At some point in our fitness journeys, we all hit plateaus. Whether it’s cycling, running, swimming, or even strength training, there are times when we just can’t seem to make improvements. Sometimes, these plateaus come after an injury or following a big peak, but sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a reason. We’re working as hard as ever, and we just can’t seem to get faster or go further. While these periods are perfectly normal, they can still be frustrating. The good news is there’s plenty that you can do to overcome your plateaus and hit your cycling goals. Here’s a look at some of the best strategies to try.
Strategy #1: Change Your Goals
Big goals are fantastic. They give us something to work towards, and hitting these big targets boosts confidence. But during a plateau, those big goals can feel impossible, increasing frustration and even creating panic.
Remember, your goals are very personal. Even if you are aiming for a race or an event, there’s nothing wrong with putting that big target on the back burner and setting smaller, more attainable goals.
If you are struggling with speed or distance, change your mindset along with your goals. Targets like going out three times a week, trying a new route once a week, or even totally different goals, like stopping and enjoying the scenery, can give you a boost.
Strategy #2: Change Things Up
Sometimes a plateau is simply the result of boredom. Changing things up by cycling on different terrain, adding hills, and riding speed intervals can increase your strength and prevent boredom. Don’t be scared to try new things, keeping what works for you and leaving what doesn’t.
Strategy #3: Cross-Train
Cross-training is an important element of success in any sport. We sometimes get obsessed with our sport of choice and give it our all. This can seem like the best use of your time, but it can actually be counterproductive.
If you aren’t cross-training, adding things like strength training or Pilates and Yoga can strengthen your muscles and boost your posture, and exercises like swimming and walking can aid your recovery while still increasing your cardiovascular fitness.
Related Post: 5 Great Strength Exercises for Cyclists
Strategy #4: Get Back to Basics
When we do something a lot, we fall into bad habits and cut corners. This can affect your body, your enjoyment, and your performance. A plateau is a great excuse to stop and take a look at your posture, grip, and form. Get back to basics and think about what you’d tell a new cyclist to do. Check yourself and brush up where needed.
Strategy #5: Look at Your Pre-Work Out Routine
We often think a lot about what we do after a workout. We stretch to reduce aches and pains the day after. We rehydrate and refuel our bodies with healthy snacks and water. These things are, of course, essential if you have a busy training routine and want to push yourself hard. But many of us are guilty of neglecting our pre-workout.
If you want to perform at your best, what you do before you head out is just as important. Make sure you are eating a good meal with protein and complex carbs to boost your energy levels and blood sugar, and if you use a pre-workout supplement in a drink, make sure you have it around 30 minutes before exercise and that it’s something that is giving your body the support that it needs.
Then, just before you head out, make sure you stretch not just your legs but also your back, arms, and core.
Related Post: Complete Guide to Stretching for Cyclists
Strategy #6: Improve Your Diet
What you eat before and after a workout is important for performance and recovery. But your diet the rest of the time can also have an effect. Take a look at your diet in everyday life. Make sure you are eating plenty of carbohydrates and protein, but also that you are getting essential nutrients from fruit and veg.
Strategy #7: Take a Break
If you’ve tried to add cross-training, made changes to your workouts, and improved your diet and lifestyle, and you still feel as though you can’t come closer to your goals, the best thing that you can do might be to take a break. Having some time off, or just some time when you cycle purely for pleasure, without timing yourself or tracking your distance, can help you physically and mentally reset.
Strategy #8: Look After Yourself
A plateau can sometimes mean you are stressed out, not getting enough rest, or otherwise unwell. Make sure you are enjoying rest days, sleeping well, and generally looking after yourself. If you are concerned about a health issue, or physical niggle, head to the doctor to get it checked out.
Remember, plateaus are perfectly normal and not usually something to worry about. For most of us, it’s a combination of the above strategies that will help us push through and get back to hitting our cycling goals.
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