Michael is spinning to keep fit through the winter months and wants to know when to start interval training. Steady riding is excellent to build up a good base fitness, but eventually, you need to start changing your training and making it more varied, Michael wants to know when?
Question: I am presently spinning about 5-6 hours a week, as just a “want to be quicker recreational rider”. Should I keep my heart rate under 80% during the winter months, with indoor spinning to build a base, before doing intervals in another two or so months?
All training is great, so keep spinning, but you will have to start training outdoors soon, as it is more diverse, more interesting, and better for you to get sunlight and fresh air. You don’t say where you live, so maybe you have 6-foot snowdrifts at your door, so spinning is you’re the only alternative.
You also don’t say how long you have been cycling and your age. These things can affect when you should start interval training. If you have been cycling, without a break, then your body is quite fit, and if you are young, then everything is easier!
The length of sprints?
I would say that if you feel fit enough, I will introduce short sprints for 20 to 30 seconds, giving yourself enough time between efforts to allow your heart rate to come down to under the 80% mark again. There are a few different reasons for this, boredom being the biggest in my book. It’s also good for the body as it gets it used to changes in rhythm, which, as you know, you will have to do on the road, unless you live in a flat, windless area.
If you have been doing the base training for a few months now, then start with the short intervals of 20 to 30 seconds. When you can handle a few of those, then step it up, 1 minute on, and 2 minutes rest. After a while, then you can build up to 5-minute intervals with, at first, longer rests in between to let your heart rate come down, but as you get fitter and faster, the rest periods will get shorter.
Don’t forget, to take it easy at first and build up, don’t go into it hard and fast straight away and remember if you don’t feel well if you have a cold or any other illness, then don’t ride, listen to your body. Get out on your bike!