Monday, November 23, 2015

How WattsUp Cycling Works: The Beginner to the Elite Athlete can Benefit

I have been coached by WattsUp Cycling since 2009. I started at WattsUp for one main reason: to improve my bike fitness. In triathlons I was nearly the fastest swimmer and runner in my age group, but my bike splits were much slower in comparison. And I was used to being the slowest cyclist on group rides. This changed drastically once I started following the WattsUp program. The program got my cycling to the level where I could compete and podium as a Professional Triathlete. And I no longer get dropped on group rides!

You may be thinking, "how can a program suitable for a Pro triathlete be suitable for me?" Well, having experienced the program for 6 years, let me tell you:

1. Everyone who follows the program has their own Zones to train with. WattsUp uses the following zones:

The power numbers that correspond to your zones can be determined by a standard performance test. Either a Lactate Test and/or a Time Trial. Each individual has their own power numbers and heart rate range corresponding to each zone. Here are three Zone Card comparisons (showing power):

So, Samantha could be riding at a power of 135W, while Kirby could be riding at a power of 175W, and Ben would be at 215W, and they would all be in Zone 3.

As an athlete gets stronger, their power at each Zone goes up. The program measures your performance every 6-8 weeks with time trials and test sets. My 60MP (60 minute power, also known as lactate threshold) increased by 20% from starting the program to my peak fitness. My 20 minute time trial improved by 40W. I've seen beginner athletes improve their lactate threshold by over 30W in 4 months and show a similar improvement in their time trials. Having a program personalized to each person's physiology works!

2. Everyone trains according to their own natural cadence. Similar to having a set of individualized zones, each athlete has a defined cadence that they find most comfortable. This respects the fact that some athletes prefer lower cadences while others prefer higher cadences. Thus, the WattsUp workouts are individualized to one's preferred cadence.

3. Frequency by which you do the workouts. A major difference between the beginner and advanced cyclist/triathlete in the WattsUp Cycling program are the frequency with which they are doing the workouts. As a Pro triathlete, I do 2-3 Quality Rides, 1 Base ride and 1 Recovery Ride per week. I recover faster than a beginner would. The beginner will notice improvements in their riding with 1-2 rides per week (Quality or Base), an intermediate cyclist will notice improvements in their riding with 2-4 rides per week. So, the number of workouts you choose to do per week is personalized, based on your abilities.

4. Progression of the program is science-backed. It is a year long program, suitable to get you ready for outdoor riding come May. It works through a few major phases of training. A few of the phases of training athletes will go through:

Strength/Neuromuscular: This forms the backbone of your training. It develops the pathway your brain uses to communicate with your muscles and strengthens those muscles. This helps prevent injury and decreases the effort required to push a big gear. (Think about weight lifting at the gym and how lifting the same weight gets easier over time).

VO2max and Anaerobic Power: This is similar to High Intensity Training (HIT), done on the bike. Very basically, by doing work at the highest possible power you can hold, it makes the easier power feel a lot easier. (Think about how lifting a 5kg weight feels after lifting a 45kg weight).

Threshold and Tempo Training: This is where the program focuses on getting the athlete comfortable "where it hurts." By training at this level of discomfort, you become more tolerant of this effort (both physiologically and mentally).

Summer Training: The program at WattsUp is designed to compliment your outdoor riding in the summer. Every athlete will be training for something different, an Ironman or a Sprint triathlon or Centurion or a Criterium. In the summer, you will do most of your specific training outside. And the WattsUp program recognizes this, so the program touches on all aspects of training (Strength, Intensity, Threshold, etc.) to compliment your specific training.

5. Cycling is fun! Whether you are a beginner or advanced cyclist you are likely in the sport, because it is enjoyable for one reason or another. Whether it's the social aspect, the training aspect, the racing or the fact that it means you can eat more chocolate. The WattsUp Cycling program is a great way to experience the time you spend on the bike!

In summary, you can see how the program can cater to everyone from the beginner to the advanced athlete. And how WattsUp is where "people become athletes and athletes become champions".

Come try a complimentary first class, or see a sample workout of the HomeCycling version of the program!

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