Posted in: Paddy Doran
By Paddy Doran
Nov 11, 2011 - 7:04:00 AM

Paddy Doran has written a number of tips that will give you an edge for next season if you take what is useful for you from them.

This is a great time of year to build on last season, learn from the season and implement new strategies for next season. Here's some of the most potent things that you can do to improve your fitness and performance for next year.

1 Book a ramp test in a testing lab
2 Set Goals and plan your training program me now
3 Organise a good training group for your winter training
4 Do some Cross training
5 Achieve optimum weight


Ramp test. There are a number of labs around the country where they do very good physiological tests for cyclists. Trinity College - Cork University - Waterford IT - Jordanstown University Belfast - Tralee IT - UCD - DCU

There may be others but these are the main ones that I am aware of. Phone the main phone numbers and they will direct you to the labs in most cases.


- Will give you a health check
- Will often check your bloods
- Will determine accurate heart rate or power training zones based on your test results
- Will show improvements and training methods to further improve performance if you have a series of tests
- Will reduce episodes of over-training or illness from over-training


If you are experienced this shouldn't be a problem. If you are new to the sport try to do this with some other club members and with some input from your club coach, experienced club riders or with advice/ support from a qualified coach.

This means planning when where and how will you train. Also who you will train with. The plan should be progressive working towards a peak for your most important goals.


- Training is more progressive
- Planning well will improve your motivation to train.
- You will gain better improvements for the training completed



Has your traditional training group consistently produced improvements in riders who participated in it over the years? If it has stick with it, if not have a review and see how it can be improved.

The ideal training group is made up of riders who are around the same ability who have a plan and goals for each time they go out training together. It's also made up of riders who have the discipline to follow the plan. Ideally the group should comprise riders who are training for similar goals.


- Quality training
- Improves group/team cohesiveness
- Better progression in training volume and intensity
- Less injuries fatigue and over-training problems



Cross training during the winter months can make a significant contribution to your performance during the season.

By including other training activities like swimming, jogging hill walking, rowing circuit training, you can build up significant levels of aerobic fitness as well as improving core fitness and muscular, tendon and ligament strength. This can be a good injury prevention strategy and also gives some variety to training programs which help to maintain your enthusiasm for training. This is an important factor when you are into January and February and are trying to clock up the mileage on the bike.


Some weight bearing exercises (walking/running/ circuit training) in conjunction with good nutrition are an important part of maintaining healthy bones. Cycling does not give the level of weight bearing needed to stimulate bone growth, so some weight bearing exercise is essential to avoid bone density reduction which can lead to osteoporosis later in life.


- Makes training more efficient
- Produces a stronger fitter athlete
- Gives more options during bad weather
- May assist in injury prevention
- Assists with bone health


If you struggled with extra weight or to maintain a healthy minimum weight during last season now is the time to work towards achieving your ideal weight.

This time of the training and competitive season is the ideal time to work towards achieving your optimal racing weight. .Each individual is likely to have an optimum weight where they perform really well and remain healthy.

There is a minimum level of body fat required for good health. For men it's 3-5% and for women 12-15%. Remember that these are minimum levels and it's neither desirable nor realistic to try to achieve this level all the time and some people will not be able to maintain health at such low levels.


Reducing body fat any lower than this will usually create health problems and poor performance. A lot of riders may be higher than the recommended percentages and still perform very well. It's very unlikely that a rider will perform well if they are below the recommended percentages. This is especially true if the rider loses some of their ability to generate power in the process of losing weigh which often happens.

So always do everything possible to support good training and increase of power. Good nutrition is a major factor in achieving this.


Power to weight ratio is important for climbing especially and is really important if you are a grand tour contender where you might have to race three or four major cols in one stage where an extra kilo might be the difference in winning or losing a mountain stage or the overall.

However these riders are generally achieving their tour De France weights with excellent medical and nutritional backup from qualified Professionals and only achieve their lowest weight for a few weeks around the Tour De France as it is neither desirable nor realistic to be so light for extended periods.

However this this is not such a factor in Irish races where we don't have the massive climbs of the grand tours. If you concentrate on good nutrition that supports demanding training and on increasing your power output with very good training you will make good gains.


The most important thing about weight loss or gain is to get the correct advice and support. There is a lot of misconceptions and misinformation in cycling circles about nutrition and often too much focus on weight loss compared to focusing on healthy nutrition which will give consistent performances from a healthy rider.

Do not take specific advice about weight loss from people who are not qualified to give the advice. I have seen this causing damage to a number of riders who took on board very poor advice or comments from unqualified people and had a season ruined through under-performing and illness.


Experience shows that a healthy happy athlete who might be a few kilos above their optimum weight will perform better than an underweight unhappy rider who is constantly ill from their immune system being compromised by poor nutrition not supporting their training workloads and the stress of constantly worrying about their weight. .


If you need professional support in regard to nutrition get it from the experts and the best place to start is with Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute (INDI) Sport Nutrition group. These are all accredited Sports Nutritionists with University Degrees who have trained for many years and have experience working with athletes.


- Accept that there are no magic diets or food, and get the best advice possible and follow that advice.
- Bring in an accredited INDI sports nutritionist to present a session to your club members on sports nutrition.
- Have a nutritional assessment from an INDI sports nutritionist
- Buy a good sports nutrition book by an accredited sports nutritionist to refer to when you have questions or for advice.
- Develop good habits based on the information of the experts.
- Don't take advice from people who are not qualified (even though well intentioned) to comment on nutrition other than for general information.
- Distinguish between promotions and advertisements where you are being sold something with endorsement from top athletes and independent advice which is based on research.
-- The next time someone (unqualified) says you need to lose weight, ask them how many calories they think that you need to be taking' Bet you most of them don't have a clue, an accredited Sports Nutritionist would be able to answer that question for you and more.

Enjoy your cycling