Warm, sunny weather has meant that many bicyclists are renewing their training activities. Message boards are abuzz with cyclists sharing their latest and greatest accomplishments. Across the country, individuals are prepping their bikes and their bodies, and this often means high intensity training.
There is, however, too much of a good thing, and if you aren’t training properly, you may be doing more harm than good. Rushing and overtraining can result in stressing your body and may even cause injuries. In fact, training mistakes may be hampering your efforts to strengthen your body.
Bicycle Training Mistakes
- Pushing too hard, too soon. If you are like me, you push-push-push to near maximum intensity when training. But if you increase your training levels significantly over a short period of time, you face burnout, exhaustion, and injury. It is important to plan out changes in intensity ahead of time, and then slowly implement them as part of your training regime. A recommended suggestion is to increase training volume by approximately 10 to 15 percent per week. If you have been biking 7 hours a week and increase to 8 or 9 hours over the course of a week, you are on track. But if you’ve only been riding 4 hours a week and you suddenly jump to 10 hours, you are probably pushing too hard, too fast. Our bodies strengthen and recover best when increases in training are slow and steady rather than rapid. Overtaxing your body is a training mistake that many of us make, and can be disastrous for your body.
- Comparing yourself to others. Message boards, forums, and cycling clubs are full of cyclists, bragging about their latest accomplishments. Chances are, no matter how fast, efficient, and strong you are, there is someone out there who can surpass you. Some people are motivated by training with their peers. But others feel undue pressure to train at potentially unsafe and unhealthy levels. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by others in your group. Instead, look towards more advanced members of your club or team for training tips while incorporating them into your own training regime.
- Training on the bike alone. Cross training is important for complete fitness, and without it you will find it difficult to increase your cycling abilities. Balance, adaptive fitness, and strength training all contribute to physical fitness. Work closely with a trainer who will help you maximize performance without straining your body. High volume training activities may induce fatigue during your ride, so aim for low volume training.
- Eating empty calories. It’s hard to resist treats and high-calorie foods under any circumstances, and when you are training you might feel you have an excuse to overeat. Remember, however, that junk foods will impair you training efforts. Instead, stick with good calories by increasing your intake of lean proteins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
- Failing to stretch. It’s not unusual to experience an increase in physical pain and discomfort when you increase you training levels. Additional time on the bike at higher intensities will take its toll on your body. Strengthening exercises like yoga and tai chi will help accustom your body to the physical stresses of cycling. Physical pain and discomfort will be reduced, and your muscle tension will decrease. A brief session of stretching before cycling may decrease the tendency to strain your muscles on the bike.
What training mistakes have you made in the past? Let us know in the comments below.
Kass & Moses is a group of bicycle injury lawyers who are also cyclists. Call upon them for a free consultation if you are involved in a bicycle crash.