Ever since the wheel was invented and man realised that using them to ride away from their families was possible, we have been told that long steady KMs is what we needed to do to get fit and fast on the bike.
Long steady rides, or base miles, were to be logged religiously if you ever wanted to amount to anything as a cyclist.
Whether you wanted to blast past your mates at the local bunch ride, ride away from everyone in a race or just win a Strava KOM you needed to build a solid base. And that meant riding slow and riding long.
The simple premise of that thought process was building a big base of aerobic endurance would allow you to add a layer of strength and power to make you go fast on the bike. The bigger the base, therefore, the stronger and faster you would go.
Or so they thought.
Now, while that approach may work for the professional cyclist who has nothing else to do all day but ride their bikes, for those of us with jobs and other commitments it just isn't practical.
All about the base, bout the base no HIT
Us working stiffs don't have the time to ride hour upon hour every day to build that base. We need to be smarter about how we train. And we need to make the most out of every time we get on the bike.
Enter HIT or High-Intensity Training.
Now, I can hear the gasps of the traditionalist, but hear me out before you throw your chain breaker at me. It has long been thought that before you do any form of HIT that you needed to develop a big base of fitness first.
Well, I'm here to tell you that you are wrong. Sorry. You just are. Science.
A recent study by Kent University determined that there is no discernible difference in training effect, in the manner of an increased VO2 max, between traditional endurance riding and HIT.
The study, lasting for 12 weeks, split a group of trained cyclists into two and prescribed each group a particular training regime to follow. Group one had to complete 30 sec all-out efforts until exhaustion while group two had to ride at 70% of their recorded VO2 max until exhaustion.
Before the test began all athletes had their VO2 max recorded and used as a baseline to determine levels of improvement. After the testing, the results were so close that Kent University could not determine that either method was better or worse.
What was the kicker, however, is that group two on average conducted 10 - 12 hours of training per week during the study while group one only averaged one to two hours per week.
Those results certainly turned the old thinking on base training on its head and now has those in the search for marginal gains prescribing HIT for their athletes earlier in the season.
So, What now?
So, you ask, what does that mean for me? Well, it means that science says you don't have to ride long and slow every ride. You can get the same benefit out of shorter rides if you are smart about it.
Ditch two of your long slow rides for some full-bore intervals early in the season. If you work during the week, instead of logging 90 mins on the turbo do two 45 min session instead.
Then on the weekend go out and ride a more traditional type of base ride to give yourself a bit of a break before smashing it again the next week.
Mix it up, ad some variety and see how it goes. You never it might just work. Here at Online Cycling Gear Australia, we're not just about selling you cycling kit that looks good and is priced well, we want you to be a better rider as well.
Give the HIT interval sessions a go and see how it works for you. Lace in some long steady rides and come the racing season you will be cashing winners cheques all year long.