Here are some tips from top experts and recent scientific research that will turbocharge your training without taking more time.

 

HIIT it. Swap a leisurely midweek cruise for a short session of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A slew of studies from the past five years shows that a few brief, gut-busting sessions can improve your endurance as well as much longer rides do. Going hard can prep your muscles to go long. The metabolic magic happens on two fronts. One: Endurance rides tend to hit only your slow-twitch muscle fibers, but HIIT training also recruits your high-speed fibers so you develop a bigger engine. Two: Your body becomes better at tapping into your fat stores to refuel for the next hard effort, so you become a more efficient fat burner.

Do the uber exercise. The simple decline push-up helps you get aero without the ouch. It not only makes your arms, shoulders and chest strong so you can hold that tuck while you hammer, but it also activates as many abdominal muscles as do crunches and sit-ups. Now drop and do 15: Lie face-down on an exercise ball with both hands on the floor. Walk your hands out, allowing the ball to roll beneath your legs until it is under your shins. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders. Keeping your torso straight and abs contracted, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the floor.

Start with a sports drink.
You may not need the carbs and calories from that Gatorade until mile 25, but sipping a sports drink with carbohydrate, rather than plain water, from the start of a long ride can help spare your precious muscle glycogen stores by about 50 percent in the first hour alone, according to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. This means you'll have more energy for the long haul.

Stretch--but only at the right time. Tight muscles can slow you down, but so can stretching--when it's done at the wrong time. A growing body of research shows that pre-exercise stretching causes muscles to relax, reducing force and power output for more than an hour afterward. Avoid stretching before you ride. Instead, stay strong and loose by stretching right after you rack the bike, when your muscles are most pliable. Hit cycling hot spots in the hamstrings and glutes with these two moves; do each stretch twice, holding for 15 to 30 seconds.

Step and Bend. Place right heel on a step in front of you, leg extended and foot flexed. Place hands on hips for support and, with your back straight, bend forward from the hips, feeling the stretch down the back of your right leg. Hold, then switch sides.

Figure-Four Stretch. Sit in a chair with your legs bent 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Cross your right ankle over your left knee so your calf is parallel to the floor. Keeping your back straight, lean forward from the hips until you feel a stretch deep in your right glute muscle. Hold, then switch sides.

Anchor your ankles. Improve your pedaling efficiency and put more pushing power directly into your pedals by keeping your ankles in a neutral, or pillar, position. A recent study discovered that when riders pedaled with their ankles dorsiflexed, or with the foot flexed upward, their pedaling efficiency dropped nearly 3 percent. Worse, their calves expended 37 percent more energy while pushing the pedals in that position. Keeping your ankles straight gives you a more solid platform on the pedals and can improve efficiency, reduce muscle fatigue and help maximize your power output.

"B" faster. Recent research suggests that active people who are low in B vitamins such as B6, B12, folate and riboflavin don't perform their best and may have trouble building muscle and producing oxygen—carrying red blood cells. During hard training, load up on B nutrients, which are essential for converting protein and carbs to energy and for repairing cells, by eating plenty of whole grains, dark-green veggies and low-fat dairy. Pop a daily multivitamin or start the day with a fortified cereal for extra insurance.

Begin with a bang.
Want to crush a short time trial? Shoot off the line. You may be rewarded with a faster finish than if you use a more even pace or a slower-start strategy. In a small study of racers, British researchers found that those who started a little faster than their average pace increased their time to exhaustion by 25 percent compared with those who started slowly or used a more even pace.

Perfect your taper.
If training is money in the bank, tapering is interest earned—the bonus speed you gain for the hard work you've invested. One recent study found that a seven-day taper improved cycling performance in a 20K time trial by 5.4 percent—more than a minute if you typically cruise at 20 mph. To rest and recover without feeling rusty on race day, cut your volume in half, but maintain or increase your up-tempo training intensity to 80 to 100 percent during your taper period so your legs don't forget what it feels like to go hard.

This article excerpted from bicycling.com

Here are some tips from top experts and recent scientific research that will turbocharge your training without taking more time.

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