Fitness: How to increase performance when you can’t increase volume

Check out Cyclingnews's regular Q&As

Twenty minutes on a turbo trainer can make a big difference to your bike fitness

Our sister website Cyclingnews runs a regular series of fitness Q&As. In this week’s edition, topics covered include maintaining cycling fitness when you can’t be on the bike, whether to climb in the seat or out of the saddle, and how to cope with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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Also covered is a question that regularly crops up – how can you increase cycling performance when you can’t increase training volume? To whet your appetite, you can read the full question and answer below. For more, visit Cyclingnews.

Question: “I’m a 45 year-old male with a job that requires me to work long hours. Riding more than one day a week is out of the question and group rides are difficult to arrange, so I ride solo 35-40 Saturdays a year in a variety of weather. My Saturday rides are typically 80-100 miles with around 4,000-6,000ft of climbing. I try to sprint traffic light to traffic light in the first and last five miles as I work my way out and back into the city. My fitness level has remained consistent over the past two years, with roughly the same average speed and heart rate on each ride. I would like to increase my fitness and ride faster, especially when climbing, but the training resources I have reviewed always begin by recommending more days per week on the bike. Do you have any suggestions given my constraints? Thanks, John.”

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Answer from‘s Scott Saifer: “Hi John, well, I’m certainly not going to suggest that you go longer on Saturday. What sort of work do you do and do you really have no opportunity to train in any way on the other six days? If your job is very physical, you’re probably doing what you can. If not, a short run, spin on the trainer or a few minutes spent climbing stairs in an office building every other day could help improve your bike performance. Any aerobic exercise over 20 minutes is probably worth something. Even a shorter routine of core training and squats done on the floor as you roll out of bed could make a difference. You don’t have to ride multiple hours to get a training benefit.”