Sixth Sense Analysis discussed a paper by de Bruign et al in EJAP showing that by doing a series of 15 maximal breath holds subjects were able to increase EPO levels by 24%, which was on par with exposure to altitude exposure of about 6000 ft. EPO remained elevated for nearly 5 hrs. The findings suggest why Hct and Hb levels are higher among free divers.
The off-season: TAKE A BREAK! You need to stay active and and move into your winter/off-season program, which should include things other than your main sport,like strength training. Take stock in your have in your "tool box? – your STRENGTHS. Decide what cost you the most last year, or even the past few years. Usually there’s 2 or 3 things that pop up. BAM! You have your winter focus.
• 12 – 16 weeks focus on these 2 or 3 things and let your schedule dictate your schedule. If your work schedule doesn't fit the typical training model with Monday as a rest day then use something that does. Flexible periodization allows you to accommodate disruptions and other problems, where linear is more rigid.
• Strength training doesn't need to be at the gym. A home system can work, but either way, use a full range of motion when possible.
• DON’T FEAR INTENSITY! Shorter intervals can help sprints AND Time trialing/steady efforts like threshold.
Pre-season: Taper back strength training, but don’t feel the need to stop altogether. Plan a few big rides, or even a camp. These blocks of endurance really help you find your rhythm on the bike. Hammer rides in moderation! Alternate often!
In -Season: most of your focus should be placed on honing your fitness, reducing volume before important events and adding volume and reducing intensity when not competing. This change of pace can really help keep you progressing. And don’t forget, it’s ok to take a break!