Strength, Power and Speed – what’s the deal?
Not all of us will want to be a fast cyclist. For example, if your goal is to complete Lands End to John o’ Groats, there is little point in you putting a major focus on becoming fast. Your endurance is going to the most important attribute for you.
However, if you are a racing cyclist or like to be competitive with mates – speed work will be an important part of your training. Being fast is a very desirable attribute. Often, you need to work on your speed, and be relatively fast just to compete and ‘get round’ a race.
Looking at Power – this is something that all cyclists require. In a race, you are going to need power to get up those short, sharp climbs, make an attack or hold the wheel when the pace is on. For a sportive, you will need to be powerful for similar reasons – to get up the climbs, or to hold your mate off in the final few miles when the tank is empty.
Strength is the ability to push force through the pedals on a bike. You can’t be powerful, unless you are inherently strong. And you can’t be fast unless you are powerful, so its obvious that strength work is vital for us all.
Looking at some basic physics, the speed you travel across the ground is determined by the force you apply through the pedals (strength) x the speed at which you can turn the pedals (cadence).
So to travel fast, you need to produce a lot of power, which means you need to be strong, and you must produce that power quickly – by pedalling fast.
To re-cap, you can’t be fast in a sprint unless you are powerful, which you can’t be unless you are strong. To be able to cope with the workload required to develop your strength, power and speed, you need to be fit and have an element of endurance. This is where your training phases come in, which traditionally (but vary depending on your personal goal), are;
- Strength and endurance
- Peak & Taper
A well-structured training programme, will work through the above phases, spending a varying amount of time in each phase depending on your personal goals and circumstance.
Just remember – we become good at what we practice. So if you spend 7 hours a week riding steady, you are going to be quite good at riding steady for a few hours at a time. If you want to complete a sportive, long distance event, race or simply get fast – this can be obtained on a diet of 7 hours training a week – but not by riding steady (zone 2) every day. You will need to train smart. This is something we encourage all cyclists with a goal to do – not to train hard, but to train smart.
Don’t get to this time next year thinking ‘what if I signed-up with Rowe & King a year ago’. For a no obligation chat about how Rowe & King might be able to help you achieve your goals in 2017 – email Matt via firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.