Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to training for long-term fitness development is consistency, and it’s something that lots of active people struggle with.
Almost anyone can go and knock out a monster ride or flog themselves on a long climb, but few can train day-in, day-out over a long period of time.
Of course, consistency is often broken because of uncontrollable outside factors like work commitments, weather and family obligations, but there are some ways to improve the chances of consistency being maintained. Here are 4 steps you can take to boost your training consistency.
PRIORITISE STRENGTH TRAINING
On a personal level, the single most effective change I ever made related to training consistency was to include regular strength training into my plan.
This is because a major hinderance when it comes to training consistency is injury, and having weak muscles that don’t get adequately worked by cycling alone can result in all kinds of niggles when you’re riding a lot. Common problem areas are weaknesses around the core, like the abdominals, the glutes and the hip flexors, as these act as support for, and control the legs.
Weakness in even one area can result in a huge imbalance, and with pedalling a bike being an incredibly repetitive motion, it doesn’t take much of an imbalance to bring about chronic injuries. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the simple exercises I use to maintain my core strength.
ALWAYS HAVE A TRAINING PLAN
Another common contributing factor to poor training consistency is a lack of motivation to ride, and this can come about for many different reasons.
One of the biggest is not having a plan in place, where you essentially make things up as you go along and can’t effectively work towards long-term goals. A training plan is like a cycling-specific to-do list, and can be really effective at motivating you to get the planned training done, day after day.
You should always make sure your plan is fun, varied and realistic, and understand that if you can’t get the exact workout that you’ve set done, it shouldn’t mean that you abandon your training for that day altogether. Do what you can to maintain consistency.
When you set yourself a goal and begin working towards it, it can be easy to pull out or give up when it gets difficult if there’s no repercussion (other than a little self-loathing maybe).
However, the situation changes when you have someone or something to hold you to account.
As an example, if you’ve entered a sportive and lined up people to sponsor you to do it, it’s far more likely that you’ll stick at your training simply because you have others that you don’t want to let down and disappoint.
Similarly, riding in a regular group a few times a week ensures that there are fellow riders that you’ll let down if you decide not to turn up, so setting up a system whereby there IS some form of repercussion can make a big difference.
GET ENOUGH RECOVERY
Closely related to injury, overtraining is the process of inflicting too much workout and/or life stress onto the body, which results in an inability to train and get fitter.
In fact, overtrained athletes usually get ill due to a suppressed immune system and subsequently lose a huge chunk of fitness as they recover. It’s something that every serious cyclist has either experienced or flirted with and it’s perhaps the number one way to break training consistency.
To avoid getting chronically overtrained, it’s smart to always include at least one easy day for every hard day that you do in your training, on top of scheduling a short block of 2-5 easy/rest days, perhaps every 3-6 weeks or so.
Recovery after your workouts should also be prioritised to optimise day-to-day regeneration. I’ll have a post detailing my post-ride recovery routine soon.
Do you struggle with maintaining consistency in your training? What tips have you used to improve your consistency and dedication? Let me know below.