One hour winter workout

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bahzob
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One hour winter workout

Postby bahzob » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:01 am

Since there has been some discussion about turbos/rollers and how to train during winter I thought I'd provide a practical example to go along with all the theory and write up a one hour workout which has stood me in good stead and is great from this time this time of year through to next spring (though it's handy all year round). It's especially meant for indoor training but can be adapted for short 1-2 hour rides outdoors.

It's a "sweetspot" routine that aims to maximise the work done while minimising training stress, which means it can be repeated day after day, week after week and burns up the greatest number of calories per training time spent. (1000+ kcal/hour for me). It will help maintain any fitness gained and carry it forward to next year.

It also has other benefits:

> It's easy to do, requiring no special equipment, though it's easier with a speedometer and even better if you also have a HR monitor and/or power meter.
> It's a solid hour of good effort with no breaks which is what makes it particularly well suited for turbo/rollers in a cold garage (which prompted me to start using it out in the first place). It has constant changes of pace which also helps as time passes quickly.
> It includes a graduated ramp to threshold so can be used to help monitor your threshold capability.
> It's good pacing practice for sustained hard efforts. If your goal is doing the Marmotte/Etape or similar that involves big climbs it's especially good, since it simulates the perfect effort profile for these (see below for some more on this specific topic).
> It calls for small controlled changes of effort which can be used to help work on and improve technique and also help with getting used to gauging effort for other workouts and events.
> It needs little recovery and can be done 4-6 times a week , week after week. (If this is done then there is every chance not only will fitness be retained but there is a good chance it will improve)..
> Warm-up is included so you can do it from cold. (Though I like to do 5 minutes of core work first)
> It can(should) be done just on water and doesn't need any special recovery eating. So every calorie burned helps in keeping weight under control.

The workout is as follows 15x4 minute step intervals consisting of a 40ish minute ramp followed by 20ish minute "under/over". Below is a real example (yellow is power (axis starts 150W), red HR (axis starts 100bpm) green cadence, blue velocity) Lower yellow lines are roughly where sweetspot zone starts, upper is roughly threshold.
Image
(the dips in HR on the ramp up are where I took a drink)


> Get setup and engage a gear that you think equates to threshold effort at reasonably high revs. (It doesn't matter too much if you can't do this precisely. After a few repeats you will get to know exactly what this is, which is one of the benefits of the routine.)

> Start pedalling at around 2/3 of threshold effort (just enough to make you start to feel you are working a bit and starting to get warm, around 4-5 hour steady ride pace). Ideally stay in the same gear as above but if you need to change down no problem. Revs can be low, indeed its probably good to have them around 65-70 at the start.

> Hold this pace for 4 minutes. Then increase the pace very slightly. Not by much, just the smallest amount that feels like a bit more effort. (This is the opportunity to work on technique, one way to do make the change is just focus on one part of the pedal stroke and push it a bit). If stay in same gear each increment is 1-2 rpm more, if you have a speedo then it should go up a little, if you have a power meter its around another 5-10W.

> Hold this new pace then after 4 minutes increase again as above.

> Repeat. After a couple of increments you will be warm. After 3-4 you will be at the bottom of the "sweetspot" zone and having to start breathing through your mouth. After 6-8 you will be working quite hard. After 9-10 (so 40ish minutes) you should be at just above your threshold level, the point where you switch from having to breathe very hard but controlled to starting gasping.

> Stop increasing power when you feel completing a 4 minute interval is really tough.

> Next 4 minutes after you hit top step down the effort just a bit, to around what it was 2-3 intervals previously.

> 4 minutes after that step it up, to just below your best 4 minute effort.

> Next 4 minutes step it back 2-3 levels

> Next 4 minutes step it up to best level again. This may be the last interval. You should be very well warmed up now so if you feel like it push this one hard.

> Spend a couple of minutes spinning down and finish.

Judging the pace increments for each interval so that you hit threshold after around 9-10 increments may take a bit of trial and error, but if it does that's a good thing since it's pretty important to have a good sense of where your threshold is both for training and riding.

A couple of ways to check are by continuing to do more step intervals to the point where you simply can't complete one. The interval 2-3 back is likely to be threshold. Another way to check is to try riding 20 minutes solid at the pace just before you have to stop increasing power. This should be tough but doable/repeatable.


