This is the fourth article in our Attacking Your Weakness series. Be sure to check out our other articles on improving your swim, run, and overall fitness.

Is your cycling leg the one that’s dragging you down? Cold weather is no reason to opt out of cycling! In fact, the winter is the perfect time to take your cycling up a notch with some focused indoor training.  Like the other articles, we’ll assume that your primary goal is to improve your cycling for triathlon and that you’re not a pure cyclist.

What should I avoid?

There are several different ways people try to improve their cycling during the off-season.One popular option is to pop in a movie and spin at zone 1 for several hours. For the average triathlete with 10-15 hours to train, this is not the best use of time. For the same rule of overcompensation applies to cycling the same as it does everything else.  Basically, compensation just says in order to produce positive changes in fitness you work hard, then rest, which leads to subsequent improvement. Unless you’re coming from the couch, you will be hard pressed to gain significant physiological adaptions from this type of training. So for us age groupers with limited time going from a diet of  say,  6-8 hours of mixed intensity cycling during the season to the same amount of time (or less) zone 1 cycling watching movies is not going to lead to improvement, you’ll actually be taking a step back.

What about periodizing my training?

The true application of periodization is moving from general to specific training  So if you’re target is a half Ironman or Ironman, longer, lower intensity rides aren’t something that should happen far away from the race, they’re something that should happen close to the race. General, in this case, would refer to improving short course power, then adding in the endurance aspect later.

It’s for these reasons that for many people it makes the most sense to use the winter months to improve the left side of your power curve and your functional threshold power.  If you’re on board here’s some steps to take to make the best use of the winter months.

  1. Get back on your bike– Having said all of the above, if you’ve taken some time off, it’s a good idea to have some level of aerobic fitness prior to starting a more intense program. Likewise if you’re getting on a bike for the very first time in many years.
  2. Start by setting a baseline and testing your functional threshold power. If you need a primer on FTP, then check this out for information and motivation!
  3. Focus your efforts– depending on your first A race, develop or seek out a focused program to improving your Functional Threshold Power, which will pay dividends when you put the endurance under your efforts close to the season. If you need help with his part, then consider joining us at Energy lab for our winter program. Check out the details.
  4. Don’t forget the details– with less time spent training now may be the time to get a professional bike fit or invest in some personalized coaching.

Questions or comments? We’re always here to help. Drop us a note!




Energy Lab Winter Series Summary


– Tuesday through Thursday day and evening options through Energy Lab. See complete schedule 

– Periodic weekend riding starting in December

The Program:

– 2- 3 focused sessions per week with an optional indoor or outdoor endurance ride on the weekends. Consider our 12 week program or mix and match the classes yourself. Test yourself at the beginning and end of the 12 weeks. Email us for help identifying classes based on your goals