- - Three Key Areas it’s Never Too Early to Work Hard on During Winter

Three Key Areas it’s Never Too Early to Work Hard on During Winter


‘No longer should our racing category be determined by available training hours’

article by Anthony Walsh 

Traditional training philosophies dictated that we should ride for endless hours in the winter in order to develop an aerobic base and improve our aerobic efficiency. However, for those of us based in this part of the world, this is particularly problematic – the time we are being asked to log the highest volume is a time when the weather is at its worst.

In recent years there has been a break from traditional practices, with more and more top riders and sports scientists advocating a reverse periodization structure.

This system turns conventional wisdom on its head – taxing the upper training zones early in the training cycle. This is great news for us time-crunched athletes living in Norht-Western Europe, who don’t like to ride endless kilometres on cold, dark evenings.

By focusing on physiological systems from the top down we can ‘pull’ each system up and elicit a greater training adaptation than the traditional bottom up structure.

A1 Coaching’s 12-week winter training plan is built around emerging research, which can have profound effects for working or full-time student athletes who need to get the most out of limited training time.

No longer should our racing category be determined by available training hours. Adherence to a top-down training structure can mean riders who train fewer hours are able to excel where previously they were passengers in races.

This training philosophy is a marked divergence from traditional ‘old school’ training principles. During the 12-week vase period, riders will work with a specific focus on developing:

Threshold Power
We can increase ‘threshold power’ by working just below threshold (pushing it up) or just above threshold (pulling it up). Over the course of the 12-week ‘base period’, we’ll use both strategies to increase your ability to clear lactate.

VO2 Max Power
Traditional logic wouldn’t encourage the implementation of V02 efforts until late in the ‘build-phase’. However, we’ll utilise efforts ranging from 1-5 minutes throughout the Build-Phase to increase weekly ‘training stress scores’.

Maximum Sprint
Regardless of our targets for next season, there exists a body of literature to back up the use of lactate base sprints during our base phase. A welcome bonus from ‘training your sprint all year around’ is that the next time you come to the line sprinting for prizes, you can be confident this is a skill you’ve practiced over and over again.

By taxing these systems early in our macro training cycle, we can take advantage of increased freshness to deliver maximum adaptations.

If you like this article and want to know more about building a perfect winter base program, click here for free access to A1 Coaching‘s Winter Training Video Series.

Embrace the intensity revolution.

Anthony Walsh is the founder and Director of A1 Coaching.

He grew up in a house enveloped by a love of cycling and it became a core part of his life from an early age. Anthony’s father was a bike mechanic and his apprenticeship began at an early age, working on bikes long into the night in a makeshift garage in the family home.

Anthony’s father was also a true fan of the sport and Anthony absorbed a love and appreciation for the sport that would one day turn into his profession.

Initially the bike was a tool of utility for transport. As a child, it allowed Anthony to explore beyond the boundaries of his local neighbourhood and expand his horizons. This, in time, led to summer-long romances and life-long friendships. The initial tool for transport would later morph into a means by which Anthony would earn his living.

Anthony took up cycling competitively in his early 20s as a student in University College Dublin (UCD) – a string of injuries had ended a long soccer career that included an All-Ireland Winners’ medal with Bohemians Football Club.

After a degree in Economics, Anthony’s academic career changed focus and he turned his attention to Law. He earned an MA in Law and a Barrister at Law Degree from The Honorable Society of Kings Inns.

Anthony excelled on the domestic cycling scene while balancing the demands of full-time study and his performances acted as the springboard to a professional career. He would go on to compete for the Irish National team and sign contracts in France with Division Nationale Team, Super U; in Canada with Jet Fuel Coffee, and in the US with Astellas Oncology Pro Cycling.

Anthony’s academic background gave him a particular perspective which helped him to learn within the professional environment. He fostered relationships, worked with top coaches and respected directors, and interacted with some of the world’s top riders against whom he competed. He soaked up the knowledge gained from these experiences while also studying everything he could find on up-to-day scientific training methods.

The analysis of all this input, viewed through his academic lens, gave Anthony a unique perspective and insight into top athletes’ successful training and conditioning regimes.

By 2011 Anthony had begun to advise friends in a structured way on how to prepare for events. Word soon began to spread about the successes gained on the back of his advice. In this way Anthony had, unintentionally, made the first steps in establishing a professional coaching service.

As the demand for his services grew, Anthony envisioned a coaching and mentoring approach based on the best available scientific evidence, combined with a high-level of practical experience and common sense. This would be blended with sensitivity to the unique physiology, ambition and life circumstances of every individual, and also respect cycling’s rich heritage, culture and handed-down wisdoms.

When his professional career ended due to injury, Anthony set aside his legal career to establish A1 Coaching based on this vision, and to return to domestic racing with his old UCD club.

The results were nothing short of astounding: National Road Racing Champions and Triathlon Age Group Winners as examples. He has advanced the career of every athlete he has touched and riders in his stable are achieving their ambitions and winning races all over the world.

As the business grew, Anthony recruited a team of coaches which would bring as broad a spectrum of expertise and experience as possible. While each coach brings a particular perspective and unique experiences, each shares the vision and approach that Anthony articulates for A1 Coaching.

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