Wednesday Wisdom: Gareth Winter – Breaking through the plateau

A band showing brand colours of CicloZone, an indoor cycling app

What do you do when you reach the plateau: The point where your progress begins to slow and your PB’s become few and far between?

The temptation is to do more. However, doing less might be the key to breaking through the ceiling. 

Becky James (ex GB track cyclist, World Sprint and Keirin Champion, Rio Olympics Double Silver Medallist) once taught me an old British Cycling phrase:

“There is no such thing as overtraining, just under resting.”

Although I enjoyed the sentiment, I never truly realised its meaning until I began resting just as hard as I trained.

If you ride too hard, too much, you burn out and fail to recover. I like to ride my bike every day; for my head and my body. It’s a necessary escape from the pressures of modern society.

Unless you respect your recovery days, you are just clocking up ‘junk miles’. I now train hard three days a week. The other four days are active recovery – where I limit myself to riding at 50% of my FTP. I like to ride in my recovery zone on my turbo trainer with Netflix or Eurosport to keep me company – or if it’s a nice day, I like to go out ‘sunbathing on two wheels’.

If you turn up to your training sessions with a strong body, you kick out better numbers and can do more (good) damage than if you turned up fatigued. 

If your body is tired, under-rested, under-fuelled, under-slept, and your head can’t take another torturous sweat-fest – you are never going to get the best out of yourself. 

On my active recovery days, I like to do some core and strength training but I always make sure I don’t let my legs get involved too much. 

Another British Cycling phrase:

“Why stand when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down?”

As you can see, professional athletes take recovery seriously, and so should us amateurs. It’s the key to sustainable fitness and lifestyle. 

I have broken through my plateau, and I am now seeing some great numbers.

In my next blog, I will talk about VO2max or Zone 5 training, which has not only unlocked a bit more power – but I have packed on so much leg muscle that none of my trousers fit…!


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