Cyclists out racing along country lanes near the coast in the United Kingdom

Training in cycling: training methods

Training forms and methods: K1 – K4 / HIT

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Strength training in the K3 range can be very tiring, but our experience shows that fitness can also improve greatly.

After the training areas there are also different training forms and methods which are partly mixed with the training areas. These must be fundamentally distinguished from the training areas, as they specify not only the pure intensity (cf. KB – SB) of the training, but also other parameters such as terrain type (on flat/uphill/wavy terrain) and pedalling frequency.

We want to start here with the training forms K1 to K4 (strength training with the bike), which originate from the training methodology of the former GDR. This is strength-oriented training on the bike, which can be done on the flat and/or uphill. A further distinction is made here between the fast strength area (K1-K2) and the strength endurance area (K3-K4).

K1 – Sprints to increase the speed strength

The fast strength specific K1 training aims at the “improvement of maximum and fast strength with specific training means” (cf. W. Lindner, “Erfolgreiches Radsporttraining”, p. 42). Ten to twelve sprints of six seconds duration are performed here. These should be ridden almost from a standstill and with a high gear ratio to provide maximum power stimulus. In between sprints, ride for five minutes at a high cadence in the GA1 range.

K2 – high-speed strength program on the ergometer

K2 training is a special type of training that should be performed on the ergometer. The specific load objective here is the “complex development of compressive and tensile forces” (cf. W. Lindner, “Erfolgreiches Radsporttraining”, p. 42). The load duration here is 20 seconds; three series of ten repetitions are performed with a one-minute break between each repetition and a 15-minute break between each series.

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Speed and power do not only play a role in track sprinting, mountain riders also have to be able to react flexibly to attacks.

K3 – interval training with low cadence to increase strength endurance

The classic K3 strength endurance training on the mountain has a maximum duration of up to 120 minutes and can still be interrupted by intermediate sprints depending on the preparation period. The cadence is in the range between 40 and 60 rpm, the load is carried out in the upper GA2 and in the development range up to the anaerobic threshold. Interval length and number of repetitions are determined by topographical conditions and the individual performance of the athlete.

K4 – Strength endurance with intermediate sprints

K4 training is a very competitive form of strength training. The main focus here is on tempo changes on the mountain. The duration of exercise is also variable and should be in the range of ten to 35 minutes per interval. The gear ratio is chosen similar to the one used in competition, the cadence is in the range between 75 and 90 rpm. This continuous performance is interrupted by intermediate sprints of 20 to 50 seconds with a final uphill sprint.

Nowadays, these forms of training can be defined and implemented very precisely by means of precise wattage specifications. This results in a very high effectiveness for the individual athlete. This means that older forms of training can also be implemented very well in modern, performance-controlled training.
Now let’s move on to “new” forms of training specifically designed for performance-based cycling training.

Basic endurance +

The “basic endurance +” training is actually a purely aerobic endurance training, which is specifically designed to train and improve the “basic speed” and fat burning. Here, units of two and a half to five hours in length are run in flat to hilly terrain; the intensity of the training takes place in the transitional range between GA1 and GA2. Here it is of crucial importance to keep the power as even as possible and to avoid power peaks. In contrast to pure basic endurance 1 training, the power output should be in the lower to medium GA2 range, especially on gentle climbs or with headwinds. On flat terrain and even downhill, however, care should be taken to never let the power sink lower than the mid GA1 range if possible.

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Basic training is mainly done in winter and spring to build up fitness for the coming year.

The metabolism is thus forced to always metabolize carbohydrates with a high fat burning rate. As a result, especially the first training sessions are perceived as quite intense and very tiring. Soon, however, the effect of a significantly improved fat burning can be noticed and the basic pace of the training increases automatically. Depending on the type of rider, significant performance gains in higher ranges can already be observed through this brisk basic speed. However, you should be careful to use this training in a targeted manner, because similar to real tempo training, this form of loading can also make you “sluggish” and make it more difficult to set performance peaks later on.

Tempo/Medio/”Sweet Spot” Training

Tempo and so-called “sweet spot” training (cf. Allen & Coggan, “Training and Racing with a Powermeter”, p. 81f.) deals with the training of the often mentioned tempo hardness. This is a form of training designed to train aerobic fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Based on the training ranges we have defined, this training takes place in the upper GA2 range to the EB just below threshold and is performed in interval form for ten to 20 minutes. The number of repetitions also depends on the individual fitness of the athlete.

HIT – High Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, or HIT for short, is a form of training derived from bodybuilding. The idea behind this is to achieve the same – or even better – strength gain with short, very intense interval loads and long training breaks as with the otherwise widespread volume training. In part, this translates very well to cycling. Scientific studies have already proven that this very intensive form of interval training not only leads to an improvement in the anaerobic performance range, but also improves aerobic performance. The possibilities of training in the HIT range are manifold. Interval duration, rest time and number of repetitions are determined by the respective intensity.

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