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Winter Training for Maintenance

Old 11-21-21, 03:01 PM
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fujidon
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Question Winter Training for Maintenance

I'm mostly a warmer weather cyclist. With winter approaching, I plan on spending more time on my trainer as I usually do. I retired this past spring, had more time to ride and had one of my best years of cycling which got me into pretty good shape. I don't want to lose all of that fitness over the winter, but nor do I expect to maintain all of it by just riding the trainer, especially since I hate every minute of sitting on a stationary bicycle.

Previous winters, I typically spent 30 to 45 minutes every other day to maintain some fitness. Of course, it depends on intensity too, but mostly I was somewhere around 80% effort of most road rides (I don't do lactate threshold stuff). That was sufficient to get me out for some easy spring rides, but I could tell that I had a little ways to go to get in the kind of shape I expect of myself. I'll probably do the same this winter even though I'll be a little dissapointed in how much fitness I lost compared to where I'm at now.

So, how much winter training do you do? How often, how much, how intense? Any tips/techniques for maintaining in-season fitness?
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Old 11-21-21, 04:34 PM
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i do zwift (mainly) on a smart trainer 5-6 days per week. zwift makes it much easier, ie: less boring. give RGT a try too, you can ride for free, been doing it for qhite some time now. i'll probably become a real paying customer becasue i am getting pretty tired of all the problems that zwift has, which in my opinion they have no excuse considering the customer base they have.
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Old 11-21-21, 05:15 PM
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What's RGT?
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Old 11-21-21, 05:31 PM
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From the beginning of April to the end of November I ride outside and average 100 miles per week. The last two winters I've used Zwift and it helped a lot in maintaining fitness over the winter. I also used Rouvy last year but switched to FulGaz a few months ago. Used to ride a stationary bike at the gym during the winter but that just made me hate life . The apps with the smart trainer have made indoor riding more engaging. My winter miles will vary between 75 and 100. I'll most likely try one of the multi-week training programs during January and February.
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Old 11-21-21, 05:35 PM
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If you are only riding 30-45 minutes on the trainer, then why would you only ride at 80% of your outdoor effort? Especially if your goal is to maintain fitness. If you get into structured training, you could make those 3-4 short indoor sessions per week really count.

I use Zwift and SYSTM for indoor winter training. Around 7-9 hours per week in total, but it varies. About 3 hours of that would be high intensity and the rest moderate. On a recovery week I might only do 2-3 hours of mostly low intensity spinning. I lose very little fitness over the winter with this regime. In fact I often get stronger as I ramp up the intensity and volume approaching Spring and my outdoor season.

I think what you are currently doing is pretty inefficient i.e. 30-45 minutes of moderate unfocused effort. Better than nothing, but you could use that time a LOT more effectively with the right program.
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Old 11-21-21, 06:49 PM
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RGT is only a bit similar to zwift in that what you see on the screen is a virtual world. in my experience all their routes are based on real routes, most of zwift's are completely fictitious but that does not mean they are anything less than a great ride. and RGT's route selection is really quite slim, they really need to up their game in that area. Rouvy, like KenCT mentioned are rides that were recorded bu anotehr rider so you see a bit of a movie while riding. have not tried this just yet but will likely do so soon.

most of my rides are just rides, i do some workouts but don't strive to accomplish anything other than i usually do a Vo2Max on thrusdays and that is aobut it for structure, the rest is random bs here and there. i never train when i ride on the road. too much fun to concentrate on this watt and that rpm.
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Old 11-22-21, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
If you are only riding 30-45 minutes on the trainer, then why would you only ride at 80% of your outdoor effort? Especially if your goal is to maintain fitness. If you get into structured training, you could make those 3-4 short indoor sessions per week really count.

I use Zwift and SYSTM for indoor winter training. Around 7-9 hours per week in total, but it varies. About 3 hours of that would be high intensity and the rest moderate. On a recovery week I might only do 2-3 hours of mostly low intensity spinning. I lose very little fitness over the winter with this regime. In fact I often get stronger as I ramp up the intensity and volume approaching Spring and my outdoor season.

I think what you are currently doing is pretty inefficient i.e. 30-45 minutes of moderate unfocused effort. Better than nothing, but you could use that time a LOT more effectively with the right program.
I'm 67 years old. I'm not "training" per se. I'm just trying to minimize age-related loss so I can enjoy long rides on nice days. Yes, I could go harder on the trainer, but I already find it unpleasant, I have no desire to make it more so.
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Old 11-22-21, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
I'm 67 years old. I'm not "training" per se. I'm just trying to minimize age-related loss so I can enjoy long rides on nice days. Yes, I could go harder on the trainer, but I already find it unpleasant, I have no desire to make it more so.
We're similar ages and live in the same climate and I hate the trainer, too. Your intensity and volume are too low

1. Try Zwift for intensity. They have group rides and also races
2. If it is sunny, low wind, and 45F......get outside for a longer ride. It is rare to have a full week without such a day and some winters, we do not have much snow.
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Old 11-22-21, 05:33 AM
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Doing intervals on the trainer somehow makes the time pass a bit faster. Mostly, I do other things aimed at maintaining my cycling fitness in the winter, and, in my case, slowing losses due to aging; mostly running and weight training. There’s a lot of literature out there on weight training as it relates to cycling. Adding to your exercIse repertoire and mixing up routines makes things less boring.
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Old 11-22-21, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
I'm 67 years old. I'm not "training" per se. I'm just trying to minimize age-related loss so I can enjoy long rides on nice days. Yes, I could go harder on the trainer, but I already find it unpleasant, I have no desire to make it more so.
So in that case I'm not really sure what you are expecting here? On the one hand you say that you don't want to lose your fitness gained over long summer rides, but on the other hand you don't want to ride as hard on the trainer. Are you expecting some sort of magic solution here?

