Many of you reading this article will have completed your priority A race, and hopefully achieved your goals whilst having fun, and are now focusing on your B priority race. The remainder of you are probably looking forward to your A priority race in the second half of the racing season. No matter what camp you find yourself in, I have some guidance and some simple sessions on how to bolster your bike conditioning.
You have done all the long miles on the weekend and spent many hours on the turbo finely tuning your technique. You have spent countless hours of interval efforts surrounded by a pool of perspiration while your wife / husband and sometimes kids question whether you should be making abnormal breathing noises. Have you ticked all the boxes required to help you achieve your full potential? I have personally found that many triathletes fall far short of achieving their true cycling potential because they fail to commit to two key areas in their training.
The lack of planned recovery within the weekly program, including a recovery week within each 4-week cycle will hinder your development. Your body requires time to recover, repair and adapt to the overload its put under on a daily basis. Your body requires rest, otherwise you will not progress your conditioning to the next level, nor avoid injury and will continue to tread water at best.
Fitness is achieved by overload followed by recovery and you need the right balance!
To achieve the most from your training, you should become aware of your training intensity or how hard you are working. The top end (lactate tolerance) is frequently neglected by many. If you ever find yourself struggling to take a worthy turn on the front of a chain gang, lack power climbing a short accent or even closing a small gap during a weekend group ride with friends, incorporating lactate tolerance sessions into your program is likely to help you achieve that edge that we have always wished for.
There are a number of ways to measure how hard you are training. Heart rate monitors have become widely used, although there are limitations. (For example you should be aware that heart rate zones should be reassessed periodically). It is useful to use heart rate in conjunction with RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion. There are several different scales for RPE. The one used below is a 15 point Borg scale. The following table illustrates a relationship between heart rate zones and RPE. Using wattage is a great way to measure your intensity as it is less affected by external conditions.
The training intensity chart below are based on a MHR (Maximum Heart Rate of 165bpm and a FTP (Functional Threshold Power)of 250watts as an example.
Sessions to get the edge
So what are the bike training sessions required to help achieve this so called edge?! These sessions are aimed at boosting your VO2 max. Incorporate Turbo 1, once a week within your program before moving on to Turbo 2 the following month. Once you are physically comfortable with Turbo 2, you can alternate the Road 1 session with Turbo 2 on alternative weeks.
The focus throughout the session is to maintain a firm but relaxed upper body, all movement and power from the hips and below.
WU: 15 min build up to 100 rpm
MS: 5 x 2:30 min at 113-120% of FTP with 3min easy spinning recovery – see chart above to relate this intensity to RPE or heart rate zones
(Build into the first rep, attempt to remain relaxed with all the movement coming from the hips and below. Your goal is to maintain a smooth even effort. RPE17-18 Perceived Exertion Very Hard, 89-95% of MHR, 120% of FTP if your using wattage)
CD: 10 min easy spinning
WU: 10 min build up to 100 rpm
MS: 5 x 3 min 113-120% of FTP with 3 min easy spinning recovery
(Build into the first rep, attempt to remain relaxed with a all the movement coming from the hips and below. Your goal is to maintain a smooth even effort. RPE17-18 Perceived Exertion Very Hard, 89-95% of MHR, 120% of FTP if your using wattage)
CD: 5 min easy spinning
WU: 15 min build up to 100 rpm
MS: 5 min at 100% FTP, 5 min at 70% FTP, then:
6 x 3 min 113-120% FTP with 3 min easy spinning recovery
10 min easy spinning recovery
4 x 2 min at 113-120% FTP with 3 min easy spinning recovery
CD: 10 min easy spinning recovery
Give the sessions roughly 4 weeks until you can begin to feel the difference out onto the road.
Stick with the sessions, I promise you, you will begin to feel the difference if you persevere with the discomfort at the beginning.