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Training in cycling: training areas

Training – more than just doing sports !

In order to achieve a systematic increase in performance through cycle training, the training is structured into so-called “training areas”, whereby the stresses in the various areas differ in terms of their intensity and duration. In the course of the past years, the structuring of the areas has been questioned and renewed again and again – whereby the authors concerned have referred to sports science findings and/or empirical facts. In US-American training practice, one works with area models, which are similar to the European ones in principle, but are even more finely structured.

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In our practice, a model that works with the following training areas has proven successful:

Compensation range (KB)
Basic endurance 1 (GA1)
Basic endurance 2 (GA2)
Development area (EB)
Peak range (SB)
Strength endurance
Speed endurance

The following explanation of the individual areas refers, among other things, to the principle of the “Individual Anaerobic Threshold” (IANS).

Training areas in cycling: from KB to SB

The compensation area (KB)

Training in this area is for active recovery and restoration after competition or hard training. Energy is provided almost exclusively by fats. KB training takes place on flat or barely profiled terrain using the extensive endurance method (DM). It is conducted throughout the year and is especially important during the competition period (WP). The power intensity during KB training sessions is less than 50 percent of the “Individual Anaerobic Threshold” (IANS). Authors whose training instructions are based on control by heart rate specify a frequency of no more than 60 percent of maximum (HRmax) for this range.

Intensity: < 50 % IANS / < 60 % HFmax
Duration: 30-120 min
Continuous method
Energy supply: purely aerobic, fat metabolism

Basic endurance 1 (GA1)

Training in GA1 leads to the formation of new mitochondria in the muscles (mitochondria are organelles that function as “energy power plants” in the body’s cells and are responsible for so-called cellular respiration) and therefore promotes aerobic capacity, which is of crucial importance as the basis of high performance for cyclists. GA training improves and economizes the cardiovascular-respiratory system and forms the basis for more intensive loads. Both the extensive and variable duration (DM) methods are used. The course profile should be predominantly flat to undulating. Due to the high circumferences it comes exclusively to the aerobic energy supply, with which predominantly fats are metabolized. GA1 training is performed year-round and reaches its highest levels during the competition preparation period.

Intensity: 50-77 % IANS / < 75 % HFmax
Duration: 1-8 h
extensive and variable duration method
Energy supply: aerobic, fat metabolism

Basic endurance 2 (GA2)

GA2 training also serves to develop the basic endurance capacity, but in contrast to GA1 it does not lead to the formation of new mitochondria, but mainly to capillarisation (improvement of the vascular network). This is mainly achieved by the duration method (DM) as well as the interval (IM) and repetition method (WM). The intensities are medium to high. The metabolism is in the aerobic range, so that the energy supply is still ensured by the fat metabolism, but with an increasing share of the carbohydrate metabolism. Usually GA2 training is embedded in longer GA1 units in undulating to mountainous terrain. A differentiation is made between force- and frequency-oriented GA2. The difference lies mainly in the cadence, which is 70 to 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) and 100 to 120 rpm respectively.

Intensity: 77-90 % IANS / < 80 % HFmax
Duration: 10-120 minutes
Continuous method, interval method, repetition method
Energy supply: aerobic, fat and carbohydrate metabolism

Development area (EB)

This serves to optimize and develop the aerobic-anaerobic transition zone, the so-called threshold power. In addition, lactate elimination improves. It is mainly the carbohydrate metabolism that is stressed. EB training mainly uses interval and repetition methods, but the endurance method – performed as a time trial – can also be used. Training is possible on flat terrain as well as on the mountain.

Intensity: 90-110 % IANS / < 90 % HFmax
Duration: 3-10 min (IM), < 20 min (WM), < 1 h (DM)
Interval method, repetition method, continuous method
Energy supply: aerobic-anaerobic, carbohydrate metabolism

Peak range (SB)

Training at the top of the range (SB) is the salt in the soup. It is designed to develop competition-specific speed endurance and quickness, improve maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and anaerobic performance. It is also called lactate tolerance training. This training primarily addresses the anaerobic metabolism and has very little aerobic content. Thus, energy is provided by carbohydrate and phosphate metabolism. These intensities can only be achieved with the interval (IM) and repetition (WM) methods; however, training races are often run as SB training – in the sense of the competition method (WK).

Intensity: 110 % IANS up to max. / 90-100% HFmax
Duration: 30-180 sec (IM), < 20 min (WM), > 20 min (WK)
Interval method, repetition method, competition method
Energy supply: anaerobic, carbohydrate and phosphate metabolism

In addition to these basic training areas, whose classification is primarily related to the mode of metabolism, there are other areas that relate to the optimization of certain skills, such as speed strength and strength endurance. Tips and instructions on these specific areas follow in the next section.

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