Depending on where you live, you can spend all winter pedaling if the weather is good enough, or you may be condemned to parking the bike for a couple of months. Don’t panic. At ROTOR we know how important it is for you not to get out of shape, so we are going to give you some basic tips to get the most out of winter and start next year stronger than ever.
October, November or maybe December is the end point for many of you when it comes to ‘hanging up the bike’ for a few weeks and not only to rest, but also to set goals and training plans for the following year. Depending on the level of training you have or just how you want to affront next season, the months of December and January are mainly to let your body and mind relax and recover, but they are also a perfect time to work the base for your next season.
RELAX AND GYM
The first piece of advice we can give you is not to end the season suddenly. For example, if your last competition is a Sunday at the end of November or December, it is important that you continue pedaling and training at a low-medium level for at least two more weeks, so that the body and muscles can relax and get rid of all the stress of the season. It is also a good time to go pedaling without pressure and without a clear objective, and start enjoying the bike and perhaps the landscape that you never stop to observe. Choose different routes, discover new places and gradually lower the intensity level until you are relaxed and can stop a few days. Resting one, two or three weeks is not a problem at all. In many cases it is the best advice if you have had a very hard season. Disconnecting mentally is sometimes more important than doing it on a muscular level.
If this is your case and you have chosen to rest for a couple of weeks, you can progressively return to training in different ways. The gym is always a good option because after resting a few days, you can start with very different training routines and you can work on other facets such as flexibility or the strengthening of muscle in areas that have become weakened by the position on the bike. Working the back, as well as the core (abdominal area), hamstrings and neck and shoulder areas are very important since they suffer a lot due the static and repetitive position whilst on the bike for hours at a time.
Another very interesting option is guided yoga classes, Pilates, or any of the body-mind training options that exist. With this you will not only be able to work the entire body muscularly, but it will also help you to mentally recover all your energy. In addition, these types of exercises usually carry a very high emphasis on working joint mobility and muscle flexibility. This is a very important point for cyclists, since as said before, the position on the bike is very static and is repeated for hours many months a year. It is very easy to meet objectives and see how your body evolves at the level of flexibility and mobility, so it is recommended that if you manage to have a routine, keep it during the year so that it can support you for specific bicycle training.
SWIMMING, HIKING, SKIING AND EVEN CROSSFIT
Why not? Cyclists tend to be a little “closed minded” when it comes to trying other sports. On the one hand, cycling training takes up much of the day and on the other hand, our muscles and weight have become very adapted to this sport. The end of the season and the winter pre-season is the ideal time to practice complementary sports that will serve as the basis for the coming season. The pool will help us work the back muscles that suffer so much on the handlebars. The trekking outings in the mountain will strengthen our knees, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings as well as serving as a good mental disconnection exercise.
Cross-country skiing is one of the sports that has become more and more popular with professional cyclists in the off season. On a functional level, the lower body is worked in a similar way to what we do on the bike. It will help us coordinate better and takes a lot of skill and reaction speed when it comes to descending. It will also help us work the back and shoulder muscles, which will strengthen it in order to improve the position on the bike.
Another option that is gaining momentum in the cycling world is Crossfit. And not because we want to gain kilos of muscle in the upper body, but to learn other types of exercises that improve the antagonistic muscles (the muscles that we use pedaling on the bike) to balance muscle groups and joint strength. Training strength-resistance and with it the power and reaction capacity is essential as part of the pre-season training, so that the muscles and joints are prepared for the rest of the competition season where the training becomes mainly of the resistance type.
In short, take advantage of the end of the season and the winter months to disconnect from the bike in some way and work the body in ways that you are not used to. And no, I have not forgotten the roller work! Roller work with and without a powermeter will help you to not lose muscle tone and you can continue training without leaving home. It is another alternative, but the interesting thing about winter is to be able to prepare the body for the coming season with other types of exercises and sports that make you detoxify from so many months of cycling.