Anyway the routine is intended to be repeated easily day after day, so its straight forward to fine tune the effort and get used to ramping up to threshold. Once you get used to it then you should be able to work pretty hard yet still feel comfortable (in the example above average power for the hour was around 90% of threshold yet the workout still felt pretty easy).

Couple of final points:

> If you have more time the workout can be extended by doing more repeats of down/up intervals at the end. Alternatively stretch the ramp up to threshold by increasing the length of time of each step interval.

> Conversely for a shorter/more intense workout shorten the length of each step interval and/or cut the time spent "under" in the second section.

> I mentioned earlier this workout is good for simulating big climbs. The ramp up to threshold is the perfect way to try to do these, starting easy then increasing effort gradually as the climb progresses so you hit the top just over your threshold effort and are ready to recover on the descent. This works especially well in group events, people will leave you at the bottom of the climb but you will easily pass them before you reach the top and you will be feeling at peak form just as they are feeling at their worst.

>> So in this workout the first ramp is what your effort should look like, just adjusted according to the length of the climb (so a one hour climb each step lasts 6 minutes)

>> Things can go wrong, in the excitement of an event you can get carried away and push things too hard too soon. If this happens you should spot you are near/past threshold from your experience of this workout. If so then the best reaction is to step back and try to do the rest of the climb as the under/over section at the end of the routine (or if really bushed, just stay at under pace).

>> For a one off climb (or the last climb of a multiple climb event if you are feeling really good on the day) the best way to it is the full routine (ramp up and under/over to finish) as it maximises your power while minimising the risk of cracking. So the example above is pretty much the perfect profile of how to do a climb like, say, Alpe 'd'Huez in an hour or so. (indeed the power in the graph above is exactly what you need to do to that climb in under an hour if you are around 70kg).

Tom Dean
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Tom Dean » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:17 am

Why would doing a long climb like this be better than even pacing?

danowat
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby danowat » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:22 am

Tom Dean wrote:Why would doing a long climb like this be better than even pacing?


Keep boredom at bay?, even pacing is seriously mind numbing on the turbo

Tom Dean
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Tom Dean » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:43 am

Fair enough, if you're going up Alpe d'Huez for training only and it's otherwise a boring thing to do! Surely in the sort of events bahzob is talking about you would be trying to go as fast as possible, while conserving some energy if it's not the last climb of the day? I don't see how riding like this would be the best way to achieve either of those.

Edit: I'm not questioning the training value of the session, but is this good TT pacing as per the last paragraph? Good luck getting up AdH in an hour if you do those first ramps at 60%.

vorsprung
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby vorsprung » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:59 pm

On the other hand, if you hate sitting on a turbo, try getting up early and going out riding into the sunrise

This sort of workout has stood me in good stead for staying in condition for trips to the pub etc etc

bobones
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby bobones » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:17 pm

vorsprung wrote:On the other hand, if you hate sitting on a turbo, try getting up early and going out riding into the sunrise

I try to do 10-20 miles most mornings during the week, but at this time of year you need to be wary of ice. I came off a couple of time last winter: once when it was raining, but black ice still starting to form and another when I was too late trying to stop before a massive frozen puddle. This winter I'll be forcing myself on to the trainer if there's any risk of ice because cracked ribs or worse will put a dent in your training plan.

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SBezza
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby SBezza » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:18 pm

Tom Dean wrote:Why would doing a long climb like this be better than even pacing?


It is just another way of doing a session, as mentioned above a bit more interesting, it does have a downside in that it might not be relevant to you cycling aims, though bazhob did mention something like the Marmotte/Etape. Probably not the best for TT training, as for a TT you get to a power/effort you can hold for that duration and generally keep it around that figure.

I personally would prefer to do a solid steady state effort, but then again I TT, and that requires a steady state effort, apart from the most hilly of courses.

You have to try and be specific the majority of the time, though there is no reason not to do a session like this.

vorsprung
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby vorsprung » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:48 pm

bobones wrote:
vorsprung wrote:On the other hand, if you hate sitting on a turbo, try getting up early and going out riding into the sunrise

I try to do 10-20 miles most mornings during the week, but at this time of year you need to be wary of ice.


