The foundations for successful riding
I've notice a lot of my regular riding buddies will some form of strength endurance training, I can definitely see the difference it has made for them.
So I started googling. http://www.endurancecorner.com/Talking_the_torque
Seems to make sense. Anyone on here with some experience on the subject care to comment on the article? It seems to mention ironman splits at the bottom, but the article reads as if it is referring to road cycling.
In my limited experience of it, I remember a well known "cycling lab" had a training program set up on their computrainers that emphasised a lot of intervals on simulated steady hills at low cadence, between 50-60rpm (obviously based around the FTP which they use to scale the intensity) with breaks between of 100-120rpm spinning, along with warmup and warm-down as you expect. This went for 1h:15min, and resembles some of what the article has mentioned.
It certainly leaves you with weak legs finishing that.
Today I did a bit of that on some hills myself. It's very foreign to me given I prefer to spin-spin-spin, but I need to do more of it. Well, there are many things I need to do - but as Xplora said below, there is limited time. And sometimes the gym work really hurts and leaves you ruined the next day.
Last edited by g-boaf on Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
It makes sense but I think you've got to be clever about it. Strength workouts are very very hard on the body (they have to, to create the positive adaptions) compared to endurance or tempo paced riding, and you have to consider whether or not you need the strength - is it a weak point? If you're a big guy at 100kgs you probably don't need to train strength like me at 71kgs. You carry around 50% more weight for 16 hours a day than me. For me to have equal strength I've got to hit the gym and eat multiple cows a year. I don't have the time or funds to develop the power of a 100kg rider, so I focus on improving my aerobic and anaerobic riding to hopefully circumvent the 100kg rider's natural horsepower advantage.
If you have time and funds to get the basic training of long hours on the bike done and need something more, doing some extra workouts will be helpful as long as you can recover properly before your next training. This could be yoga, barbells, massage, running - they will all help. But would you skip a 100km ride to go to the gym?
Triathletes seem to have different expectations to most cyclists though. No hills, 54-55 chainrings, major focus on running... a cyclist is much more focussed on sprinting and bike handling and climbing, so you can't afford to burn significant time on "strength" which writes you off for 2 days if you only have 5-6 hours to ride in a week, when you have to sprint at the crit tomorrow. The tri guy is grinding out his kms and if he's sore, no big deal because he's just trying to push threshold efforts anyway
I thought through this a while back and came down on Alex Simmons' side of the fence. Breadth of training is good, but you have to focus on the most pressing thing to improve it. I won't get faster cadence by skipping rope.
Strength endurance is an oxymoron.
Low cadence higher torque efforts are good for helping you do low cadence higher torque efforts. Which is great if you expect to need to do low cadence higher torque efforts. The rest of humanity can just choose appropriate gearing and do hills repeats.
Just reading an article by Paul Rogers, strength and conditioning coach of our National sprinters (Im sure you've read it). He uses the term "strength endurance".
"For strength endurance on the bike, ride up hills in the saddle on bigger gears. That was the only strength work our Team Pursuit did for the last 3 years and they won everything there was to win with a bucket load of world records to boot. Incidentally they are the fastest starters"
Whats your take on the article Alex?
My thoughts are already well documented. I haven't re-read the item. but in summary:
- it's not strength, so it's a misnomer that's misusing the term
- the adaptations are primarily metabolic and the fact that they did hill work in a low gear just means they did some hard training
- don't confuse correlation with causation
- from a coaching POV, it's mostly a (possibly unintentional) ruse to make riders do hard or sustained hill repeats. the gearing really isn't all that relevant
DD, you are on the money with definitions - can't really debate the topic without a frame of reference. My take on the OP's article was slow grind power like 80rpm with a 55 up front, hence the triathlete stuff. As opposed to the sprint training.
I got dropped bad today after doing four solid sets of z6/7 to finish the bunch ride on Saturday. I had Zero snap in the legs. Power data wasn't really bad. But I couldn't cope with the big field. I think that's the hardest part of all this talk... You want to sprint, then train to sprint. You will be shagged for FTP work, but FTP is not going to help your sprint. And you might be stuffing up your milestones by doing it at the wrong time.
Biggest take home from the second article was that muscle development just isn't a concern for non sprinters. Definitely need more big ring efforts though.
I've used it and had good results. I've watched world champs use it but what would they know.... I also think strength is the wrong term. I have no evidence but feel there is some neuromuscular gains from this form of training. Try it you have nothing to loose except a bit of time and yes you will loose speed but you can train that too.
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Alex, is the 'ride up a steep hill in a specific gear' training session just a hangover from pre-power meter days?
I.e. If you ride a avg 10% grade in a tall gear, you are going to be forced to stomp a reasonable effort out or you won't get to the top. Whereas it's a lot easier to slack off in lower gears if you don't have a power meter slapping you in the face.
Pretty much, although it's hard to ride "easy" in any gear on a 10% grade
There is a neuromuscular difference, one only has to inspect the torque v cadence plot from a power meter file from riding a hill in different ways to see the extent of that, but the primary adaptations are still metabolic rather than neuromuscular (the forces are still very low for any sensible amount of neuromuscular benefit for the time invested - for that you are far better off doing other sort of efforts that actually do tax your neuromuscular abilities).
IOW it's just hard hills or hill repeats using a trick to keep you honest effort wise. Nothing wrong with that, whatever helps people to train hard and keep focussed / motivated is a good thing. But it's a very big stretch to assign a performance causation to the fact they are done in a big(ger) gear than one might normally choose.
And yes I'd prefer it if the word strength was not used to describe these sorts of efforts, as it confuses people into thinking it causes a type of adaptation that it doesn't. Just call them hill repeats, or hill intervals, or hill efforts, or hill climbing because that's what they are.
