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Home > Training > Offseason training    
Offseason preparation
by Philippe Baudoin


© Wojciech Gajda - Fotolia.com
    

In Autumn, vary the activities !

The arrival of autumn is an important step in the cycling season. Shorter days, less pleasant weather, drop of temperatures along with a fatigue caused by the accumulation of efforts can lead to weariness and discouragement. All these elements contribute to make training less regular and the practice of cycling less active. The offseason is a time in between where focus should be put on preparing the next season. Is it time for a break or, on the contrary, to practice intensive indoor training ? Should outdoor cycling be stopped ? What activities should be favoured ? Instructions.

 

The offseason in brief : take a break !

The offseason period marks the end of the season and competitions, and introduces the next season. It starts around October-November and lasts about 3 to 5 months, depending on the country.

If stopping all physical activities for 1 to 2 months during the offseason was common in the past, things have changed nowadays. Professionals agree that the activity should not be cut, apart from a possible break of 10 to 15 days maximum. A longer break could be harmful, if not fatal, to the next season.

This active rest period must be considered as an opportunity for a psychological break while working enough to maintain good physical condition until the next season. You must decrease bike rides and progressively replace them with other endurance sports.
 

Objective : rewind while maintaining training

The offseason should be the time for :

    Maintaining good physical condition, maintaining training level and preparing for the next season;
    Relaxing, breaking monotony and recharging batteries;
    Strengthening the muscles the least solicited.

Stay fit !

Maintain a good fitness level so to not start from scratch at the next season. Practice endurance work and try to maintain VO2 max at its highest level (see how to measure VO2max) and anaerobic threshold.

Take it easy !

The offseason should be an opportunity to relax. Please yourself, vary activities and do not put pressure on yourself ! Break the monotony and rewind after the difficulties of the past season.

Strengthen the muscles the least used

As your activity is less sustained, make the most of your free time to work flexibility, reinforce muscles the least used and do stretching (see our article on strengh training)

Besides these main objectives, the offseason is a good opportunity to take a step back to the last season, make a point and improve cycling skills. This period, associated to healthy food and low intensity sporting activities, is favorable to the elimination of toxins and to the preparation of muscles for future efforts when resuming activity.
 

In practice

Practice other sports

Decrease pace and practice other activities than cycling. Give a preference to endurance sports such as swimming, jogging, walking, skiing or mountain biking. When cycling, work steady long distances and plan for pleasant rides, varying from your regular routes, the idea being to break the routine and avoid boredom. Avoid violent and collective sports or any sport that cause too many important changes in heart rate.

Keep low the intensity of your workouts so to allow all capillaries to open, to optimize the oxygenation of muscles and to eliminate toxins accumulated during the season. Plan short (30 to 60 minutes duration) workout sessions 2 or 3 times a week.

Rewind !

The sports you practice during the offseason must not be too intense. Time for competition is over ! The objective is to relax while maintaining training level. Enjoy this time to renew contacts with friends, organize outings together, favor Sunday family outings. This time must be used to reduce pace and not for adding stress.

Pay a special attention to your food hygiene

Attach special attention to your food. Eat healthy and drink plenty, water of course...

Reinforce muscles

Apart from the legs, cycling has almost no action on other muscles of the body (back, abdominals, arms, etc.). Use your free time to strengthen them (see our article on strengh training). Most gyms offer a GPP programs (General Physical Preparation) which can help you.

Do stretching

Do stretching right after your workouts, while still warm. Stretch all joints. This practice must of course be maintained throughout the year but the time of the offseason is an opportunity to allocate more time on it.

Work velocity and coordination

Effective pedaling is obtained by pedaling in circle, pushing and pulling the pedals in a continuous and smooth effort. It is not innate and is forgotten very quickly. It must be worked throughout the year along with velocity, the technique consisting in turning legs rapidly. The indoor bike trainer is a useful tool for these exercises (see our explanations and tips for indoor bike training).
 

Learn more

    The Handbook of Amateur Athletes - Advises and tips
    Indoor bike training
    Cycling tips for Autumn
    More training tips

Philippe Baudoin
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