What is the secret to progress?
I often get asked, “what is the key to progression of fitness and form through training?”
Over 15 years of being a full-time athlete, I have pretty much (through trial and error) tried
every different phase plan and or session there is! I’ve tried all kinds of “off the bike”
training and recovery methods: massage, dynamic stretching, static stretching, core work,
gym sessions, foam rollers, ice baths, different recovery shakes, different diets etc. The list
Too often, we get caught up looking for something relatively small and easy to do hoping it
will make the difference. There was a big push a few years ago with British Cycling and Team
Sky surrounding ‘marginal gains’ which suggested that concentrating on small minor details
would make the difference. This may be the case at the top of the World Tour racing scene
but it also gave false hope.
The aforementioned methods for marginal gains will definitely increase performance.
However, if you sit on the sofa all week with your fancy pneumatic recovery boots while
sipping your beetroot juice, your performance at the weekend isn’t going to be world class.
Without the major component for success, these smaller factors will have no real bearing.
I have seen it time and time again with my own training and with the training of clients. The
clients that progress the most and see the most gains are those that train most consistently
to the plan.
TrainingPeaks has a great way of showing consistency with their traffic light system:
Red for a session missed or completed wrong
Amber for a session completed partially correct
Green for a session completed correctly
There are some downfalls to their system but, on the whole, it gives a good overall picture.
It is a really simple way of showing you how consistent you have been, just scroll through
the past few months and see how many reds and ambers you have.
Changing days around, skipping sessions or even adding in sessions, having “red days” is a
sure-fire way of losing the rhythm of the training plan. The plan will have been created with
adequate rest days and in a sequence to get the most out of each day.
There is a reason that CTL (chronic training load) is usually set over 42 days. It is the
minimum time frame that long-term training load can be measured according to Coggan.
This means you need to show 42 days of consistency as a minimum. Creating long-term load
and fatigue leads to progression and creates real long-term physical adaptations… which is
the real key to success.
For a lot of people, consistency can be the hardest factor to control with the ups and downs
of everyday life. Jobs, family and unforeseen circumstances can all lead to inconsistent
One way to overcome this is to get yourself a coach. 9 times out of 10 you will make more
time for the training session if you have paid for it and you are accountable to someone
else. When life gets in the way, a coach can help tweak and change the original plan to still
get the most out of the situation and to get you back on track. It’s easy for a couple of bad
days training to turn into bad weeks, but a coach will hold you accountable and keep you
motivated on your goals.
If you are interested in one to one monthly coaching or a one-off 6 or 12 week plan, please
do not hesitate to get in contact: email@example.com