What is Cycling Block Training and How to Do it
Indoor cycling is an entertaining sport, and when it comes down to it, we are all pushing to be better and better. Cycling is all about progression and the journey of improving yourself mentally and physically. You can ride and ride, but you will hit a point where your fitness will stop improving, and you will end up just maintaining. How do we get over slumps like this?
To get over a slump and carry on progressing your fitness, you will need to start some structured training. There are many ways you can go about structuring your training to carry on. One way is by block training which also helps a lot if you ever decide to do an indoor cycling race.
What is cycling block training?
Basically, block training is when you train in blocks that take you to your absolute maximum then let you recover enough before going again. There’s a little more to it than you think though, and in this article, we’re going to tell you all about it. Before we start though we need to understand a few things about different types of training sessions.
Let’s talk about high-intensity training. This is where you push your body to its absolute best and give everything to the bike. These kinds of sessions will be intervals, power sessions, and even racing online through indoor cycling apps.
High-intensity sessions will generally be less than an hour in duration, and you will get your heart rate super high while doing it. You’re going to be giving 85% or more of your maximal effort.
Endurance sessions are typically much longer sessions at a much lighter intensity. They are not massively challenging as far as giving a tremendous amount of effort. It’s the duration you have to be riding that can be very tough.
Endurance sessions can be anywhere from an hour to five hours or more. Your heart rate will typically be in the region of 60%-75% of your maximum for the duration. The beauty of endurance sessions is short term they don’t overload your body, but long duration, they can be made to really challenge you, and when it comes to block training, they will be long sessions mainly.
These sessions help us recover, and they are not used to take us to a high intensity. They are for us to keep the heart rate low and help the body rest and aid its recovery.
Recovery sessions are generally short, and you would be on the bike for typically less than an hour. Your heart rate will be between 45% and 65% for it to be effective. It is about getting fresh blood round and keeping your body moving.
What does a block training plan look like?
A block training plan is straightforward and can offer the cyclist doing the plan extra overload compared to a regular training plan, hopefully helping them make the improvements they need to be a better cyclist. It’s about pushing your body to a high level, then letting it have recovery and repeating the process. Block training consists of a block like this;
Power Block Training
- Day One: V02 Max intervals
- Day Two: Road Race
- Day Three: Rest Day
- Day Four: Recovery Ride
Endurance Training Block
- Day One: Long Endurance Ride
- Day Two: Long Endurance Ride
- Day Three: Rest Day
- Day Four: Light Recovery Ride
Power/Endurance Block Training
- Day One: V02 Max Intervals
- Day Two: Long Endurance Ride
- Day Three: Rest Day
- Day Four: Rest Day
How does block training work?
Block training works through overload. The block training process is to take your body to the absolute maximum and then let it fully recover. This is a traditional training theory and has been used in physical fitness training for a long time.
By performing block training and repeating this process, we get stronger and better at indoor cycling, mountain biking and road cycling.
The Pros and Cons of Block Training
Block training, although sounding ideal for many of us, does have some pros and cons. In this next section, we’re going to speak about them.
Your fitness will improve
If done correctly, your fitness will improve, and before you know it, you will be reaching highs that you have never seen before. Going to our maximum effort can help our bodies adapt and improve at a quick pace.
One thing I really like about block training is that it offers structure. You will know where you’re at on each day and what you need to be doing. Providing you have given yourself the proper structure, you will get everything you need.
All or nothing
Many of us love to be to all or nothing at all, and if you’re that kind of person, block training is for you. There are no half measures. You are either on the bike giving everything or literally just floating through.
It doesn’t offer flexibility
When your block training, it means your block training. Just say your friends want you to come out on a ride. It will mess up your plans. For example, if you are on a recovery ride and you push it too much, the following power session you will need to do, you might not have the energy for, which can have a negative effect.
It can be boring
Block training and going through the same process again and again, it can be boring. If you find repeating training blocks tedious, this could be very challenging. Though some cyclists really enjoy this.
How long should I block train for?
Many experts say block training should only be done for about 6-12 weeks. Then you should take a break or change your routine. It differs between people. If you find that after 8 weeks, you stop making progress, maybe it is time to resume normal training.
Is block training better indoors or outdoors?
If you are doing block training to create power with short sharp intervals and power sessions, then I believe cycling block training will be much more suited to being indoors using spin bikes or turbo trainers. If you’re doing your block training to build endurance and have long sessions you have to go through, then outdoor would probably be more suited.
Is Block Training for me?
Block training is a lot of fun, and it will improve your performance, but it isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t offer much flexibility, and you will find each block very similar to the one before.
If you are spontaneous and love riding with others whenever you like, it could be challenging to fit in, and if you go off track, it could completely mess up that block for you. If you live in a country with good weather all year round, you might find it challenging if you train a lot outdoors.
If you are someone who is very disciplined and don’t often ride with others, then block training could be perfect for you. If you live in a country where you have to train a lot indoors, it could be absolutely ideal for making block training successful.
How to plan my block training?
Planning block training is challenging, and I would recommend getting a cycling coach to do it for you. They will be able to assess your level and even produce block periodization for you, meaning it will progress adequately. Developing training plans and understanding training techniques can be complex.
You can create training blocks for yourself. It will just take a little bit of trial and error to get it right, and you will have to test regularly and look at the data to make sure that you are on the right track.
The primary training objective of block training is to take your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems to their maximum, then give you adequate rest and active recovery rides until you recover. Block training is a fantastic process and will hugely improve your fitness. The first thing to understand is it won’t be easy. You will have to work very hard to make sure it works. In return, you will get plenty of rest and be able to enjoy some easy rides as well.