You may not be training for a Grand Tour, but it doesn’t hurt to follow a professional

By Ea Francisco

With the Tour de France underway, we see some of the best cyclists compete in one of the toughest sports there is. It’s hard to imagine anyone riding those hills and mountains upwards of 50 kph. So if you want to go faster on your bike, it’s worth looking into how these people put the pedal to the metal.

Ride Faster with Interval Training

If you’re looking to build speed, doing intervals is your best bet. American BMC Racing  Team cyclist Tejay van Garderen said to Men’s Journal that it’s pointless to go hard throughout the entire workout if you’re just training yourself to hold one speed. “You need to mix it up and go really hard sometimes and go easy other times.” Alternating between power and rest conditions your body to work harder than what you’re capable of. In an interview with Men’s Fitness, former cyclist and triathlete coach Chris Carmichael suggests “riding as hard as you can for two minutes, then spin easy for two minutes, and repeat a few times.”

Train in High Altitude

One thing that pro cyclists do to train for the Tour is to ride or live in altitude. According to Cycling Weekly, retired Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky followed a program where they slept in high altitude and trained low or within sea level. Altitude is said to increase blood capillaries in the lungs, which means more oxygen taken in and delivered to muscles. Endurance sports like road cycling rely heavily on efficient oxygen consumption. Team Lotto Jumbo’s performance manager, in a Cyclist interview, even says that you’ll find cyclists like Froome, Nibali, Basso, and other major teams training in altitude in Tenerife.

Switch in and out of Saddle

When climbing mountains, you can choose to either stay on your saddle or not, and what works is different for everyone. However, retired cyclists Dan Lloyd and Matt Stephens suggest doing both. In their video with GCN, they say that for a lot of people it works to stay 95 percent on the saddle, go down a few gears, and go off the saddle for 10 seconds. This can help you work and rest your other muscles while climbing.

Fasted Carbs and High Protein

As professional cyclists, they have to be very careful about what they eat because every meal can affect the outcome of their ride. You can even tweak your diet to maximize your training. Team Sky’s head of nutrition says in an interview with GCN that restricting your carbs before, during, or after your training can improve your muscle’s response to it. You can do this by not having breakfast before training, not having a sports drink during training, or postponing post-workout eating. He also emphasizes that endurance athletes burn muscle in their workouts, so consuming more protein rebuilds them into something better.