How To Maintain Cycling Fitness In Winter (2023 EDITION)
Don't let the cold keep you from your cycling goals - even though it's colder outside, that doesn't mean you can't still get a great bike ride in.
In fact, by adapting your training and using some of the tips we provide, you may find that winter cycling is actually more fun and rewarding than riding during the warmer months.
Winter cycling can be a fun and challenging way to stay fit during the colder months. With a little bit of preparation, you can cycle through winter without sacrificing your fitness or health.
- Know what your goals are and create a training plan that keeps your focus on those.
- Rather than training hard, train smart. This means taking advantage of the time you have available and focusing on quality over quantity.
- It's important to rest, as too much training can lead to burnout and decreased performance.
- Have fun while riding! This will help keep you motivated throughout the winter.
Get Clear On Your Goals & Create A Plan
Fitness goals are important and never more during the colder months of the year. When you’re trying to stay in cycling shape and improve your fitness, having a plan is key to CRUCIAL.
Your training plan doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Start by deciding how often you want to ride during the week and then map out your rides accordingly.
If you can only ride once or twice a week, make those rides count by doing some interval training or hill repeats.
If you have the luxury of being able to ride more often, take advantage of that and use your extra rides as opportunities to do some longer endurance rides.
These type of rides will help build your aerobic base and prepare you for the challenges of riding in the cold.
Track & Test Your Improvements
If the goal is improvement, then you need to be tracking your progress. This will help you determine if you’re on track to reach your goals and make necessary adjustments to your training.
Whilst making use of the various fitness tracker, heart rate monitors and the like, what we really mean is, be mindful of your perceived effort while riding.
This is a much more accurate way to gauge intensity, rather than using power data or heart rate zones.
Additionally, testing yourself periodically will give you valuable feedback on your current fitness level and progress.
Time trials are a great way to do this, as they can be done solo and don’t require a lot of equipment.
Simply ride as fast as you can for a given distance, then compare your results over time to see how you’re improving.
Keep An Eye On Nutrition
We know there will be eyes rolling at this but trust us, what you eat and drink has a direct impact on how you feel and perform when riding.
This is especially true in the winter, when your body is working overtime to stay warm.
Make sure you’re eating enough calories to support your riding. If you’re trying to lose weight, winter is not the time to do it.
You’ll be much better off cutting back on calories during the spring and summer when your body doesn’t have to work as hard to stay warm.
In addition to eating enough calories, make sure you’re getting enough protein and fat.
These nutrients will help keep your energy levels up and repair any muscle damage from riding.
And finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated! It’s easy to get dehydrated during the winter, since you’re not sweating as much.
But if you’re not drinking enough water, you’ll likely feel tired and sluggish on the bike. So make sure to drink plenty of fluids, even if you’re not thirsty.
Find A Realistic Routine That Works For You
Goals are amazing things to have and, sure - getting out on your bike more this winter is a great way to stay fit! However, if you don’t have a plan that realistically works for your lifestyle, it’s all too easy to get demotivated and we all know what happens when that kicks in... So, be honest with yourself when creating your winter cycling routine.
Ask yourself questions like: How often can I realistically ride? What type of rides can I fit into my schedule? How will the weather impact my riding? etc.
By taking the time to find a routine that works for you and your lifestyle, you’re much more likely to stick with it and see results.
Train smart, not hard
Who doesn't love a hack?! This one is such an important point, we’re going to shout it from the rooftops... The key to winter training is to train SMART, not hard!
What do we mean by this? Well, simply put, you need to make the most of the time you have available and focus on quality over quantity.
The days are short and the temperatures drop quickly, so there’s no need to try and cram in a long ride just for the sake of it. Instead, focus on riding at a high intensity and getting the most out of each ride.
This doesn’t mean you have to go all-out every time you get on the bike. In fact, that’s a sure-fire way to burn out... and quickly.
Instead, mix things up and include a variety of intensity levels in your rides. For example, you might do some hard efforts one day, followed by an easier recovery ride the next.
The key is to listen to your body and make sure you’re not overdoing it. With smart training, you’ll see results much faster than if you just ride hard all the time. Which leads us quite nicely onto..:
Don't Forget To Rest
For a long time, this was considered a no-no in the world of sport. The general consensus was that more training = better results.
However, we now know that this isn’t strictly true - in fact, too much training can actually lead to burnout and decreased performance.
So it’s important to find a balance between training and rest. If you don't, your body will likely find a way of doing it for you!
Above all else,...
Make It Fun
There aren't many things that compare to the feeling of cruising along on your bike on a beautiful day. Unfortunately, winter riding doesn’t always offer up that same feeling... But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable!
One of the best ways to make winter riding more fun is to find a riding buddy or group to ride with. Not only do you have a built-in safety net if something "unexpected" happens - it will also make the time fly by and you’ll be more likely to push yourself to ride at a higher intensity.
Another great tip is to mix up your routes. If you’re stuck riding the same roads all the time, it’s easy to get bored. So try exploring new trails or routes to keep things interesting.
Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back now and then... Riding in the winter takes dedication and commitment, so make sure you celebrate your successes along the way.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining your cycling fitness all winter long! Just remember to have fun and enjoy the ride.
Enjoy the rides!
Ultimately, if you want to be successful in your training this winter, it's important to know what your goals are and the direction you need to go in to achieve these.
Training harder is not always the answer to the problem - train smart to take advantage of the time you have available and focusing on quality over quantity.
Don't forget to rest as well, as too much training can lead to burnout and decreased performance.
Keep things fun by mixing up your rides and making sure to rest so that you're never too fatigued to enjoy yourself.
What strategies do you have for staying motivated during colder months?
Let us know in the comments!