How to stay injury free when training for a new season

Many of you are now pushing watts outside even though king winter is upon us, at least up here in Norway, as you try to either preserve your cycling shape or take steps coming into a new season.

 

No matter what your goals are, an important factor for joy and performance on the bike is staying injury free. So if you have just come out of an autumn pause you should make sure you don’t overdo your training. The same will be applicable for many of you when spring arrives with bare roads, newborn motivation and coming races.

 

An increase in cycling load might challenge your body in the matter of staying injury free, but there are some easy precautions you can take.

 

1. Acute versus chronic training load

If you divide the work you put in this week (acute training load) by the average of your training the last 4-6 weeks (chronic training load) the sum should not exceed 1.5. Staying inside 0.8 and 1.3 is your sweet spot, and you are quite safe (1).

2. Perform strength training

Strength training can reduce the risk of overuse injuries with 50 % (2). That’s a high number knowing that 50 % of Norwegian riders have suffered these kinds of injuries over the past 13 weeks (3).

 

Why should you take these precautions?

 

1. Better chance to reach your goals

The likelihood of reaching performance goals are seven times as high for those who were able to perform above 80 % of planned training (1)

2. Avoid set-backs

When you are injured you’ll need to reduce your training for a period of time. During this time your tolerance will lower and when you return to training you are forced to start at a lower level than pre-injury. You are loosing time to reach your desired level.

 

Bonuses you might gain from strength training (4-7);

 

1. Higher maximal power

2. Higher threshold power

3. Increased cycling economy

 

There is tradition among cyclists to perform strength training during winter, but to leave it out for the season. This is something that should be challenged, because studies show that those who keep it up perform better than those who don’t (6). If you put in many hours in the gym in the winter, it might be a waste when summer comes because the effects have gone. So try to keep it up for about once a week. There will be times during season this is not possible and reasonable, but you can put in some extra effort in training periods.

 

To have the tolerance to absorb the training you do is by far the most important thing to consider when striving to stay injury free. Make sure you take the right steps, and consider the great benefits strength training will add to this.

 

Also make sure you consider aspects like nutrition, sleep, stress levels and other factors that can influence your restitution.

 

And enjoy your time on the bike! Lets not forget about that.

 

Sources:

  1. Gabbett TJ.The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med 2016;50:273–280
  2. Lauersen et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2014
  3. Raysmith BP, Drew MK. Performance success or failure is influenced by weeks lost to injury and illness in elite Australian track and field athletes: A5-year prospective study. J Sci Med Sport. 2016 Oct;19(10):778-83
  4. Rønnestand BR, Hansen J, Nygaard H. 10 weeks of heavy strength training improves perforamnce-related measurements in elite cyclists.
  5. Sunde A et al. Maximal strength training improves cycling economy in competitive cyclists: J Strength Cond Res.2010 Aug;24(8):2157-65
  6. Koninckx E, Van Leemputte M, Hespel P. Effect of isokinetic cycling versus weight training on maximal power output and endurance performance in cycling: Eur J Appl Physiol.2010 Jul;109(4):699-708
  7. Silva A et al. Acute prior heavy strength exercise bouts improve the 20-km cycling time trial performance: J Strength Cond Res.2014 Sep;28(9):2513-20

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