WATTS UP! Bike Workouts for your 'A' Race

author : jtriathlete
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So you are approaching your A race for the season, and you want to have that personal best day, especially on the bike where you can make up the most time. Here are four key workouts for improvement.

So you are approaching your A race for the season, and you want to have that personal best day, especially on the bike where you can make up the most time. Let's see what we can do about that!

But first, let's assume that this is a Sprint or Olympic distance race, or solo 20k-40k TT distance.  Let's also assume that your fitness is pretty good and you have been riding and training pretty well for some time, and through the winter. You always warm up into your workout at a minimum of 10minutes, before hitting real hard efforts. You stay relaxed even in hard efforts, hydrate well throughout, and have fun.

If this describes you, here are four key workouts - and in no particular order of importance.  These workouts can give you the edge you need to improve your bike before your A race.

Bike Workout #1 - 1 Hour Group Ride Over/Under

Plan a group ride with a friend or two that is just as fast as you - even slightly faster. This workout can be done with only one hour to spare. Head out the door and warm up building within your warm-up into a comfortable steady pace. Once you're all ready to roll into the workout, build up effort in a single file, hit the hard effort with each person taking a one minute pull in the front. It's a bit of an over/under workout.

While making your pull up front you will want to go pretty darn fast and hard.  Perceived effort will be 7-8 and doable, but fast, and later stages of the workout the perceived effort will climb into 9/10, and power 100%+ of FTP (race pace and slightly faster). Around the one minute mark your partner will pull through. Hopefully you dont have to completely stop pedaling but can let up on the intensity a little to allow your partner to pull through and this will allow you to sit in just under threshold. With a strong partner it might take a small hard effort to get on their wheel and catch a draft, lasting 2-5 seconds.  You can catch a draft as far back as several feet if you're uncomfortable with drafting, however you will want to draft to finish this workout with quality.

Repeat this process of rotating riders, from 10-12-15 minutes at a time. You can do 2-3 sets of this workout. Your normalized power might be slightly less than a solo effort, but its more fun and you will have likely spent a lot of time above threshold from pulling, along with the micro efforts to catch a draft. Your recovery is usually zone 3 while drafting. So you can see a quality workout will be definitely be had.

Bike Workout #2 - Strava Improvement

My other favorite workout could be considered a Strava workout. Find a nice steady hill, preferably one you can do on the TT bike so make sure it's not too steep. Riding at or near +/- 100% threshold uphill for 12-20 minute segments. Try to beat previous performances on these efforts, either through speed, or power. If you don't have a hill, you can simulate such workouts by pedaling in one gear harder than your normal TT effort on the flats. Riding around the mid 70’s while keeping power at or near threshold will make you very strong. Work on smooth strong pedal strokes.

Bike Workout #3 - 1.5 Hour Sprint Starts

This workout is another key session I find very valuable. It's important to get up to speed quickly without wasting a lot of effort so this must be trained. This is useful for the start of races, and accelerating out of corners, but also simply training above threshold too. Your workout is to do 3x30sec, 3x1minute, and 3x3min pretty much all out. This can be from a standing start or while you're already cruising (I recommend doing from both). The key here is FULL Recovery. I believe I am taking this workout from Chris Boardman, or the likes of some one hour world record holders. These full on efforts are followed by 5-8minute recovery rides in between each effort and longer for the three minute efforts. This workout will last about 1.5 hours.

HR will not be applicable. Pain is temporary. Threshold power? Way hard - just keep going!

Your legs will feel like jello. What will this do? By increasing VO2 max power, this will bring your threshold up to higher levels over time as well.

Bike Workout #4.  Combinations

These workouts will combine your workouts with endurance rides. Let's assume you can’t possibly do all these workouts in one week due to multisport training, or other constraints. You can always do workout number #2 with some climbing or sections of harder gear muscular work into your long rides. If you do not have a training partner you can simply do extended periods of zone 4 work  with workout #1, preferably on your way home, so you learn to be progressive in the intensity of your workouts, working from easier at the start and finishing stronger and faster at the end of your ride.  Workout #3 can be applied on long rides too by using them at all stop lights, stop signs or any intersection or sprint spots along the route. When you start a ride, have an intention of which workout you intend to do. But rotating through these over a week to two weeks, you will engage all energy systems from muscular endurance, to VO2, and from threshold work. There are other variations but the key is to work different systems throughout a cycle of training.

Have fun and be safe

Jim Hallberg
D3 Mulitsport coach.
USAT level I
USAC level II

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date: July 31, 2015

jtriathlete

Some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach I believe you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses, but together we’ll build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

avatarjtriathlete

Some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach I believe you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses, but together we’ll build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

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