CYCLING: long term athletic development for cycling

In any case, today, we prepare a future U18 or U21 from the category U14. We can think about a theoretical progression of the training.

The angle of attack may be the "long and slow distance training"; we could imagine:

  • U14 - 2ndyear: 2 long trainings (50 miles) with a central stop to recover (one during the winter, one during the summer),
  • U16 - 1rst year: 5 long trainings (between 50 to 60 miles) in the season,
  • U16 - 2nd year: 8 to 10 long trainings in the season (between 55 to 75 miles and variable elevation).

Thus, we create an important endurance base that will allow to train twice a month on a "Long Slow Distance Training" and thus assimilate the longer races to higher intensity.

After the low-intensity training, we can think about the progressivity of HIT sessions. As we mentioned earlier, there is nothing to prohibit short and intense efforts with short recovery sequences from a very young age. There is a physiological interest, hiding with a fun aspect for the youngest and then from the category U14, we gonna create a real training approach. Whatever the age, the playful nature can allow the cyclist to challenge himself (team hit session, TT ...).We could imagine:

  • U14: 1 weekly session around short / short efforts to understand the interval training mechanism.

At the same time, this category is often the seat of puberty with marked gain of strength because of a higher level of testosterone. Sprint interval will have a cardiovascular and muscular impact.

  • U16: according to the weekly training volume, we can continue to stimulate VO2 but because of the importance the TT races, we will also stimulate the zone #2 (see Seiler’s works) or Lactate Accommodation Zone.

Zone #2 is a high intensity pace during long duration and the input of information from a powermeter facilitates the regularity of the effort. In these lactic efforts, the anaerobic engine is stimulated to produce a maximum of energy even if it generates lactate production. The body learns to recycle them to create a new source of energy.

  • U18: a big part of the VO2 training is mastered, efforts in Zone #2 have been discovered. Now, it is necessary to control this point in the race.

From my experience, I want to point out that no athletes react in the same way to a stimulus and if the training polarization revolves around the values below, these data are not inscribed in the stone.

  • 75% of the training time below LT1 ("low lactate zone"),
  • 15-20% above LT2 (lactate accomodation zone),
  • 5-10% between LT1 and LT2 ("lactate accumulation zone").

Some athletes progress very quickly with short efforts, without generating a marked drop in the fitness state, others will be exhausted by a training between LT1 and LT2 and it will be difficult to push them during the next training. So the recommendations given above require an observation from the coach, an exchange with the cyclist and an HR and power analysis to understand how the athlete evolves according to the type of training made.

Thus, TT efforts can take time to be mastered, understood and assimilated because they can not be repeated every week.

A final point has been shaped by 2 condition coaches, Alexandre DURGUERIAN and Julien TAILLARD: create a fitness approach for the cyclist with a goal; to be an athlete before being a cyclist.

This is a long-term approach! Alexandre DURGUERIAN and Julien TAILLARD imagined:

  • U14-U16: postural and technical apprenticeship; we learn to train by focusing on the quality of movement instead of the quantity.
  • U18: we continue the education in the condition training but we are looking for the development of the specific cycling qualities.

From continuous evaluation, we check that young athletes master the new movements even with fatigue and can gradually protect themselves from injury and create a basis of strength.

Beyond the U18 category, we can engage a strength and explosivity development with high intensity and complex gestures. Unfortunately, we notice that a very (too) dense racing program can be a brake on continuous physical training during the season.

We note that the reality on the coach life, the beliefs, "ancestral" practices, sometimes the federal organization limit the establishment of a long-term strategy. I’m working in women's cycling, taking into account the specificities of the young girl and then the woman is still very far from federal concerns.

Frederic HURLIN -

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