Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bike Training in the Off-season: Strength and VO2max

I've never been a strong cyclist (relative to other female professional triathletes). I have swum competitively since the age of 11, I have run since I was 7 years old (as a soccer player, then on school cross-country teams and then as a triathlete), but I didn't own a bike before the age of 19. I never even liked to ride a bike! It wasn't until 2008 that I actually started training on the bike. Then, in 2009, I started riding indoors in the winter and in the summer to compliment my outdoor riding. I saw a HUGE jump in my cycling fitness that year and, since then, I have been able to make small gains every year (thanks to WattsUp cycling and computrainer). However, I've never been quite satisfied with my progress. My highest FTP has never been higher than 205W (3.8W/kg). My best normalized power for the bike portion of a half-ironman is 192W (187W average power) or 3.45W/kg. While these numbers are strong, they lag behind other Pro females, who have an FTP of 4.0W/kg and are at or above 3.8W/kg for the half distance.

This year, Adam and I decided to do something a bit different with my bike training. We decided to place a huge emphasis on training me to be able to recruit my glutes while riding. Adam did a lot of research this summer on glute recruitment and how to specifically train these muscles - which is now heavily emphasized in the WattsUp program. My "butt training" started with me riding in running shoes or with my bare feet on top of my bike shoes (to isolate the glutes during the "push down on the pedal stroke"), a lot of glute activation work (bird-dogs, side-band walks, glute bridge, etc.). This training progressed to lots of hills and slow strength work in December and some short VO2max sets. Without doing much VO2max work at all, I had a personal best 5min TT in December of 259W in aero position - that's about 4.9W/kg. Then, I went on to do a 20K TT at The X3 Lab, where I held 218W avg power for ~36minutes (~4W/kg). My previous best 20min TT from last year wasn't much higher than that. Currently, I'm doing a lot of work with short intervals at 240W to 300W. That makes 205W feel super easy!

In addition to on the bike work, I have included strength training. I have a glute activation routine that I complete 3-4 times/week before hard bike workouts. I also have a strength routine which I complete twice per week. Currently, my strength routine involves forward and reverse lunges with light weight, single leg deadlifts with light weight, single leg angled leg press with heavy weight and straight leg deadlifts with heavy weight.

As I move toward race season (my first race is June 11th) I will progress my 240W+ intervals to 2, 5, 10(?!) minutes. I will combine these workouts with FTP, tempo and endurance rides and continue strength training. The hope is to FINALLY hold 200W NP for a half-distance race!

Test Sets 2016 to 2017:

5min TT - Dec 23rd: 259W avg P (5min)

20K TT - Dec 30th: 218W avg P (36min)

5 minute TT - Feb 3rd
20 minute TT - March 24th
20 minute TT - May 4th
Half-ironman - June 11th, Sept 18th (Barrelman!)
Long course (56km) - June 25th (Welland) and Aug 6 (K-town)

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