How to make training days count

Ben Swift's tips from the top

Make the most of your training

UAE Team Emirates pro rider and 2012 Olympic track world champion, Ben Swift, tell us how he makes his training days count.


1. Light start

On endurance training days I’m up early to spend some time with my son while my other half gets a lie-in. Then I have a light, protein-focused breakfast like porridge for the drip-feed energy I’ll need.

Depending where I am I’ll either be hitting the hills almost immediately — if I’m home on the Isle of Man — or else a 40-minute ride out to them if I’m in Sheffield.

2. Devote time to it

The only structure I’ll have as such is to put some additional effort in on the back end of the ride.

I’ll aim to be out for five or six hours for an endurance training ride doing a variety of manoeuvres. It means packing for the likelihood that you’ll hit harsh conditions and arming yourself with slow-release snacks.

3. Don’t go it alone

Perhaps the only downside to hill training is when you do it alone. Cycling is a social sport and doing hills with others means you get more motivation and more enjoyment from a session.

If you can break a hill into sections — tackling each one in a different way — it’s more fun and better all-round training, breaking into an initial acceleration, powering at the next bend, then sprinting to the top if you know the hill well.

4. Find your fix

Practise climbing techniques including spinning, pushing bigger gears and standing to find different ways of combating hills. On the tougher climbs I fix my gaze on the wheel ahead, focus on my breathing and not let the long haul get to me mentally.

When overtaking on hills timing is key. Keep a smooth, fast pace, avoid putting in a spurt if you don’t want to be overtaken yourself when you reduce your speed.

5. Make a day of it

After I get back for lunch it’s about recovery unless I feel the need to put in some hard efforts on the turbo.

I prefer to ease up and then do some core stability training and conditioning in the evening — stretching and light twisting work — although I’ll already be thinking about the next day’s ride.