How to train in winter


When winter is installed, it becomes difficult to practice outdoor sports. It is therefore advisable to orient one’s practice towards activities more adapted to winter conditions.

The home-trainer (bike)

The Home-trainer is a particularly interesting tool to continue pedaling indoors. The main interest of the home-trainer is to make qualitative and non-quantitative sessions.

The typical session:

Objective: to develop maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max)

Content: Start with 20 minutes of progressive warm-up, then do 2 sets of 8 accelerations of 30 seconds to your maximum aerobic power with a rate between 100 and 110 rpm. Between each effort, take 30 seconds of active recovery without forcing on the pedals. Collect 4 minutes between the 2 sets. End the session with 10 minutes of low intensity pedaling.


Running is a particularly interesting activity. It is an excellent exercise, both in heart and muscle. Running should ideally be practiced on soft terrain to limit traumatic stress.

The typical session:

Goal: gain muscle power

Contents: Start with 20 minutes of progressive warm-up, then do 8 to 10 times « 15 seconds of stepped acceleration ». Recover by returning by walking to the starting point. End the session with 10 minutes of low intensity jogging.

Strength training 

In winter, it is particularly pleasant to force yourself at home or in a « gym » room, when the elements are unleashed outside. Bodybuilding has many advantages, especially for cyclists lacking muscle strength.

The typical session:

Objective: To develop strength

Contents: Start with 15 minutes of progressive warm-up on the home trainer, then do 3 sets of 5 times (10 half-squat / 10 incline / 5 left-hand only) / 5 right-leg flexion alone / 5 minutes of home-training in endurance). Finish the session by 10 ‘pedaling flexibly.


Swimming has many benefits, including working the breath while performing muscle strengthening of the back and 


The typical session:

Objective: Develop breath and maximum oxygen consumption

Content: Start with 400 to 800m of progressive warm-up alternating crawl and breaststroke according to your level, then do 10 times (25 m crawl fast, followed by 25 breaststroke in active recovery).
Recover by swimming soft (back with two arms, breaststroke ..), for 5 to 10 minutes.

Nordic skiing

Nordic skiing has many things in common with cycling, particularly in terms of cardiac activity. Indeed, the fact of being at altitude makes it possible to develop muscular oxygenation mechanisms (red blood cells, enzymatic system …).

The typical session:

Objective: improving endurance

Content: hilly course of 1h30 while remaining in breathing comfort


For those who wish, despite difficult environmental conditions, to continue to practice cycling outdoors, some tips can be formulated:

First and foremost, it is essential to ride with appropriate clothing. The application of the three-layer concept is perfectly suited: 1 breathable technical garment + 1 insulating and breathable intermediate jacket + 1 breathable waterproof wind-stopper or gore-tex jacket. In parallel, the protection of the extremities (feet, hands, head) must be optimal.
In a second time, when it is very cold, it is very interesting to preheat on home-trainer before going to ride outdoors. To do this, it is necessary to equip oneself as to go to ride outside (thermal jacket, over-shoes, winter gloves, helmet …), then to ride on a home-trainer and to roll about ten minutes equipped with the type. When the temperature rises and the sweat starts to be felt, it means that the machine is ready to go out!

NB: The pedaling on home-trainer can be replaced by series of inflections and pumps.

Once in action, it is necessary to roll in a qualitative way by doing a work at intervals. In terms of nutrition, the use of a hot energy drink is unavoidable, the average dosage is 500ml of drink per hour of effort.
When returning from the effort, it is advisable to shower and change quickly. Consumption of a recovery snack is essential to restore energy reserves and promote physiological adaptations.

Fat mass and cold resistance

The study of human or animal populations living in frosty environmental conditions shows that the reserves of subcutaneous fat are a good protection against cold. In fact, the subcutaneous adipose tissue makes it possible to limit the heat losses and constitutes an appreciable potential energy store for the situations of scarcity.
Except for extreme polar or Himalayan expeditions, cyclists who are passionate about winter sports will rarely have to deal with situations of scarcity. Nevertheless, it is not uninteresting to take a few kilograms during the offseason, taking care however not to exceed the threshold of 5% of its weight of form.

Jean-Baptiste WIROTH
Doctor of Sport Sciences
Founder of the coaching company WTS – The Coaching Company®

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