Ten Ways to Improve Your Cycling

If you ride bikes long enough you’ll make plans to do a ride or event that scares you a little bit. Like the Haute Route, a Gran Fondo or a gravel race in excess of 100 miles. 100 miles? Let’s go. 8,000 feet of climbing? Sure, no prob. The exhilaration from accomplishing such a physical feat is what makes cycling awesome. Sometimes we make these decisions spontaneously with friends at the moment of departure from the coffee shop. Sometimes it’s New Year’s Resolution or a challenge to motivate yourself. Whatever the reason chances are you'll want to improve your cycling. And if you want to improve your cycling by riding faster read on.

Our Top 10 Way to improve your cycling:

#1 Consistency: Ride and train consistently even if you are short on time. It’s the tortoise and the hare analogy and the tortoise who trains a little bit every day beats the hare every time. Make getting on your bike a daily priority even if its only for 30 minutes. 

#2 Zwift: speaking of getting on the bike to ride consistently, use Zwift to train indoors. It’s super time efficient and you won’t have to battle weather and daylight. Indoor Cycling has come a long, long much improved way since a few years ago. Zwift is fun, productive, and has an enormous amount of training rides to choose from. Listen to the podcast on using zwift to follow your plan. You can ride with friends from all over the world virtually on real former Olympic and World Championship courses, and up Mountains. Time actually passes by rather quickly when you are riding zwift and having fun.

#3 Group Rides: What’s better than the Saturday 10AM group ride? I rest my case. Make group rides a regular part of your weekly routine (consistency) to make your cycling social, productive and guess what? FUN! You’ll get out the door with more motivation and push yourself harder than you would alone. Group rides can be hard as heck, leaving you shattered afterwards but Fun with a capital F. As you would guess, group rides are a phenomenally fun way to get in lots of sweet spot training.

#4 CTL: Pay attention to how much training you are doing consistently over time. A great way to measure this is with the power based metric (nerd alert!) Chronic Training Load or CTL. CTL measures how much you have been training cumulatively over time. Its that consistency thing (#1) again! You can use training software like TrainingPeaks to upload your ride data to track your CTL along with a plethora of other pocket protector sports science metrics. We even podcasted about Masters CTL because as we age we we can't train as much :(

#5 Nutrition: You are a Ferrari and you want to put super high grade octane in your Ferrari. Like kale and salmon. Rice and quinoa - all the “Go Fast Foods”. Win in the kitchen by planning a nutritious meal and actually shopping for the ingredients and cooking them. The act of doing so sets an intention for your health and performance. Avoid added sugar at all costs and stay away from foods that come in a bag or a box. Check out our Winning in the Kitchen Meals plans for a step by step what to eat, how much and when - day by day in a simple easy to follow format.

#6 Yoga: Yoga trains your brain to be mentally tough which will come in handy during your challenging event. Just breathe! Side effects include a stronger core, more flexibility, better power production and improved bike handling. I think the pigeon pose will put 10 years back on your body. Goto a class and if that’s not possible, try YogaGlo (they even have a cycling class series).

#7 Strength and Conditioning: Successful Cyclists ‘lift’ as we wrote about in our Seven Habits of Successful Masters Cyclists. Not year round just in the off season. They lift in a cycling specific way such as this 10 week weight program. If it’s not the off season for you try these band exercises to activate your glutes from my friends at REVO PhysioTherapy. Plus, for a healthy pain free back, do this 12 minute Foundations Routine ‘everyday for no back pain ever’

#8 Sleep: sleep more - its the best recovery aid in the whole wide world. Eight hours per night is recommended, 8.5 is better. Less than 7 is not good at all. If you want to really ‘get into’ your sleep use a sleep app (or device like the Whoop) to measure the amount of sleep you achieve each night. Hint: it’s less than you think but now that you are measuring sleep you can manage it better. Successful Cyclists goto bed earlier! Listen to our podcast with Whoop - its like a powermeter for your recovery

#9 Hire a Coach: Coaching is so much more than a training calendar and power files. Its a relationship with an expert invested in your goals ready to share their experience to help you. Granted a well thought out scientifically designed training calendar and power based training are fundamental but the 8 items I described above are next level. Its like the home depot commercial, “You can do it, we can help” . It takes time and it will be hard but ho. lee. moo. lee. when you tackle that climb and crush your ride it is worth every ounce of work. The podiums are nice too!

#10 Follow a Training Plan: Like Coaching, a well thought out focus training plan designed by an expert will help you almost as much as coaching and as much if you can simply follow the plan exactly as its prescribed. We like to say "If you can follow a plan, you can get faster" and its so true!

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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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