Yeah just as I thought. Thanks for that Alex - always enjoy your insights.
One hour at 60 rpm = 3600 revolutions. In what other sport would a coach prescribe 3600 reps?. I quit strength endurance training about a year ago and I'm now slightly faster at any distance over about 25 km. Maybe trackies are different - I don't know much about track racing.
Nobody younger than <del>27</del> 28 has experienced a month cooler than the 20th century average.
Indeed. Even a 5-min effort at 50rpm = 250 reps per leg.
I've never seen a strength training plan suggest you do 250 reps per leg of gym weights in a matter of minutes.
IOW - it ain't a strength workout, it's a hill climbing workout that develops endurance / aerobic capacity.
I've just reintroduced low cadence hill repeats into my midweek routine, 3x5min on a Thursday. (Tuesday is 4x3min and 2x2min 105% THR and is usually at 100-115rpm). They are acutely uncomfortable!
It is my view that the lower cadence efforts require - and allow - more mental concentration and focus on form and appropriate muscle recruitment, which has helped with my core and lower back stability, which are an ongoing issue for me, being an office worker.
If I just do the hill efforts only at the most comfortable cadence, my form starts to deteriorate.
Being a mountain biker, being able to deliver power across a wide range cadences is more important than on the road due to the variable terrain.
They hurt though... which is why I've only started back on them in this build block.
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The details of the study are available from the link. Very interesting. I am not sure if their training protocol would be useful for anyone, to be honest. Seems that they focused on heart rate as the target for the intervals, rather than power. The hill reps I've done recently are 60-90 seconds max, and 45 seconds rolling down. Short pinches. I get the impression that keeping your HR to tempo pace at 40rpm doesn't really allow you the opportunity to cause adaptions.
If anything, it shows that a good solid tempo session on the trainer will help you a lot, regardless of how fit you are.
I will keep doing my hill repeats but I'll keep in mind that staying aerobic probably isn't going to help build strength!!!
Sure, I was just posting something relatively new on the topic for interest, although the study you posted was assessing impacts of different forms of sprint training, not what most refer to as "SE" training.
True. Here is another study, more specific to the topic
One of the pioneers of this method was prof Polyschuk (spelling could be different in some sources) from Kiev. Unlike others, he worked with real, high level cyclists (world stage level) for several years. I was part of that work so I guess I know that methodology first hand and seen the results of it. Yet, I believe success cannot and should not be tied to this methodology or that. Our bodies are extremely complex and it would be a mistake to hang on to one approach exclusively. Which is why most studies don't prove anything. Including the ones I linked to.
Very true Nikolai hence why I have never believed one mold fits all, you need to taylor training to the person not the group.
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Indeed. And the one I linked before isn't much chop for comparative performance either.
It would have been more instructive had the comparisons made one change in the experimental group rather than combining two (e.g. either adding of higher intensity intervals, or low cadence but not both), or if there were three groups, where a high intensity interval group used self selected cadence at the same work rate as the low cadence group. And it would have been more useful had far better information on actual workloads of riders been reported.
As it stands, it's not possible to draw a conclusion with respect to the cadence/gear used, and the most probable conclusion one can draw is that performance can be improved through the use of high intensity interval training. Which is something we already knew.
But as I've said, if people find such efforts work for them, great. But they are not a silver bullet.
The design of any study can be improved of course. Will it solve some inherent (or at least they seem inherent to me) problems though?
For example, in a typical two group split--one group doing 'something' while the control group just riding their bikes--the psychological factors of performance are always ignored. When findings are evaluated and x% improvement in performance is found in the group that did 'something', the conclusion is made that that 'something' caused the improvement. How do we know that? Isn't it true that the participants, before the study even started, or they even knew about it, believed that doing 'something' causes performance improvement as opposed to just riding a bike? In other words, isn't this type of study a self-fulfilled prophesy?
Then too, what is the meaning of x% improvement? Let's say x=10 so that doing 'something' caused (or so is concluded) a 10% improvement in performance. When the study is closely examined, it shows no one actually improved by 10%. Some participants improved by 12%, some by 6%, some stayed where there were and others went backwards. So what does 10% mean? More importantly, what does it mean to me either as a rider or as a coach? What should I expect my percentage will be? Will I stay the same or go backwards? There's no answer.
Worse, the control group, after 6, 8, 12 weeks or whatever the duration was, does not stay the same either. Their results fluctuate in all directions just as well. So is just riding a bike good, bad or makes no difference to your performance? And so on it goes without end.
Which is why Polyschuk (btw, he's referenced in that 2nd link I gave above, I didn't see that at first) did not do a 12 week or whatever study. He approached certain people, convinced them of his view and the program went ahead with one particular team backed up by the government, the military and a university (it went ahead in 82). Obviously, you can't split a real, professional team into two parts, let one group do whatever while the other does the program and then evaluate in 2 years' time. The only way to do it was to make everyone do one thing hoping it will work. So it's not just the intervals and data evaluation, it's an entire approach that must be tested.
Which brings me to this--in a typical study, recovery, just like psychology, is also ignored. And that is a fatal mistake. The adaptations we're looking for do not happen on the bike; they happen off the bike, when we rest. If this part of the 'program' is messed up or not controlled, the study, in my opinion, is pointless.
Was the Polyschuk's program successful? I don't know. The team was. Multiple world champions came out of it. Some went on to leave their mark in Grand Tours and the Classics later on but can the success be linked to the program? I'm not sure. In other words, could the same results, or even better ones, have been achieved by doing something else? Well, there were people all around doing different things, sometimes radically different, who were successful just as well.
Good study design that not only remove various forms of bias, as well as enables one to look beyond correlation and to causation, takes much care, and I agree many such studies we see fail in many respects.
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