Friday, February 24, 2017

Favorite Winter Workouts

Favorite Winter Workouts
By PCG Elite Coach Christian Sheridan

The winter workouts I give to my athletes fall into two broad categories - pushing functional threshold power (FTP) up from below through tempo and sweet spot rides, and pedaling efficiency drills.

Tempo and Sweet Spot

The intensity of the FTP building workouts ranges from 76-88% FTP for tempo rides, and 88-95% for sweet spot rides.  To determine the duration of the intervals, I use the time to exhaustion (TTE) metric available in WKO4, which measures the maximum time a rider’s FTP can be maintained.  Because we’re pushing FTP from below, we want to exceed TTE.  A typical tempo workout on the trainer might be:

WU: 10-15’ with 3x1’ fast pedaling efforts.

MS: Ride at 76-88% of FTP for a time equivalent to 175-200% TTE.  If you struggle to ride the trainer for that extended period of time, you can break up the effort up by standing up every 3’ for 15-20” but be sure to keep power above 76% even when you sit back down.

CD: 10’ easy spinning.

Outdoors, you would want to keep the tempo duration the same, but to make the workout even more effective, ride at an endurance intensity (56-76% FTP) for up to an hour first.  Doing the tempo work with some fatigue already in your legs will help make the training stimulus even more potent.  Of course, depending on your time constraints and tolerance for riding the trainer, you could do the entire workout indoors.  However, I tend to see about a 90’ limit for indoor rides among my athletes.

Sweet spot rides raise the intensity, and are generally done after doing a block at Tempo.  Start with riding a time equivalent to TTE and add time every few rides until you can do 150% TTE.  A typical workout might be:

WU: 10-15’ with 3x1’ fast pedaling efforts.

MS: Ride at 88-95% of FTP for a time equivalent to 120% TTE.

CD: 10’ easy spinning.

One last variation on the pushing FTP up from below theme deserves mentioning, and that is the sweet spot criss-cross workout.  For this variant, you ride towards the lower end of the sweet spot range (88-91%) for a time equivalent to 110-120% TTE, but every 3’, you push the wattage up to 120% FTP for 30”, and then recover back to 88-91%.  This workout simulates the less regular pacing of mass-start racing and forces your body to recover from a suprathreshold effort at a relatively high intensity.

Cadence and efficiency drills

I have two go-to workouts for increasing pedaling efficiency.  The first is spin ups.  After a good warm up, I have my athletes shift to their small ring and 3rd easiest cog in the back (say 39x19) and spin for 15” at their maximum comfortable cadence.  After 15”, shift to one easier gear and try to raise cadence; after another 15” shift one gear easier and try to raise cadence again.  Shift back down to your starting gear and spin easy for 4-5’.  Repeat that process at least 5 times.

The second efficiency drill is 1’ high-cadence spins, preferably on rollers.  This workout is as simple as it gets - in a very easy gear, spin as fast as you can for 1’ while still riding “quiet” - no bouncing, no chain slap, no vibrations from the band linking the rollers.  Recover 2-3’ and repeat 8-10 times.

Finally, if I have an athlete who has a dual-sided power meter, and we note a serious imbalance between legs, I will prescribe one-legged pedaling drills.  Starting with 30” one-legged, with 1’ spinning both legs before switching sides, and progressing until the athlete can spin at least 1’ on each side equally.  To get the most from this workout, it helps to have a box at about the same height as your pedal at bottom dead center to rest the non-working leg on.

Those are some of my favorite workouts for athletes stuck indoors this winter.  Adding these into your routine will both help push your FTP to new heights, as well as help you make even more efficient use of all that new-found power.

Learn more about Christian SheridanPCG Elite Coach from Charlottesville, VA.