First, I think we should start by disassociating "structured" and "purposeful" training. These should not be equated to mean the same thing. A structured program these days typically refers to some adapation of Arthur Lydiard's training principles of periodization and modulation of training intensities (i.e., base miles + intervals). But let's say you don't do a periodized training program, and you don't do intervals. Is your training then no longer "purposeful?" Perhaps, but not necessarily so. You could establish a highly effective non-periodized training with zero intervals and achieve great success, and this would be just as "purposeful" as a "structured" program. Lydiard-based training has a purpose for each period and each workout. Likewise, in a non-structured program, you could also have a similar purpose for each ride.RocketRacing wrote: ↑Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:56 pmVery interesting.
Can you comment on the physiology/training theory of the beginner? The fit individual that maybe wants to get fast (ruling out overweight types that may require a different focus).
Can you also discuss more on the topic and physiology of peaking. Lets think short term first. Say preparing for an event.
Now what about peaking as an individual? I mean reaching your max potential. I suspect that this is where small improvements become hard to obtain, and require focused training since we are really pushing our physiology beyond the 95% intended. The caveman was never designed to run away from sebertooth tigers in such a manner, so it takes a tight balance to maintain, or improve upon such performance.
My armchair logic would be that early on, for a fit beginner, there are lots of low hanging fruit gains. But as you get stronger, and closer to your maximum potential physiology, structured/purposeful training becomes more important.
Let's take a casual cyclist who rides 6 days a week. His 6 days are the same 365 days of the year:
Day 1 - 90 minutes at 60-70% of maxHR (purpose is aerobic conditioning and ST muscle fiber development and fat efficiency)
Day 2 - 90 minutes at 60-70% of maxHR (purpose is aerobic conditioning and ST muscle fiber development and fat efficiency)
Day 3 - 45 minutes at 85% of maxHR with 15 minutes easy before and after (purpose is aerobic conditioning, FT muscle fiber development, glycogen efficiency and lacate threshold efficiency)
Day 4 - 120 minutes at 60-70% of maxHR (purpose is aerobic conditioning and ST muscle fiber development and fat efficiency)
Day 5 - 60 minutes at 60-70% of maxHR (purpose is aerobic conditioning and ST muscle fiber development and fat efficiency, but shorter to get some recovery)
Day 6 - 2-5 repetitions on a 2km or so hill at 85-95% of maxHR with 30 minutes easy before and after (purpose is aerobic conditioning, FT muscle fiber development, glycogen efficiency and lacate threshold efficiency)
*side note: before anyone says, "oh but he's not increasing his distances he'll plateau", note that the rides above are expressed in terms of "time in zone." So 90 minutes at 60% of MaxHr may be performed at 25km/hr (excuse my math) on Day 1, but on Day 365, 90 minutes at 60% of MaxHr may be performed at 30km/hr, so you are effectively going faster and covering more mileage for the same time, so you are actually doing more work which is what we care about.
The above cyclist spent maybe 8 hours or so riding in a week. I guarantee most recreational cyclists will improve dramatically over the course of 5 years if they maintained something similar to the above schedule consistently. Would they have been better off in a "structured" program? Maybe very marginally so. In fact, maybe not at all. Maybe they would be worse off.
And just so we are clear on terminology, "peaking" can have two meanings - one, peaking during a season and two, achieving lifetime peak.
"Peaking" for an event is pretty simple and well understood. For a short period building up to a target event, you overload your body with high intensity workouts which result in unsustainable gains in muscular strength, Vo2max and lactate threshold. You basically overload a bunch of stimulus, but in effect "delay" the adapation process by maintaining a high intensity of exercise during this short period. Once you begin the "tapering" process and dramatically pull back on the volume and intensity of training, your body begins a very rapid process of adaptation and recovery and rapid refuelling of your body. You get a temporary boost in performance and this is how you time a "peak" to coincide with your target event. But after this peak, since you had tapered, you end up at a state of lower fitness than if you had simply maintained a more consistent effort level. A prime example of this is Lance Armstrong, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas who train consistently for the Tour de France, as opposed to guys like Alaphillipe, Pinot, etc. who are trying to peak multiple times to be competitive both in the spring and in the Tour de France. Which works better?
A lifetime peak is usually achieved at the point where your body lacks the ability to respond any further to an ever-increasing work load. In other words, the point at which your body either breaks down and becomes injured or simply stops responding to additional training. Some source material below:
It takes years of consistent training to get anywhere close to this point. In my very anecdotal experience, I would say very very few recreational athletes who have adopted a structured training program are anywhere near their natural peak ability. On the other hand, for competitive athletes who have been training seriously since they were teenagers and are now in the early to mid 20s, they are all very close to their peak and we struggle mightily to get them to improve even 1% over the course of an entire year of hard training.
Depending on your genetic profile, there is a limit to how much we can increase your lung capacity and oxygen uptake, your heart's stroke volume, your max HR, the literal number of muscle fibers (although we can play around with the proportion of fast/slow somewhat), your overall Vo2Max, height and bone structure, the strength of your joints and connective tissue, etc. It takes quite some time to hit these limits and just because you hit the limit for one doens't mean you can't improve on other areas. Like if you are no longer developing your muscle fibers, you could continue to improve by increasing the number of capillaries and mitochondria in your legs. And once that is capped out, you can continue to improve by maybe losing some weight. Once that is capped out, maybe you can improve your lactate threshold. I keep repeating this, but it takes years and years of consistent training to hit your natural limits. Most recreational athletes are no where near their natural limits.