Helping You Ride Stronger, Look Better, and Feel Great!

5 Things You Must Do This Winter If You Want To Ride Strong In The Spring

While it may seem that the upcoming road racing season is light years away, it’s sure to arrive faster than you expected. If you don’t start preparing now, your first race will be here before you even dust off the indoor trainer! And you won’t be ready for it, which is the bigger problem.

So if you don’t want to get dropped on the first spring ride, start doing these five things today!

cat nap

1. Rest and Recover

If you do one thing this winter to prepare for next season, it should be rest. Sit, lie down, take a cat nap, sleep all day, whatever you want. Dedicate one to two weeks to getting fully recovered. I highly recommend taking a couple days to just sleep and watch TV. Seriously!

Everyone focuses on their intervals, training rides, and/or strict diets all year, and then they forget about resting properly! You need to take some time away from the bike and away from the gym, and you should even take a break from thinking about cycling so your mind can get a rest, too.

And yes, eat the foods you’ve been missing!

There are a few reasons for this. First, the rest gives your muscles a chance to recuperate and rebuild themselves. Second, it allows some time for your body to recover from overuse injuries (being hunched over on a bike, spinning your legs at 90 rpm all summer long takes a toll.) Third, and possibly most important, is that some time away from the bike will let you come back with renewed excitement for riding!

(Getting dropped on the first group ride or race in the spring isn’t always a bad thing if your goal races are later in the season.)

crossfit group workout

2. Cross Training (and Core Conditioning)

Once you’re all rested up, you need to improve your full-body strength so that you can withstand a season full of long, strenuous rides. See, cycling requires a strong core and fairly strong arms, but it does nothing more than build your quads. So if you want the strength to maneuver your bike up 21 switchbacks or navigate technical singletrack, you’ll need to do more than ride.

There are quite a few ways to do this. You could do some running, which works the upper body a bit more than cycling, and since it’s a higher impact, weight-bearing exercise, it will build your bones and help prevent osteoporosis. You could also try weight lifting, calisthenics, group fitness classes like Pilates, or one of the many core-conditioning workout programs you can find these days. Maybe even CrossFit. Any of those should strengthen your core and increase your stamina so you can ride faster, longer.

yoga class

3. Flexibility and Mobility Training (and Yoga!)

As nice as it is to have big quads and a strong core to help deliver power to your legs, you won’t be getting the most out of your muscles if they are tight and constricted. Take a yoga class or two this winter and you won’t regret it! Even better, go once each week.

Yoga will certainly improve your flexibility, and your mental focus will improve even more. As rejuvenating as yoga can be, those poses can be both physically and mentally exhausting! Your mind is getting a workout!

Then not only will you ride more comfortably in an aerodynamic position, you’ll produce more power at the same time. You might even be able to get a more aggressive bike fit.

Plus, you’ll feel better, happier, and be more relaxed all day long.

When you’re not in class, get out the foam roller and work on any trouble spots. (Don’t have a foam roller? Put it on your wish list.)

Serious issues? See a chiropractor.

leafy greens salad

4. Lose Weight

Here’s the tough one, but it’s here for a reason. Anyone that’s ever dieted during an intense training schedule knows that it doesn’t work. If you are training hard, you need to eat; it’s as simple as that.

Unfortunately, that means that you need to diet right now, during the off-season… Yep, whatever cheat meals you allowed yourself during your recovery weeks will need to be scaled back down. It’s weight loss time now. Sorry!

To look on the bright side though, if you keep the weight down now, you’ll be able to eat quite a bit once your spring training plan starts! 🙂

If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of athlete, Precision Nutrition has put together a FREE starter kit to help you lose weight and get in shape this winter, no matter how busy you are. I highly suggest you download that right away.

snow-covered bikes

5. Ride Your Bike

While the off-season is a time for rest and cross-training, riding your bike once a week or so is a good idea. If you don’t ride at all, your body is going to hurt after your first 20 mile cruise in the spring. That’s why I advocate riding just enough to make sure your body doesn’t forget what cycling is!

If you want to ride outside, more power to you! With proper clothing and good bike handling skills, it’s fun! But it’s easier to just ride indoors. Get a trainer or rollers, and a fan, and you’re all set. (You also save the pain and aggravation of getting dressed in 10 layers, installing numerous lights, and cleaning slush off your bike each night.)

As I mentioned, the key to success is moderation.

So, consider a Spinning class on Thursday morning, or let me help you design a winter training plan.

Do those five things and you should be on your way to riding strong all season long!

Photo Credits: Kenny Louie | Rose Physical Therapy Group | Eli Christman | Jennifer | Niels Heidenreich

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1 Comment
  1. Looks like I have a busy winter ahead of me!

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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