Matt Bottrill – Quality over Quantity


VeloUK talks training with Matt Bottrill who admits he averages only eight hours a week adding its quality over quantity

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Matt Bottrill – Quality over Quantity

Matt Bottrill ( kicked off the 2015 season in fine form in the 20 mile Kettering Hilly last weekend beating some quality testers in the process. Matt, who is developing his own coaching business, was keen to show that the speed on the bike he had in 2014 was still there.

“I’ve trained hard this winter as after all these years of racing, I still get nervous. I guess it’s the fear of defeat that spurs me on! But myself and Bob Tobin ( always love new ways of training to find new gains through training methods so we trained in a totally different way”.

“Believe me, it’s been hard but that what’s makes a champion, always setting new goals and limits. And I have never been more motivated to smashing it up!”


Matt not only has a job and a business to run but also a young family so time for training is limited!

Without doubt the best domestic time triallist in 2014, Matt broke long standing records and won blue ribbon championships whilst still working full time. With less than ten hours a week to spare, Matt has swapped hours on the bike for quality sessions that has helped him achieve record speeds.

There is a phrase in cycling, ‘don’t leave it on the road’ in reference to those that in training don’t have anything left for racing. But more and more, we hear top riders like Lizzie Armitstead and Matt Bottrill speak about how hard they train with the proper rest so they can race effectively as well.

Matt has been racing for so long, he admits he has had so many failings that he has learnt from them to know what works for him. “It’s why I can relate to people when they tell me their stories and I can say, I’ve done that so let’s do this”.

Many a cyclist will look to doing the hours on the bike but whilst that has its place, for some one like Matt, time on the bike is limited so he has to make the most of it.

“I average eight hours a week but when it comes to a key race, I’ll up that to ten hours a week” says Matt. “I don’t think people realise how hard I train. Some times, I’ll go out and average 25/26 mph. I’ve just done an hour on the Watt bike and average 27 mph. That is the key”.


Asked what a typical week would be for the champion tester, Matt replies “It s hard to give a typical week , because there is not one. I train different all the time but generally have two days off a week, normally Wednesday’s and Sunday. In the winter, 60% of my time is on the Wattbike bike and the most of everything else I do is on my training TT bike. It’s very rare I train under 20 mph. Summer, 80% on the road 20% on the Wattbike.

“The biggest downfall that riders have is that they use too much time at the wrong time. They train really hard in the winter and then they’ll come to racing and they will run out of hours. If you are working, there are only so many hours so there will be always be an optimal amount of time you have to train.”

“I always say to any rider, if you want improvements, then you need variety! So if you keep training in the same way or keep getting repeated training, I can tell you’re not even close to hitting your full potential.”

Asked if he trains every day, Matt replies “no. At the minute, I’ll have a couple of days off. The most I will ever do is two and half hours as it’s impossible to do any more.”

Having days off though is hard for many riders as they get the ‘guilt trip’ thinking I need to be training but Matt admits he never feels guilty having a day off. “I know the training I do is calculated. You know when you are going to peak, and I know how much training stress I can take and it’s taken years to get to this stage but you can optimise everything. There is no guess work in any of it”.

Finally, on the efforts he does in training, what’s a gruesome one I asked? “Simple” Matt replied. “Intervals to failure where you keep riding until you cant hold the power anymore. When I trained for the National 10 last year, I went so deep, I could hardly turn the pedals by the last interval. But to be honest, when I’m focused on really hurting myself, I can do this quite a lot”.


A very special image – Matt prepares to start in the British Time Trial Championship, as Bradley Wiggins, World Champion in 2014, watches.

Moving on to race day and his warm up for races, I asked Matt does it vary from race to race depending on terrain or distance? “I have tried so many different warmups after looking at what the Sky riders and others do and I have found it hardly makes any difference in what warm up I do”.

“If I want to race, and the head has that mind-set, then the warm up has made no difference to me personally. Everyone is different, so it’s about looking at what a specific rider needs.”

So do Matt’s warmups differ to those of the riders he coaches? “You do try different things with riders to find the one that works where with me, I have found over the years I have done so much, it doesn’t make any difference. A lot of it is psychological. You know if you are in that mind-set, it gives you the belief you are going to do it and go faster. That is the biggest part of it. It’s mentally that what most riders fail on.”


Matt has been racing for a long time and was accomplished on the road as well with wins in the Severn Bridge RR and the Eddie Soens memorial to name but two.

“If you know you have trained right, you have your position right, you know how to pace the race, then you should be able to get on the bike and say to yourself, this is my time, I have done everything to get the best out of myself. Then after, you can look back at the data and say ‘I have got everything out’.”

“I did the same warm up last year to the other years but then I guess I have the confidence to do that. I’m not saying that is right for everybody. There is no difference to how I warm up when I was a junior to where I am now. I try different things but I haven’t found it makes much difference.”

Asked if he has learnt from coaching other riders things he can apply to his own riding, Matt says “oh yes. I am learning from people all the time. I love it when a rider comes back to me and says I don’t think this is working and you can look at it and say, okay, let’s try this.”

“Not everybody is me. So you have to break down what their lifestyle is and what they are aiming for and their goals and work back from that. That’s what most riders and coaches don’t realise, it’s never one key element that will bring you success it’s a combination of everything and striking that fine balance, between lifestyle and training”.

Being aero is just one of the things that Matt and his team are keen on and for that he calls on Drag2Zero wind tunnel

Six tips from Matt to going faster:
1. GOALS: Set out what you are trying to achieve. IE, set your goals. Make these realistic, but also aim high! Don’t let others bring you down! Riders will always try and play mind games. Always focus the goal your aiming towards and not other riders. The goal should be distance, placing or time specific – not beating a rider!

2. TIME: Set out the time you will have available and this is where most riders will fail because they don’t account for work and how much stress that puts on the body and also their family life. This is when a good coach comes into play as they can hold you back or push if needed.

3. TRAINING: Once you know how much time, it’s about making the training quality over quantity. Don’t be afraid of failing as that is part of the learning process. You need to learn from mistakes e.g if you blew on a training session, write down what you ate and drank before and during. There’s so much you can analyse. Learning from mistakes is progression itself.

4. STEPPING STONES: To get to your goal you have to have stepping stones and rewards. So set benchmarks along the way. Events and races can keep you motivated in the short term and progress to the overall aim you are looking to achieve.

5. THE BIKE: Look at every aspect of the bike setup. You have to optimise everything, your bike to match the way you optimise your training and also optimise the pacing in your race. If you do all of that, you are only going to get faster.

6. REST & RECOVERY. This is the bit that most people neglect. They need to allow for days off. If you have the optimal training plan for what you are aiming for, then you should not feel guilty resting. You should learn to enjoy it.
Further information from Matt and his coaching

Other Links remixing limited time for training : Matt’s blog on the Giant website

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