You basically have two choices to maintain your cycling fitness during winter whilst not riding outdoors. 1) A high volume of long, low intensity trainer sessions (replicating your long outdoor rides) or 2) A low volume of higher intensity trainer sessions. Only the latter is really practical from both a time and sanity perspective. Combined with some simple off-bike strength training it can be very efficient and give surprisingly positive results. A good low volume structured training fitness plan (eg. from SYSTM or TrainerRoad) will transform your winter fitness without thrashing yourself or taking up more than a few hours per week. Not all intervals are max efforts. In fact relatively few are.

Your other alternative is to do what you did before and be a little disappointed.
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Old 11-22-21, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
So in that case I'm not really sure what you are expecting here?...
Pretty much what you just posted, thanks. But I was also hoping to hear from some cyclists who have a winter fitness plan that doesn't involve interactive software.

Thanks to posts like yours and others, I'm convinced that I'm not using my stationary bike time efficiently. For now, I'll continue to ride outdoors when the weather accommodates and when it doesn't, I'll still do the "easier" stationary rides for now. As spring approaches, I step up the volume/intensity.
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Old 11-22-21, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
Pretty much what you just posted, thanks. But I was also hoping to hear from some cyclists who have a winter fitness plan that doesn't involve interactive software.

Thanks to posts like yours and others, I'm convinced that I'm not using my stationary bike time efficiently. For now, I'll continue to ride outdoors when the weather accommodates and when it doesn't, I'll still do the "easier" stationary rides for now. As spring approaches, I step up the volume/intensity.
It might help to know what sort of indoor bike trainer you actually have? You don't need interactive software to do interval training. You just need a trainer with basic variable resistance and a plan - which you can get from a book or online source.

The easy 30-45 min stationary rides you are doing every other day are about as inefficient as you can get for maintaining your fitness. So you can only improve from there. The good news is that you don't need to spend more time on your indoor trainer. But you do need to spend it more wisely if you want to get results.

Last edited by PeteHski; 11-22-21 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 11-22-21, 07:35 AM
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January is usually the worst month to ride in New Jersey. Now thru Christmas, there are always a day or two per week with sun and low wind and often in the low 50's. Try to ride longer days when these opportunities arise.

I try to plan a 10-12 day trip to Florida and rack up the miles on a mini vacation. Just another idea.

Once Feb and March arrive, getting days in the 50's and even 60's happens more often. So, in short my strategy had always been to get from Christmas into February......with as little time on the trainer as possible. Zwift isn't bad even if I don't really like it, but it helps for sure
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Old 11-22-21, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
I'm mostly a warmer weather cyclist. With winter approaching, I plan on spending more time on my trainer as I usually do. I retired this past spring, had more time to ride and had one of my best years of cycling which got me into pretty good shape. I don't want to lose all of that fitness over the winter, but nor do I expect to maintain all of it by just riding the trainer, especially since I hate every minute of sitting on a stationary bicycle.

Previous winters, I typically spent 30 to 45 minutes every other day to maintain some fitness. Of course, it depends on intensity too, but mostly I was somewhere around 80% effort of most road rides (I don't do lactate threshold stuff). That was sufficient to get me out for some easy spring rides, but I could tell that I had a little ways to go to get in the kind of shape I expect of myself. I'll probably do the same this winter even though I'll be a little dissapointed in how much fitness I lost compared to where I'm at now.

So, how much winter training do you do? How often, how much, how intense? Any tips/techniques for maintaining in-season fitness?
I'm 64, so I'm in much the same boat as you. Previous winters, I'd set up a trainer, and a couple times I'd even ride it! Mostly it would bore me to tears and I had difficulty doing even 40 minutes. I'd still do Sunday rides if the weather permitted, but without the fitness from the midweek rides to support my fitness, the Sunday rides would be a lot shorter, so that when Daylight Savings Time started again in Spring, I was starting from far behind where I was in the Fall. In 2020, in the middle of peak riding season, we were hit with smoke from nearby wildfires which made riding outdoors unsafe. I started riding the trainer, and after a few weeks riding through some videos on YouTube, I tried Zwift. It made a HUGE difference! I was able to put in an hour long ride at pretty good intensity without dying of boredom. Whenever the air would clear, I'd ride on the road, but I could always get a ride in one way or the other. I carried this through the winter, riding 2-4 times a week on Zwift and one long outdoor ride on Sunday, and essentially maintained 6-8 hours a week of riding through the winter into the Spring, so I started the outdoor season in MUCH better shape than I ever had before. I started doing crit races on Zwift, which turned out to be a lot of fun, as well as a good workout.

So, as far at tips, I'd say get on Zwift or something similar, because it keeps the boredom at bay. Racing on Zwift can be fun, and you can use their structured training workouts, or others, to work on areas where your fitness might be lacking - mine is climbing, for example.
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