We will leave aside the professionals who cut straight in October, sometimes a little earlier, or a little later if they do cyclo-cross. With 25,000 to 30,000 km covered, they need a vacation. But they will start again in the second half of autumn because the training of this period allows them to reach a good level for the beginning of the season. However, everyone knows that the new season starts very early with the events held in Australia and the Middle East.

For cyclists, and also more and more cyclists who have nothing to envy them in terms of competitiveness (only the chosen federation changes, in fact!), autumn and the beginning of winter are to be used to lay the foundations for the upcoming season.

Nowadays, the sacrosanct and ancestral winter break is no longer appropriate. Everyone does as they feel. However, it can be said that it is relevant to various sports activities in November to maintain each other: Mountain biking, hiking, sports hall, ball sports (hand, volleyball…), swimming, etc… It depends on your desires and the opportunities that present themselves. The important thing is to maintain a certain level of physical fitness while having fun.

December becomes more serious again with the resumption of training. Road trips will depend a lot on the weather. You can also continue mountain biking outings during which you suffer less from the cold than on the road, and introduce work sessions on home-trainer. In another article, I will come back to the home-trainer by proposing new training exercises.

In this pivotal period of late autumn, it is not useless to recall some basics in terms of training.

First of all, cycling, both outdoors and indoors (with home trainer pedalling, in a closed environment, which is not neutral) requires knowing if there are no medical contraindications. As a practitioner, I am very interested in training – this article is still proof of this – but I always insist on what I think is imperative, such as a medical visit to the attending doctor to take stock of the situation with a view to a well-identified cycling practice. I often talk about it in my articles but my personal experience in health matters about this or that form and level of practice leads me to a certain caution in my training advice. Deep in the bike, yes, but with the agreement of his doctor.

Training courses and areas

There are commonly 4 training channels and areas:


This is the basic endurance that is practised by not exceeding 50% of its potential in terms of heart rate. Let us recall here the formula used to determine the intensity of the effort as a percentage of the maximum HR (maximum heart rate).

(fc max – fc rest) x % effort intensity + fc rest

For example, for a cyclist whose FC max is 175 bpm and the rest frequency is 50 bpm, the effort intensity of 50% corresponds to 112 beats per minute (bpm).

As its name suggests, lipolysis allows the degradation of lipids, and therefore weight loss.

Pedalling in lipolysis is not tiring, it can be done for hours without pain or aches and pains.


Aerobic capacity is the fundamental endurance, to be practised alone or in a group. Working in an aerobic zone is between 50 and 75% of your heart rate potential.

With the example of the cyclist mentioned above, this area is located in 112 and 143 bpm. You can drive between 2 to 3 hours depending on the degree of intensity achieved between these 2 frequencies. Leg pain increases with intensity.


This is the aerobic/anaerobic threshold, which is generally between 70 and 80% of its potential. Still, with our cyclist, the work will be between 143 and 156 bpm. There, the pace, which is becoming very fast, cannot be maintained as it stands beyond 15 minutes. Or you will have to increase your heart rate to maintain the same performance. Pain in the legs, back and arms appear over time. Training in this area then consists of sequences of 5 to 15 minutes, interrupted by a return to calm. The number of repetitions per session will depend in particular on its level.


Potential beyond 75/85% of FC max, i. e. above 143/156 bpm in our example. The pain is severe and quickly becomes unbearable. The corresponding efforts will not exceed 3 minutes maximum (long sprint) depending on its level, but may not exceed 20 seconds for a short sprint.

It is obvious that the working sessions within these different fields, especially the last 3, can only be conceived after a warm-up worthy of the name.

Muscle strengthening

The winter period is also an opportunity to strengthen your pedal stroke. Pedalling is an excellent way to build muscle, using large gears.

The authors distinguish 4 levels of muscle strengthening.

Endurance strength

That is the easiest thing to do. The corresponding exercise consists of pedalling between 40 and 60% of its FC max (always apply the above formula to determine this range). During an outing on a flat or very undulating course, for example, 15 to 30′ will be spent on rolling up a gear slightly larger than the one you spontaneously put on, i.e. with 1 to 3 more teeth depending on the terrain. Let’s not forget that it’s endurance. The pedalling rate will, therefore, be lower than usual, as will the speed.

  •   The resistance force       

It is a work in intensity that is carried out between 60 and 70% of its maximum FC. We’re here, almost at the aerobic/anaerobic threshold. The exercises are done on short sequences in ribs (around 5′) or a little longer on false flats (around 10′) with a gearbox 3 to 5 teeth larger than usual. The pedalling rate to be stabilized will be around 50 rpm.

Do not forget to do 15′ of recovery between each sequence, as well as at the end of the session.

Obvious advice does not embark on this type of exercise on an empty stomach, because it is hard. Essential energy drink.

Neuromuscular strength

By working between 65 and 80% of its FC max, we are about at the threshold. To do this, even more gears are used, 4 to 6 more teeth than normal. The sequences are short, 2 to 4′, interspersed with 8′ of recovery by pedalling smoothly. The pedalling rate decreases, from 30 to 50 rpm depending on the terrain.

This type of exercise is very difficult. It is simply impossible to maintain the indicated heart rate. Hence, adapt at any time to stop the drift of the heartbeat.

These exercises can be done more easily on descending false dishes. Remember to eat and drink well.

The explosive force

I quote here for the record this 4th level because it exists. But, reserved for couriers who are rather sprinters, I strongly advise my readers not to get into it. Indeed, it is a question of making sequences from 20 to 30 ” by going up to 100% of its max FC. Too dangerous. And I believe that most cyclists and cyclists are not affected by explosive force.


In any case, the most motivated cyclists are already planning for 2019. Some have already decided to run the Marmot, the Tour Stage and several other cyclists, others who will do the Ard├Ęche anyway (the formulas are many and varied, which allows reaching a wide range of riders). Personal objectives can also include a mountain weekend with your club or the climb of a mythical past (out of competition).

The objectives necessarily vary from one cyclist to another. But in any case, in order not to struggle at the crucial moments of the season, it is important to prepare well in advance. Also, the elements communicated in this article can be useful for everyone to start structuring their return to training. Of course, everyone will adapt the exercises to their convenience, in terms of intensity, duration and number of sequences within the same outing. Wanting to reproduce precisely all that is mentioned could be counterproductive if the body and mind do not follow, or even dangerous to one’s health. That is why I always advocate for a real medical examination before a certificate of no contraindication to cycling is issued.