Winter training. LAS (Long and slow), or HIIT (High intensity interval training)? Which is best?
Well, in short. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Traditionally, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the ‘off-season’ is often considered as being from November to February and this has been a time for us to build our endurance base, which means lots of long, slow miles but very little intensity.
The traditional training pyramid appropriately describes that ‘The wider the base, the higher the peak’. True in pyramids, mountains and fitness alike.
But recent enhancements in the understanding of training stress show that this isn’t the most effective method for everyone. To work out what is best for you, you first need to identify what your goals are for the upcoming year.
A - Short distance - This can be anything from track sprinting, up to traditional TT distances or shorter road races
B - Long distance - This is generally considered as cyclists aiming at races over 100 miles in distance, audax riders, or tourers.
The general understanding now in the performance world is that as you get closer to your target event, your training should match that type of effort. This translates, loosely to:
A - Short distance - Traditional style conditioning. Building a base fitness through the winter. Lots of miles, perhaps with a few sprints, and as you enter the latter stages of winter into spring the sessions get shorter and harder, introducing more high intensity work to match that of your target event/s
B - Long distance - Switching the traditional pyramid upside down, during the winter, athletes focus on short, high intensity work that builds high FTP. Athletes will generally also complete some occasional long & low intensity sessions, maybe every couple of weeks, but generally the focus would be on high intensity work. As spring approaches (and conveniently the weather improves!), the focus would change to building your endurance. The massive benefit of this, is that with the higher intensity work done, your FTP, and therefore zone 1-2, figures will be much higher, giving you the ability to work longer at a higher intensity.
Now, it is important to remember that flexibility is absolutely essential to all successful training plans. Weather is rubbish and you REALLY don't fancy a long endurance ride in the rain? No problem, jump on the turbo instead for an hour or 2, throw in a few sprints to keep it interesting. As long as the general focus for that period is base fitness, then you are onto a winner.
We are also very conscious that most people have a day-to-day job, so regular long rides are just impossible for most. Cotswold Cycle Coaching have a number of alternative sessions that build endurance fitness, often without spending hours in the saddle.
Why not give coaching a try? Fully personalised coaching packages, from as little as £39 a month with no contract. Make 2023 your best season ever!