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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:08 pm 
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Formerly known as wassertreter

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I am on a bit of a limited-time training plan, but generally try to incorporate a mix of various "standard" workouts (10x2min, 3x3min, 4x5min, 3x15min, 2x20min, 1x50min, with some monthly progression from shorter to longer during the build-up) and one long-ish ride per week. My goals are pretty much just wanting to challenge my own PBs at a number of hillclimb events, where the duration is between a bit under 15min and around 1:30h. Maybe also one or two longer sportives with a good deal of climbing.

Even though I'm hitting the shorter workouts pretty much all-out, 10-15min after the last repetition I sometimes wonder if I should have been doing another one, because recovery kicks in quickly.

So my question is, how do people feel about some "draining of the tank", with short all-out bursts, somewhere in the range of 10-30s, like 15min of easy riding after the actual workout? If that's worth considering, could you recommend protocols?

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Posted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:08 pm 


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:10 pm 
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Taylor Phinney's coach recently recommended a short Tabata style workout, something like 15secx15sec in multiple sets. I've been doing 30x30 @ 150%FTPx60% for a couple weeks, they are draining, and great if you're time pressed, you can get wiped in an hour or an 1.5. Some discussion of this over on wattage as well.

I think they're a good supplement, but wouldn't make them the keystone of a plan, obviously.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:54 pm 
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My choice is tabata, 20 seconds on full blast, 10 seconds off x 8 (so for 4 min) with about 5 minutes inbetween 2 sets. Obv warm up and cool down on either end, in warm up I'll do 4-5 min at LT with some quick spins to get legs firing.

edit- good article I found on it...
http://britishcyclesport.com/2013/train ... intervals/


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:39 pm 
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Interesting to see Tabata mentioned. I moved to longer intervals (~5min) with 2-3min break in the early buildup (now) after reading that they worked better than shorter 2-3min intervals. My rough idea was to start with 5min, then work up to 7, 10, 15, 20min, 30min, 40min, reducing the number of repetitions. (All durations approximated because I only ride outside, but usually I can find good terrain to link up, or do loops.) Once my main workout is in the 3-4x 15-20min interval range I want to add another line of workouts with shorter repetitions, so 10x2min or so, then move to all-out 3x3mins for top-end conditioning before the events. Still a rather crude plan at this point.

As mentioned, my biggest goals are a ~40min and a ~1:30h hillclimb, with some shorter ones too. (Yes my season starts late, I'd like to peak for June-July.)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:23 am 
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Is Phinney also targeting local hill climbs? I thought he would ve aiming for stage wins and the classics :-) building a serious threshold should be a good thing for these hill climbs if they aren't really short? Also losing weight will reap some benefit.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:36 am 
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This is very vast topic. Your main aim for 90min events should be to have the best FTP possible and you should develop this aspect of your fitness using a variety of efforts durations, intensity and frequency.

Maybe alternate some block or focussed work. Depending on you events date, you could mix a lot of work.

- high power 3-10min efforts
- long rides, low intensity
- 15-20min efforts near FTP
- Include longer efforts close to your events for specificity


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:34 pm 
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Many different answers to this question. First, let's look at why "drain the tank" is useful. You're trying to improve your peak performance and if you train at 70%, you'll not be as effective at training your performance at 100%. Now this needs to be power output, not just riding until you drop, but you want to be doing hard workouts on a programmed schedule -- not every day, but on a rotation with other workouts (see below) -- because they will train your body to adapt at the limit of its current performance. And that is what training is really about -- extending your limits.

What to be careful of? First, let's say you do a 100% effort and achieve a personal best. Let's say you even rest til your heart is back down and you've had a chance to recover your phosphate levels in your blood. Then the next one you can only do at 85% of that. Well, you aren't training to extend your limits any longer, and that second effort is just tearing you down (because your next effort will likely only be at 75%) and still isn't training you at your limit. It always comes back to the unpleasant, painful fact that the best training is what extends your limits, and to do that you have to train at your limits.

Your body will actually respond quite quickly with improvements if you can train at the limit. Many people who train endlessly and don't find improvement are often training at 80% and just never teaching their body to work at new levels. The Australian national track coaches have always had a policy with their athletes -- you get out on the track and you go for max. If you set a personal best, you stop and go home. No more efforts. Both physiologically and psychologically, it's the strongest approach to take. Additionally, if you get out on the track and you do well under your previous level, you also go home. Whatever the reason is, you aren't going to be training in a productive manner that day and anything you do will be counterproductive.

These are of course approaches focused on power efforts and to some extent on anaerobic efforts. When it comes to aerobic efficiency or to anaerobic tolerance, you can ride at, say, 85% and train your body to extended and tolerable output at higher levels. For a time trialist that kind of training can support your ability to ride at a higher level for an extended period of time (and bear in mind that your body may be capable of considerably more, but your mind can only handle so much pain, so this is psychological training as much as physiological for all but the most incredibly gifted). Efforts like Tabatas are one way to push this kind of training, but note that you have to do them at 85%, not 100%. After a series of 85% repeat intervals, you will still be tanked, but if you do your first at 100%, then your next is at 85%, your next at 75%, etc., you aren't doing them right. Your body is rather dumb and adapts for exactly what it is experiencing, and that last workout isn't training it for continuous high-level output.

