I was fascinated to come across this interview with pro rider Adam Hansen the other day, in which he spoke at some length about how, if he were a coach, he would train amateur athletes. By and large, what he said, I do!
One word of caution is taking on too early his advice to ride without food for long low intensity rides. Doing that too often on long (ie 4 hrs +) rides can certainly lead to hitting the wall and possibly even worse. However he is spot on if you take that advice for rides up to an hour (even if high intensity), as riding for up to 60 mins without food leads to the changes he is talking about (the body using fat as an energy source more effectively).
However, interestingly, this is supported by research to be advisble for men, but not women.
For more on this, see here:https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/01/22/eat-before-exercise.aspx
There's also some intriguing research that is suggesting that not only is not eating before training good for men in terms of calories burnt, but that it has an even greater impact on general health, in terms regulating genes that produce proteins that affect insulin and blood sugar levels. A Dr. Thomson says in the article linked below that:
“If we just think of this in evolutionary terms,” Dr. Thomson said, “our ancestors would have had to expend a great deal of energy through physical activity in order to hunt and gather food. So, it would be perfectly normal for the exercise to come first, and the food to follow.”
Hansen then moves on to talk about doing rides in the fat-burning zone, which is something I try to get my athletes doing. I say 'try' because many of them really don't enjoy riding around at the speeds and for the duration that come with getting into that zone. Many struggle and, has to be said, many grumble too! But, if weigh loss is part of the aim of the athlete, these 'Steady Eddie' days are necessary. Hansen explains just why very well:
"The only thing I am conscious of is not training too hard, in order to make sure I stay at the right fat-burning metabolism. People don’t realise this but if you do more than 15 seconds near your threshold (the maximum effort you can sustain for an hour) you actually tag back your fat metabolism and it takes 20 minutes to get your body back into its fat-burning zone. That’s fine if you’re doing intervals to boost your fitness, but not if you’re looking to improve your fat-burning metabolism. So at the start of the season it’s good to keep your heart rate and yours watts nice and low."
Also note that Hansen ride for 3 days then rests, meaning rest days come regularly, which is something I struggle to get some of my guys to do (you know who you are!). It's fine to ride 6 days a week, even 7, if your only aim is to ride about all day, but, if you have particular goals, such as a Haute Route or a Masters World Champs or some such, then it's not going to help in the long run. Rest is essential!
OK, over to Mr. Hansen.
Click here for the full interview:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/secret-science-cycling-fitness-tour-de-france-pro/?fbclid=IwAR3jMZxVeUWR8SCyQOHMKjigqhNTmIj5rvWEgfvlhfwTvk2FWWiNaNdriQk