Specificity, periodization, power meters - training for competitive cycling has changed a lot over the last few years.

I am wondering about the effects of the movement towards training alone on the group dynamics of cycling teams, specifically local or regional amateur teams.

I've been lucky to have grown up around cycling and a few cycling teams. As I recall, training used to be focused on frequently riding together not only for getting in the hours and miles in on the bike but for practicing pacelining and tactics. Now, more and more people are training using power meters and following very specific workouts that are built around their idiosyncratic FTP and power levels. This level of specificity makes it difficult to coordinate group rides that are relevant to the highly specified training plan. For example, if my coach tells me to go out and do two 20 minute intervals in the Tempo Power level across a two hour ride with some 3 minute VM intervals, unless I have a riding buddy whose Tempo and VM levels are really close to mine we really can't ride together effectively.

So I'm curious how, or if, others are dealing with this as well? How has the cycling team, as a social construct, had to adapt to advances in training method and technique? Does anyone have any tips on how to build and maintain comradery and team-unity while also allowing folks the flexibility to train according to their own plan?

  • Periodization of training is new in cycling, in the last few years? Hard to believe, sorry. – Kaz Oct 8 '13 at 19:46
  • Ok, maybe not periodization but I would definitely argue that specificity has increased. Any thoughts on the actual question - How to maintain group cohesion in a team when everyone wants to train on their own? – Kevin Oct 8 '13 at 19:58
  • This is where a team coach fits in. Most cycling events are individual (even though the team may get a result also), so you need a personal program, but every team requires a coach. – andy256 Oct 9 '13 at 1:01
  • We have a problem in our team that half of the top riders have power meters and the other half don't. The trainer is focused on training according to heart rate because the rest of the group (many much older and slower riders) also only have HRMs. So this leaves the top riders having to do at least some of their own training. We are working to get them to fall in line on the long weekend group rides, though they often end up riding off the front. – robthewolf Oct 9 '13 at 10:03

When most of your training is comprised of specific workouts then obviously you will be training solo a majority of the time. The best way to gel as a team is to do a lot of races together. Set aside a day each week for a group ride and don't limit it to just your team, make it competitive. This is a good time to work on your sprints, etc. A week long training camp early in the season is good, too.


Assuming you're talking about road, I think you're very much understating the important of team dynamics and strategy. Personal fitness is very important, but understanding how to work with your team is crucial to winning, even at lower levels of road racing and especially at higher levels.

While I think it's true that training programs have become increasingly individually specific, the importance of cooperation with the team and strategy of road racing has increased at the same if not a faster rate.

  • I totally agree. That's why I'm concerned about finding a healthy balance between the benefits of highly specific training and the need for a solid group dynamic within the team. – Kevin Dec 12 '13 at 15:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.