Thursday, November 29, 2018

How Training Has Changed Through The Decades - Bicycling Magazine

Sports psychology, expert coaches, scientists, physiological testing, nutrition, and the means to quantify training effort and dose: each of these factors has played a part in changing the way cyclists train. But how much has training really improved? One thing that has always worked and which remains just as important today is ‘putting the miles in’.

Riding plenty of miles was the guiding principle during the Forties, and it’s still recommended today. Setting aside the controversies surrounding his time as technical director of British Cycling, Shane Sutton knows about training, and he has a universal piece of advice: “Train for 16 hours a week, every week. It doesn’t matter how you do those 16 hours, but you will get better.” Is it really that simple?

>>> How they used to train: Eddy Merckx’s pre-1969 Tour de France week

High mileage remains a hallmark of elite cyclists’ training. What makes it so effective? Studies show that training volume has a direct effect on the physiological adaptations that underpin fitness. These include increases in blood volume and total number of red blood cells, increased cardiac output, and increases in blood capillary and mitochondria density in muscles. Doing lots of miles leads to lots of adaptations; it’s a blunt instrument, but it works.

A few cyclists began experimenting with more efficient ways of training during the era of Fausto Coppi. He was the top dog during the late Forties and early Fifties, and although his overall training advice, “Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike” was traditional — and a tad repetitive — he experimented with pushing harder on parts of rides to simulate race efforts.

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