumping along with your fitness, all in one location!
The sooner you start, the more time you have for gainz! So let’s get started!