I used to commute to work via lanes and managed it even during that epic period of snow a couple of years ago.

I have a Cotic Roadrat with enough clearance to fit spikey ice tyres.
Image
rat in the snow

Ice tyres are bloody heavy and draggy. But if you are training that is a positive advantage. Schwalbe Marathon Winters are the only tyre that makes a Marathon Plus seem "fast" :D

Tom Dean
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Tom Dean » Tue Nov 06, 2012 14:26 pm

SBezza wrote:It is just another way of doing a session...
That's fine, it just doesn't make sense to say it simulates a long climb.

Stueys
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Stueys » Wed Nov 07, 2012 07:56 am

Looks interesting, thanks for posting I'll give it a go. Now if you could just create in the TR editor......;-)

bahzob
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby bahzob » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:59 am

SBezza wrote:
Tom Dean wrote:Why would doing a long climb like this be better than even pacing?


It is just another way of doing a session, as mentioned above a bit more interesting, it does have a downside in that it might not be relevant to you cycling aims, though bazhob did mention something like the Marmotte/Etape. Probably not the best for TT training, as for a TT you get to a power/effort you can hold for that duration and generally keep it around that figure.

I personally would prefer to do a solid steady state effort, but then again I TT, and that requires a steady state effort, apart from the most hilly of courses.

You have to try and be specific the majority of the time, though there is no reason not to do a session like this.


Tom Dean wrote:
SBezza wrote:It is just another way of doing a session...
That's fine, it just doesn't make sense to say it simulates a long climb.


Well I use this approach when I do events and ended up top 100 fastest climbers Marmotte, top 200 Etape so it works for me.

I used to try to set a target watts and hold it. I still do in some circumstances but only for climbs I know very well. My default will be to do a negative split as per this workout. I would certainly recommend that as the default for anyone new to climbing or if doing a climb for the first time.

What matters is the average watts for the whole climb and your objective is to do that in as easy a way as possible. The target for this should be around 85%-90% of FTP which is toughish. Doing a negative split will, in most every case, feel easier than trying to hit and hold a single target watts.

This actually applies to most endurance events longer than an hour. The split is more accentuated for climbs since you often start them cold, going straight to 90% FTP will hurt which is the last thing you want when you have an hour+ ahead of you. But even for a flat TT pacing to a slight negative split will most likely result in a faster overall time than trying to stay even.

I can only suggest you try it.

bahzob
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby bahzob » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:09 pm

[quote="Tom Dean"
Edit: I'm not questioning the training value of the session, but is this good TT pacing as per the last paragraph? Good luck getting up AdH in an hour if you do those first ramps at 60%.[/quote]

That's exactly what I do and it results in a sub hour ascent. The surest way to failure, especially on climbs like AdH which start at their toughest is go too hard at the bottom and crack mid way up. If you set an easy pace at the start and just aim to increase pace every km marker you will won't go any slower and most likely will go a lot quicker.

Tom Dean
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Tom Dean » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:28 pm

I would suggest your speed compared to other sportive riders has more to do with your fitness than your pacing.

If sub hour is your target and you did it that's great. It doesn't mean your pacing was optimal though. How did your average power compare to FTP?

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SBezza
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby SBezza » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:45 pm

bahzob wrote:[ But even for a flat TT pacing to a slight negative split will most likely result in a faster overall time than trying to stay even.



That depends entirely on the course (no TT is that flat), duration of the TT and wind direction etc, it isn't quite as simple as just raising the power as you go along (though I suspect you know this all too well).

Bigpikle
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Bigpikle » Wed Nov 07, 2012 18:30 pm

its good to have a structure that keeps you focused and draws your attention away from staring at the wall (which is part of why I love the rollers over the turbo for riding at this level) but I prefer to keep the average power a little higher by using something like a 4min/2min repeat, with the 4 mins at a solid tempo effort level and the 2 mins up in the threshold zone. The exact effort/power levels can be tweaked to your plan obviously, but 4/2 seems to be a great balance where the 4 mins is not long enough to ever get bored and the 2 mins is just long enough to make you work. With no rest periods you get a good workout by the end :D
Your Past is Not Your Potential...

bahzob
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby bahzob » Thu Nov 08, 2012 09:16 am

SBezza wrote:
bahzob wrote:[ But even for a flat TT pacing to a slight negative split will most likely result in a faster overall time than trying to stay even.



