What type of training should I do this winter?

Winter Cycling

We see these main categories for winter training

  1. Higher Intensity
  2. Zone 2 — Low Intensity
  3. Polarized or mostly easy with some intensity
  4. Classic Periodization
  5. Chase the squirrels — How many people ride in Zwift

So there is a lot that can be said about each of these choices.

Let’s start with, any of them might be the best choice for you!!!

If you have any risk of losing motivation and stopping training during the winter that by far the most important one is the one that brings you the most enjoyment, and having fun should always be a top priority.

Any of these choices can be done in any training app but option #2, #3, and #5 stand out for TrainerDay and our training app being one of the best choices. Any of these choices can be static training, meaning do it as planned no matter what. Any of them can also be made a more dynamic style of training, meaning change your training during the workout. We are strong believers in dynamic training and training by feel.

ERG mode should be a convenience not a contract!

Our app works extremely well with the dynamic model of training because you can go quickly from HR mode to ERG mode to slope mode within a workout as well as very quickly raise the intensity and even merge different workouts together on the fly.

I am not answering the question. Which is best?

Regarding #1 — High intensity indoor training. “i.e. TrainerRoad style.” You can design hard plans in Coach Jack or pick from our community workouts and plans but is this the best choice? Many riders understandably want to do a reverse periodization style of training, meaning high intensity interval training indoors in the winter and just have fun outdoors and not do structured training. This sounds perfect but it does have some draw backs.

Many people ride fairly hard outdoors so that can mean that you end up with a December to June or longer doing higher intensity training, this includes your more focused high intensity at the beginning, which is the reverse of normal endurance training (i.e. reverse periodization).

The downside risk is that anyone riding like this is at high risk of burnout, over training or at least lowered motivation by the time they get to May/June. I was talking to pro coach Andrea Morelli (the designer of Coach Jack plans). Andrea, does not feel reverse periodization working very well from a top performance perspective and you would need to really do it right it to make it work for you.

One addition to to a high intensity winter could include doing a small base period in early March to let your body recover, but that’s not easy for most people. Beautiful weather starting and you need to do focus on going really slow outdoors, good luck with that, strong dedication. Anyway it can be done, but just training hard in the winter and hoping for the best in late spring is not likely effective.

Option #2 — i.e. pure base — can be very effective but you need to fully buy into the idea, it’s a mental struggle if you don’t believe in it. Watch some Zone 2 GCN videos or google Inigo San Milan and see what he is suggesting. It has been shown this can be very effective on as little as 6 hours a week, but this is much longer discussion. One great benefit is you can be super hungry and excited when outdoor season starts and another is that indoor you can just watch Netflix and pedal easy 🙂

Number #3 and #4 overlap but this is very classic style and how most pros train. They don’t exactly follow the 80/20 principal of polarized training but they do include a a lot of easy in their training, getting progressively harder towards race season.

Coach Jack creates great plans that fit traditional periodization and you could just do base, build and peak periods. Indoors it could be more structured and outdoors can move to more dynamic training by feel just focusing mostly on volume and trying to control the urge and moderate your intensity so your outdoor season starts a bit easier and moves to higher intensity as your season progresses. It does not need to be super strict training to see good/great results just following the basic good practices in training. You don’t need to be spending long periods of time at threshold at the beginning of the season, wait until you get closer to your peak season. Don’t forget the critical daily, weekly, monthly and yearly recovery periods. i.e. Sleep, days off, recovery weeks and base periods.

And finally #5 — Chasing squirrels it sounds negative but actually can be very fun and the reason that Zwift is so successful as people get motivated by other people around and want to chase the ones that are about your speed or race. Generally this would not be considered an optimum training plan and aligns much closer to high intensity winters, but if it motivates you and you are smart with it probably including a mini base period in the late winter early spring it might be part of a plan that works for you. It’s not the way most pros train but we are strong believers in doing what’s fun and trying to manage your stress and health around this.

If you want to chase squirrles but do it right include easy days in ERG mode. You can even use our app to control your trainer in Zone 2 heart rate mode while riding in Zwift and recording your workout.

At TrainerDay we are just here to here to help cyclists solve their problems. That can include smarter training, avoiding burn out, reaching peak performance or simple just making it easier to do the workouts they way you want on the platform you want. If we can be a part of your solution that is great.

Remember buying TrainerDay from our site is $3.99/month or $39.95/year and comes with 100% money back guarantee. Buying from Apple or Google costs a bit more and we can’t offer the money back. Thanks so much.

Check it out https://trainerday.com

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