You’ve probably heard that riding slowly and steadily for long distances is the greatest way to create a foundation of fitness. This entails committing 12 to 16 weeks of your time to lengthy, low-intensity miles of training so that your aerobic system can develop stronger over time, allowing you to ride for longer and longer periods of time. It’s true that this approach works, but only if you have the time to put into it. If you don’t, then it’s not worth your time.
Polarized training is a method that is accommodating to one’s schedule and gives a realistic solution for how to increase cycling endurance on a time budget. This method is helpful for those of us who are unable to wake up and ride for four to six hours every day. Find out everything you need to know about this type of training and how it can help enhance your rides by reading the information that follows.
The Benefits of Polarized Training
Polarized training places an emphasis on activities that are at complete opposite extremes of the spectrum of possible workouts. In other words, throughout any given week, you will alternate between very strenuous efforts and easy aerobic rides, getting the most out of both worlds. The community of sports scientists has mixed feelings about it, primarily due to the fact that they are accustomed to working out for a half day at the base. However, this approach is supported by a substantial body of credible research.
Exercise physiologist Paul Laursen, Ph.D., of the training service lab Plews and Professor argue that “ultimately, your ‘base’ comes down to your mitochondrial capacity.” “While prolonged workouts at a lower intensity increase the amount of mitochondria in your cells, research shows that high-intensity training makes those mitochondria more powerful.”
Additionally, when you do a set (or especially multiple sets) of high-intensity intervals, your heart rate stays elevated during your “recovery” periods, which benefits your aerobic energy systems—especially as the session progresses, says Laursen. This is particularly beneficial to your aerobic energy systems.
Even if you are currently in relatively good shape, interval training is guaranteed to increase your cycling endurance no matter how you look at it. According to Laursen, “Our research has revealed that when well-trained cyclists conducted two interval sessions a week for three to six weeks, their VO2 max, peak aerobic-power output, and endurance performance improved by 2 to 4 percent.” [Citation needed]
According to Laursen, the best way to build endurance is to blend the distribution of your training so that approximately 80 percent of your rides are in the aerobic intensities of ‘zone 2’ (in terms of heart-rate zones), and approximately 20 percent are performed at high and very-high intensities, or a blend of zones 3 to 5 throughout the week. In this regard, the best way to build endurance is to blend the distribution of your training.
The Ultimate Endurance Interval
Interval training at a very high intensity should be performed by cyclists who want to maximize the benefits of their interval training for endurance. Intervals should range from 30 seconds to 5 minutes in length. These are challenging enough to recruit some fast-twitch sprint fibers, which in turn makes the power-producing fibers more resistant to exhaustion over time. Not only do these help improve your aerobic system, but they also challenge you enough to do so.
According to Laursen, it is possible to achieve spectacular results by performing three to six of these leg-burning exercises with a recovery period of one to two minutes in between each set. Increase both the number of repetitions and the level of difficulty as your fitness improves.
Aim to do these sessions twice per week, with at least one day off in between each session to allow for recuperation. The remaining riding for the week should then be done at an aerobic pace that is moderate. Remember that if you want to complete a 100-mile ride, you still need to log some longer days in the saddle so that you can become comfortable on the bike, practice pacing, and dial in your nutrition and hydration. These are all things that shorter interval sessions are unable to achieve for you.
Last but not least, keep in mind that interval training, despite its many benefits, is extremely taxing. In your weekly schedule for endurance training, it is crucial that you not only include easy days and rest days, but also that you consume a balanced diet, get appropriate sleep, and be careful of your general recuperation.
In the event that you do not, Laursen warns that “you can wind up fit but unhealthy, with high levels of stress hormones and inflammation that can do significant damage over time.” “Striving for harmony is the ultimate goal.”
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