Is it right or wrong to use high intensity intervals during winter training period? It’s a common question that remains uncertain. You can ask 10 different coaches and you will get 10 different answers. It is no secret that I am a strong believer in Time Effective Cycling Training and try to implement high aerobic activities throughout the season. So I feel it is even more important for me to clarify how interval training can be used effectively during the winter.
One of the most common arguments against interval training during the winter is the risk of peaking too early. Well, I disagree.
If you are not competing at professional level, your risk of peaking too early is extremely low. Remember that your current fitness leaves a significant room for improvement and that’s why it makes sense to train longer, faster and more frequently.
Here is an example: Let’s say normally train three times per week from November to February. That’s just how people do in your local cycling club. But this year you want to take your performance to another level so you decide to jump from e.g. three to five weekly training sessions per week. And you add three weekly sessions with sub-threshold intervals.
After 14 days of training you’ll begin to feel the initiate results of your hard work. You’ll begin to ride slightly faster than riders at your normal level. It’s a great feeling. Your local cycling club will notice how much progress you make.
Now you are just about to scream to everybody about your great, new training program.
You can be almost 100% sure that this moment is also the time when the first critical questions about your training methods will arrive. Most likely a few ‘experienced’ riders will warn you that there is a great risk that you will peak too early. If you a few weeks later realise that you’ve been a little too optimistic about your training progress, people will talk about how you peaked too early (because you didn’t listen).
Now the case is you won’t peak to early. It’s a short period of overshooting and that’s it. Overshooting has nothing to do with peaking which a completely different story. Btw. how can one peak without being even close to ones physiological potential AND even more importantly: How should one be able to really peak without even tapering?
It simply doesn’t make sense to me.
So if you’ve just raised your workload a bit, you will be able to train four to five times per week. And you can safely include intervals and become even stronger. Small steps forward, bit by bit (and once in while a short step back). In the long run this approach will make you a LOT stronger.
If this article doesn’t scare you, the 12-week winter training program might actually be a good choice for you. Check it out here.