In the realm of cycling, achieving peak performance requires more than just logging miles on the road. It involves strategic planning and periodization, a concept that may seem daunting to some but holds the key to unlocking your full potential on the bike.

In this article, we break down the fundamentals of periodization and how it can revolutionize your cycling training regimen.

We also cover how fast you could lose your cycling fitness and how not to compromise on your cycle performance.

Deciphering Periodization

At its core, periodization is the art of planning and structuring your training to align with specific goals and events. Rather than approaching training haphazardly, periodization provides a systematic framework for progression and adaptation.

It involves dividing the training cycle into distinct phases, each targeting different physiological and performance objectives.

Mapping Out Training Phases

A well-designed periodized training plan encompasses various phases, including base training, power training, and strength training, among others. 

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Each phase serves a unique purpose in building fitness, addressing weaknesses, and peaking for key events. By strategically sequencing these phases and adjusting training intensity and volume, cyclists can optimize performance while minimizing the risk of overtraining and burnout.

Tailoring Training to Your Goals

Central to effective periodization is aligning your training with your specific goals and timeline. Whether preparing for a major race or targeting personal milestones, understanding the duration and demands of your goal event is essential.

This allows you to structure your training plan accordingly, allocating sufficient time for adaptation and tapering to ensure peak performance on race day.

Seeking Expert Guidance

While periodization principles are valuable, navigating the intricacies of training planning can be challenging. Consulting with a knowledgeable coach or sports scientist can provide invaluable insights and personalized guidance tailored to your unique needs and aspirations.

Cyclists are no strangers to the ebb and flow of training intensity. However, what happens when life’s demands necessitate a hiatus from cycling? 

In this discussion, we delve into the repercussions of training layoffs on cyclists’ muscles and their capacity to resume training effectively.

Understanding the Effects of Training Layoffs on Cycling Performance

When cyclists cease training, a cascade of physiological changes unfolds within their bodies. The longer the hiatus, the more pronounced these effects become. Critical adaptations, such as the heart’s efficiency in pumping blood, the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen, and the body’s utilization of carbohydrates as fuel, begin to regress.

Short-Term Disruptions

Even a brief hiatus of up to two weeks can trigger the onset of detraining effects. During this period, cyclists may experience a decline in cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength efficiency. Whether the layoff involves complete rest or light recovery activities, the body’s capacity for peak performance diminishes, necessitating a period of retraining upon resumption of activity.

Long-Term Consequences

As the hiatus extends beyond the two-week threshold, the magnitude of detraining effects amplifies. Total loss of cardiovascular fitness may ensue within a span of 2 to 8 months, posing significant challenges to cyclists’ performance potential. Moreover, the rapid decline in muscle strength becomes evident, hindering cyclists’ ability to generate power and sustain performance thresholds.

Navigating Return to Training

Despite the potential setbacks of training layoffs, cyclists can mitigate detraining effects through strategic planning and gradual reintroduction of training stimuli. Upon resuming training, cyclists should prioritize rebuilding cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength progressively. While short layoffs may yield a quicker return to pre-hiatus performance levels, longer layoffs necessitate a more patient and structured approach to retraining.

Optimizing Cycling Performance: The Role of Nutrition

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in optimizing cycling performance, yet the question of whether to forego solid food in favor of water during training remains a subject of debate. 

Related: Running Nutrition: 8 CRUCIAL Nutrition Tips You Need To Know

Understanding Performance Objectives

Before delving into nutritional strategies, it’s essential for cyclists to clarify their performance objectives. Are they riding for enjoyment and leisure, or do they have specific performance goals in mind? This distinction is crucial in determining the appropriate fueling strategy for each training session or race.

The Impact of Water-Only Riding

While some cyclists opt for water-only rides as a means of managing body weight and fat percentage, this approach may compromise performance, particularly during high-intensity efforts. Although the human body can sustain low-intensity riding for extended periods on fat stores alone, glycogen depletion poses a significant risk to performance during intense cycling endeavors.

Glycogen Depletion and Performance Thresholds

Glycogen, stored in muscles and the liver, serves as a primary fuel source during high-intensity cycling efforts. Adequate glycogen stores enable cyclists to sustain steady, hard-tempo rides for approximately 90 minutes without the need for additional carbohydrates. However, in scenarios involving stop-start intervals or intense racing, glycogen depletion occurs more rapidly, limiting performance capacity to around 60 minutes without supplemental energy sources.

Balancing Performance and Nutrition

Ultimately, the decision to ride with only water should align with cyclists’ performance goals and the nature of their training sessions or races. While prioritizing body composition is understandable, cyclists must recognize the performance implications of glycogen depletion and adjust their nutrition accordingly.

Cyclists seeking to optimize performance must strike a delicate balance between managing body composition and fueling adequately for training and competition.


Devlin Eyden has a passion for seeing his athletes grow and excel. From novice runners or cyclists across all disciplines to elite mountain bikers representing South Africa at World Championships. In addition to helping you ride faster, for longer, Devlin also has the personal touch when it comes to your bike setup, aiming at improving the overall rider experience. With his background as a Sport Scientist as well as a Strength & Conditioning specialist, performance is Devlin’s main priority, be it in the gym, the lab or out on the road or trails. Being a keen runner & cyclist and having completed the Cape Epic among others, Devlin has first hand experience in what it take to reach your goals. If you’re looking for a once-off training program or ongoing, high touch support Devlin has you covered.

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