How to get the most out of your training with Cycle Collective’s new Spring/Summer timetable 

So you’ve survived the depths of winter; getting out of bed in the morning is hopefully becoming that fraction easier, and the days are getting longer (finally!). This should mean that the prospect of working towards those summer fitness goals is something that is no longer a distant light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time to train SMART this spring, to finish the year off with a BANG!

Whether you’re a competitive cyclist gearing up for the Summer Criterium season; an aspiring triathlete preparing for the Summer Triathlon Series; or maybe you’re working towards your own personal fitness goals; regardless of what is the driving force behind you getting out of bed and getting active, it's important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your training.

"I'm new to this whole indoor cycling thing, how can it help with my fitness goals?"
"How can I get stronger while getting fit at the same time?"
"What does the zone card actually mean?"
"FTP? Sorry what does that even stand for?"

Whether you’re an existing Cycle Collective member, or looking to join up and jump into some classes, these are some of the questions you’ve either asked or have been secretly wishing you knew the answer to. Well, with the introduction of our new timetable, the following post is aimed at making the decision making process a little easier, and ensuring that you’re training the right way, smashing those goals!

What classes should I do?

This can sometimes be the biggest hurdle in starting a new fitness regime, or trying to work out how to incorporate something new into your already busy training schedule. Working out what classes are best for you should start with your fitness outcomes.
YELLOW (Targeting Aerobic Endurance)
As with any process, it's important to get the foundations right in order to successfully reach the end result. In this case, there is no point diving into a ‘GREEN’ class thinking that higher intensity efforts = quicker results. On the contrary, in order to get the most out of RED and GREEN Cycle classes, it's important that you work on your aerobic endurance. Think of it as the base layer to the overall fitness program, or the ‘pre-season’ phase in a football season.

YELLOW classes consist of longer (5+ minutes) efforts, working around what is known as your ‘Functional Threshold Power (FTP)’. This will be explored a little further on, but essentially this is the intensity you should be able to aerobically sustain for 60 minutes! Which means the YELLOW classes spend a large amount of time working around this zone (slightly above & below) in an effort to increase this number (i.e. get fitter). In doing so, this means you’ll have a solid ‘foundation’ in which you can reach above your FTP (Zone 4 on the score-card) in the RED and GREEN classes.

In an ideal world where time allows, at least one YELLOW class should be included into your weekly schedule (and trying to get out on the road at once, if not twice a week). Without YELLOW, there is no RED or GREEN. 

RED (Targeting strength ON the bike)
Formerly referred to as the ‘hills’ session, this class is all about building strength on the bike, while working on getting out of that saddle! If you’ve ever watched any of the Tour de France or Grand Tours, even though those hill climbers may be small, my word, they are strong!

So that’s what the RED classes are all about – increasing strength. What does that mean? It means efforts at a lower cadence (increasing that load), for shorter periods compared to YELLOW ( >3 minutes) but with smaller rest periods (<2 minutes). More load than YELLOW, but not quite as ‘intense’ as GREEN classes.

BLACK (Strength training OFF the bike)
Historically speaking, cyclists have always steered clear of gyms, squat racks and anything that involves more than their body weight. Not anymore!

Now is the time to complement all that hard work you’ve been doing ON the bike, but this time OFF the bike. Our Strength Studio comprises of state of the art facilities and addresses all the fundamental principles of strength training. With the help of Bill and Linda, we make sure that you’re doing the right kind of training in the gym, with progression being key.

Don’t let the words ‘squats’ and ‘deadlifts’ scare you. The BLACK classes are all about maximising your cycling performance through cycling specific strength and conditioning exercises. Core stability, lower and upper body strength are all addressed, meaning when it comes to those hills or the end of that session, you’ll be stronger than ever. And ladies, let me assure you, this does NOT mean that all your hard cardio work will go to waste; strength does NOT equal size!
So how many RED and BLACK classes? As they are training similar properties, collectively incorporating at least 2 classes a week is recommended, although with BLACK classes, an adaptation period will occur at the beginning, so if time allows, two BLACK and one RED! 

GREEN (Raising the bar and pushing limits)
GREEN classes are all about working in your upper zones and switching from your aerobic system, to anaerobic system. Lots of intervals, little bit of rest. If you’re not dripping in sweat after a GREEN class then you haven’t worked hard enough!

In saying that, don’t let the word ‘intensity’ scare you off, or that little ‘+’ sign that eludes to a 60 minute class. All this means is that you’re sweating up a storm working in harder zones, in order to help increase that Zone 4 (YELLOW). Think of the GREEN as the icing on the cake. It really tops off all the hard work you’ve been doing in the other classes. And yep, you guessed it; without YELLOW and RED, you won’t get the most out of GREEN!

Efforts are short and sharp, and rest periods are quick – blink and you’ll miss them – but at the end of the session, that sense of accomplishment is well worth it!

At least one GREEN class is recommended a week.

Putting it all together (structuring your week and working out your Zone Card)

When planning your weekly schedule, while there are a number of classes on offer; it's important to note that rest is just as important as the training itself. Which means:

  • You should have at least one day between RED and BLACK classes
  • You should have at least one day between GREEN classes 
  • These days can be filled with YELLOW; basically it's important to have a day between the higher intensity classes to ensure you’re giving your body a chance to recover and make the most of the hard work. Otherwise you’ll fizzle out and all that hard work will go to waste.

In the zone (testing yourself)

It's all well and good to have a ‘zone’ system in which you’re basing your efforts off, but if those zones are incorrect, then again, you’re not getting the most out of your training.

So, in order to maximise your training, it's suggested that you book yourself in for a ‘performance test’. Don’t let the word TEST scare you off, it's essentially an all-out 3 minute effort in which your training zones are worked out from.

While there are pre-calculated zone cards readily available, it's recommended that after a few weeks of familiarisation with the classes, best to book yourself in for a test. And guess what, it never ends! In order to keep improving it's important to keep re-testing. Otherwise as you get fitter, the workouts don’t get harder and you’ll stop seeing results. And no-one wants that! This is particularly important for GREEN classes.

What if I'm new and not sure if it’s right for me?

No problem! There are beginner classes which walk through the basics of how indoor cycling works.

It's suggested that any newbies to Cycle Collective (you don’t have to be a cycling newbie) enrol into a BLUE class prior to working out the rest of their timetable. This is simply to tick the boxes and make sure you’re comfortable with the bikes, the zones and how the whole process works prior to jumping in on the fun!

Still confused?

Don’t worry! Our helpful team will be able to answer any questions or queries you may have; and remember, there is no such thing as a silly question! Hopefully the above information has helped make the decision making process a bit easier, and has gotten you that little bit more excited about the coming months! At the end of the day, we’re here to help you get fit, train smart, and have fun!