That depends entirely on the course (no TT is that flat), duration of the TT and wind direction etc, it isn't quite as simple as just raising the power as you go along (though I suspect you know this all too well).[/quote

Yes ofc you have to adjust to suit circumstances. But I think it's always better to have a plan for how to ride any event and as a general rule starting with the view of going harder second half than first is a good default.

Part of the problem is that the option of doing first and second halves exactly the same isn't really viable. It's extremely difficult to achieve in practice and most often results in a second hard fade/collapse.

bahzob
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby bahzob » Thu Nov 08, 2012 09:47 am

Tom Dean wrote:I would suggest your speed compared to other sportive riders has more to do with your fitness than your pacing.

If sub hour is your target and you did it that's great. It doesn't mean your pacing was optimal though. How did your average power compare to FTP?


I would suggest that any successful result (and "fitness" for that matter) is a mix of body and head and that I am in a better place to say what works for me and why than you are.

I don't think I am that much fitter than the people I beat, just smarter. All climbs follow the same pattern, at the bottom 90% of a group will hare off and I wave them goodbye. I am totally confident that by the middle of the climb I will have passed them all as I ramp up to peak power and they start to suffer. This is another reason the approach is so good. There is nothing better to help you push on and go faster than overtaking other riders (and the converse applies. If you are hurting it just makes things worse if someone goes by whistling a happy tune.) The time you want to be able to do this is in the final hard pull to the top. Passing someone in the first mile is pointless, especially if they overtake you later.

Already said lots of times. I aim to climb at 85-90% of threshold. The example I posted is 285W which is 89% of current FTP. I do a lot of training at that intensity because I use it so much. Also its the best way to burn up calories if doing short workouts. But most importantly I really like doing workouts at this intensity in this way.

Which is the point. If I had to get onto a turbo on a cold garage, immediately pedal, no warm up, at 285W and pedal for a solid hour I may be able to do it but would feel rough and pretty bored/sick of the routine by the end. I used to do this a lot but then found that doing the workout as described I could put out the same power but the time passed far more quickly. So I applied the approach to my climbs as well and got better as a result.

Actually the workout is probably better than a steady 90% in terms of fitness. The last 20 minutes includes sections of 100%+ effort which helps push threshold a bit.

Anyway bottom line is I posted because this workout helps me and is ideally suited for training at this time of year and for doing long climbs, both of which some folks seem to have problems with. If it's not for you then fine, go ahead and do whatever you do.

Tom Dean
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Tom Dean » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:41 pm

Maybe there is some psychological benefit. I don't try to 'race' at 85% of max (for the situation, not necessarily of FTP) so I wouldn't know how to quantify the effect. It still doesn't make sense to say that this pacing feels easier for a given average power, or that you can burn more calories for the effort, given that e.g. for an hour AP=FTP would not be possible.

Fitness gains are as much about specificity as the amount of work done, I don't doubt you can get benefits from this kind of session. There may be a better way though.

p.s. you do not 'beat' anyone in a sportive :P

bahzob
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby bahzob » Thu Nov 08, 2012 18:53 pm

"I can sustain 450 watts for an hour, so obviously the first 20 minutes is not difficult. In a time trial, the first 20 minutes you're just out there, cruising along; you're trying not to go too hard, to hold back the emotion, not to get too much adrenaline from all the crowds along the way and all the British flags, to resist that urge to go that little bit harder, because that's where the danger is."

Bradley Wiggins on his tour winning TT. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Ps maybe you don't beat people in UK sportives. You do in events like the Etape and Marmotte.

pps do you actually own a power meter? If so feel free to post a real example of how you pace.

Tom Dean
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Re: One hour winter workout

Postby Tom Dean » Thu Nov 08, 2012 19:56 pm

:roll: Are you serious? Read the whole article and you will see apart form doing 600W in the first minute (!) Wiggins pacing involved going a bit harder on the uphills and a bit easier on the downs, within about 5% either way. Standard. Do you understand why this would be? It has nothing to do with what you are describing.


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