You said hill climbs. If you want the power and want to be able to work at the limit of your tolerance in respiratory and muscle pain, workouts like Tabatas may not be as useful. Instead, you may want to do power curves, where you start at 80% and ramp yourself up to 100% until you completely die. Your body should be able to subsist for quite a while at 80%, but here you're taking yourself right to the limit and riding until you are completely spent. Then stop, fall onto a crash pad, throw up, and when you're feeling better, take a bath and a nap and rest. No more workouts. The trick on that effort is to make the ramp at the right slope -- too fast and you kill yourself pretty fast, too slow and you're going to tire your muscles so that your 100% effort isn't at the same high mark. Just be sure if you are watching power that you keep increasing until you quit. Lots of loud music really helps. Indoors, a strong fan helps. And seriously, get a crash pad for bouldering and spread it next to your bike. When you finish, you can just fall over onto it, curl up, and die. You don't want to try to sit on your bike after this effort. Spinning your legs down sounds nice in practice but if you've really done 100%, your legs won't turn any longer. This is what you see when a rider pulls his absolutely max to a major hilltop finish and then just freezes up on the bike and has to be caught by a soigneur before he crashes and carried by two team staffers to his bus. Unfortunately, most people train hill climbs at a sustaining level and become pretty fit, but don't actually adapt their bodies to climb faster. If you do a workout like this (and it's really only one workout in a day -- good for those of us who have to work and lead a life as well as train) once a week, you should see a progression in power. If your progression dips, you need to rest. You want each new effort to be at least some margin better than the previous one. Same rule as for the Aussie track riders -- if you do better, you stop, go home, and rest. If you can't get close to your previous level, your body needs rest or you are otherwise distracted or handicapped, so stop, go home, and rest.

Everyone has different ideas about how to train, of course. But this is an easily quantifiable approach. It doesn't take a lot of time and can be done very nicely on a trainer indoors. In particular it's tailor-made for something like a Wahoo Kickr or at least a resistance trainer plus a power meter. And it works well for self-coaching because you have simple goals and don't need extensive physiological testing. Like every other recommendation on training, iyou have to find what works for you. I've just found that with riders trying to do what you say you are seeking, this approach addresses both physiological and psychological limits (especially the latter, since that's usually the one most of us run into first) and increases your performance. And that's worth all of $0.02.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:34 pm 
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http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/2 ... times&_r=3

Interesting summary of recent research into short interval work.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:43 pm 
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Everyone, thanks a lot for the good info.

devinci, heh, those four workouts (varied with progression from month to month) is pretty much the backbone of my weekly schedule. But I seem to recover quickly after the "high power 3-10min efforts", much better than after the "near FTP" ones. So I've been wondering whether to add some sort of sprints after a, say 10-15min rest.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:24 pm 
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not sure I understand your logic with the sprints...

Structuring your training in blocks of similar quality would bring some diversity to your training stimulus and push adaptations further.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:49 pm 
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wassertreter wrote:
Everyone, thanks a lot for the good info.

devinci, heh, those four workouts (varied with progression from month to month) is pretty much the backbone of my weekly schedule. But I seem to recover quickly after the "high power 3-10min efforts", much better than after the "near FTP" ones. So I've been wondering whether to add some sort of sprints after a, say 10-15min rest.


If you're recovering that fast you aren't working at the right power levels.

The research cited in the NYTimes article above suffers from the same faults as many such studies. If athletically fit individuals are tested, but not serious (and successful) athletes, they have no idea what their actual max performance levels are. At the beginning of the study, they end an FTP or other workout long before they are really at the right level. As a result, some simply get used to the workout levels after training and can achieve a better result simply because they've learned to do it or because their modicum of training in the study is enough to improve their psychological performance.

Additionally, the non-genetically-gifted citizen who may be moderately fit but just gets on a bike or a treadmill in a test is also subject to stress responses that limit his actual performance. If you know you're going to be tested, your heart rate, vasoconstrictors, adrenalin, etc. are all already elevated. If I, who am not genetically gifted, get on an ergometer, my heart rate is already up 20 bpm before I've started to do anything and my stress levels mean that my max heart rate is about 10 bpm lower than I can achieve on a hard workout on my own. I can train myself not to respond like this, but it's typically of most cyclists (including top athletes) first thing in the season or when on a new team, in a new environment, whatever.

Also, as pointed out above, the power curve you assume is unique to you. When these studies test riders, they apply a standard curve and it often is a shallow ramp that exhausts a rider before he gets to his true maximal output.

Basically, these studies generally intimate at the correct answer but usually don't validate it because the experimental protocols are either botched to begin with or simply aren't tailored to individual performance.


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Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:49 pm 


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:28 pm 
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11.4, good points, thanks again. The thing is, I have been doing intervals up to 3min, and 10+min in the past, but never anything in between. Maybe I need to get used to the workout format a bit better, so I can "dig deeper". Also, after a quite intense 8 month running stint I'm in a quite strong -- albeit unspecifc to cycling -- shape. Probably needs some more time to translate to pedalling, too.

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