9 training mistakes this coach sees most often in Irish cycling

Posted on: March 11th, 2019

If you’re riding your bike for leisure or performance; we all want to enjoy it more and get fitter and stronger. Follow some common sense training tips will really help (Photo: George Doyle)


Training on your own or in a group. Knowing when to train hard or take several breaks during the year. And transitioning properly out of and into a new racing or sportive season.

Training mistakes are made in all of these areas, and more, by riders of all ages and abilities across Irish cycling.

Ireland’s top-ranked A1 cyclist and coach Matteo Cigala talks us through the most common training mistakes he sees in Irish cycling.


9 training mistakes top coach sees in Irish cycling


By Matteo Cigala



1 Training with no structure and no training zones

Whether you’re using a power meter or a heart rate monitor, it’s important to use it correctly. You need to use them by following structured training sessions and fixing your own training zones.

A simple two hours spent cycling with a coffee stop won’t make you faster; structure with a specific focus is the key for improvement.


2 Having no goals and not training to goals

Set realistic targets that are exciting, challenging and that keep you motivated. It is best to select a short-term objective and a long-term objective in cycling.

After targets are set, share them with your coach. And then achieve them; both physically and mentally.

It is important that your training plan is specifically designed to fit around your training availability. Your training needs to factor in work and family commitments.

There is no point having a programme that you can’t stick to. This is a very common training mistake.

Your plan should be divided into specific time blocks. Each block should be set at the right time of year for your goals.

And each should have a particular focus that provides your body different training adaptations. This is called periodisation and the different blocks are called mesocycles.


3 Starting to train too soon for the next season

Starting to train in September for the following season is too early regardless of your goals. It is important to start at the right time, without burning yourself out.

Another mistake is doing too much too soon. There is no point in training every single day non-stop in November and December, for example, without allowing room for progression and recovery.

The key is to allow your body to recover in between hard blocks of training. And then you should make the next block a bit harder than the block just completed.

That way, you are constantly seeking out steady and consistent progression. You don’t want to start your season tired.


A message from Cigala Cycling

We’ve built a strong reputation for successfully coaching cyclists in Ireland of all abilities. Cigala Cycling’s clients include international road riders, leisure cyclists and everyone in between.

If you’re trying to improve to win races, get upgraded or you simply want to lose weight and generally get stronger, our coaching packages start from €100 per month. Our quality training cuts out time wasting and maximises your limited availability.

Our customised training is based on a relationship with each cyclist. As well as training planning and analysis we also cover nutritional advice, motivation, race tips, core work, stretching and gym work, among other areas. Check us out at cigalacycling.com


4 Ignoring in-season transition and off-season transition

Another common mistake is neglecting transition. There are two transition periods that every rider should have in their macrocycles; the off-season transition and the in-season transition.

The off-season transition spans from the last training block or the last race of the season until the first training block for the new season.

The in-season transition takes place during the racing season. It is that period from just after the first peak of the season until you start to build to the second peak of the season.

The purpose of transition is to rest and recover. You can then repair, rejuvenate and recharge your energy; giving yourself a short break from the singular focus of structured and challenging training.

The duration of transition varies between riders, goals and levels. It can be from one week during the season to four weeks in the off-season.

For competitive cyclists, missing the in-season transition period is often where the fine line between progression and overtraining is crossed.

Overtraining is an easy trap to fall into and it’s difficult to see for yourself if you don’t have a coach.


5 Not getting enough recovery

Without appropriate recovery, your body won’t have the chance to adjust to the training adaptations and you won’t see any improvement in your performance. Therefore, you need to ensure that after each training block you are fresh enough to start the next one.

Resting and recovery are critical components of any successful training programme in order to gain fitness and avoid overtraining. Skipping recovery or making easy days too hard is another big mistake.

Recovery is also vital in seeking super compensation; a post training period in which performance is enhanced after a period of hard training and recovery.

Recovery can be achieved in many ways, such as:

  • Including rest days and active recovery days into your training
  • Having a tapering week in your mesocycles
  • Getting enough sleep and good quality sleep
  • Following proper nutrition straight after the race/training
  • Keeping yourself hydrated
  • Performing cool down after races/training
  • Following your own zones
  • Including massages in your training and recovery routine
  • Compression socks and putting your legs up to improve circulation


6 Not following a proper nutrition regime

Another common mistake is forgetting to eat, or eating the wrong amount or type of nutrients, on and off the bike. For example:

  • Eating carbs or protein at the wrong time
  • Not eating enough daily protein or fats
  • You should avoid losing weight too quickly and avoid becoming afraid of eating carbs. Carbs are fundamental in endurance sports like cycling
  • Not taking an appropriate quantity of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from your diet or from supplements
  • During races, forgetting to eat at least 60 grams of carbs per hour and drink 500ml of fluids.
  • Within the 30 minutes window at the end of a race, forgetting to have at least 20 grams of protein and 1gr x kg of carbs


7 Going out with training partners too often

Going out with training mates is fun and enjoyable. But sometimes it is not effective training, especially if done too often.

The best time to go out with your training partners are days of long distance training and recovery rides, where the main goal is to build endurance or recover.

But on the days when you are supposed to follow a specific session, it is important to stick with the plan.


8 Not having a bike fitting

Before doing any proper training, it is important to have a professional bike fitting.  The position on the bike is essential for using your muscles 100 per cent.

A correct bike fitting can improve the performance of the rider and avoid injuries. It is important that your bike fit reflects your needs.

You should have a good combination of aerodynamics and comfort, whether you are a professional rider, or an amateur.

As a cyclist you won’t be getting the most out of your training if you are not fitted on your bike correctly.


9 Using the previous year’s workout or plans

There are many factors to take into consideration each year; goals, body, age, expectations, fitness level, power, strength and weaknesses. They vary each year. And so our training and our periodisation must change accordingly.

Similarly, if you had a medical check and blood tests last year, you can’t assume the results still apply one year later.

It is important to have an annual health check and blood test with your doctor and dentist.

These checks will ensure that there are no underlying issues with your health and you are ready to compete.

If not, they will identify early any underlying health or dental issues that need to be addresses before they worsen.