January 2016 - BICYCLING & TRIATHLON
By Andy Ruiz
Maximizing Your Indoor Cycling Workout
Despite the peculiar start of winter, the New Year is upon us, and with that comes the anticipation of the 2016 cycling season! Whether you are a competitive cyclist, triathlete or weekend warrior, the time to start your preparation begins now.
While many competitive cyclists will brave the elements throughout the winter months and continue to ride outdoors as conditions allow, indoor training will be the reality for all cyclists recurrently this time of year. Keeping contact with the bike two to three times a week, at bare minimum, is the key to feeling good come spring. Whether taking an indoor cycling class at your local gym, turning the pedals on the trainer in your basement, or participating in a spinning class put on by your local bicycle shop or club, the importance lies in the workout that you do that will bring improvements to your cycling performance when you hit the road or trail.
For years, the belief that large volume – that is, long, low to moderate intensity rides – was the way to boost aerobic, cardiovascular base. Though valuable to incorporate into a training plan for two to three weeks duration throughout the year, this traditional, endurance base-training model is not always practical or achievable for amateur racers and cycling enthusiasts due to time-constraints. Moreover, many athletes have the perception that reaching the point of exhaustion – sufferfests – or riding hours and hours on the trainer are the way to go. While there is a time and place for both, the resistance of the trainer and subsequent continuous pedaling by the rider allows for shorter, interval-based workouts combined with recovery to build the aerobic system in less time.
Though it is tempting to throw in one of the many indoor cycling DVDs or attend a spinning class at your local health club or gym, many of these are tailored to the masses, and consequently, are not specific to improving cycling output. Though aerobic endurance is important, it is not necessarily the thing that allows you to endure your ride, competitive or recreational. Rather, it is your ability to sustain high intensity efforts under stress and maximum oxygen intake capacity that determine your performance. Thus, workouts that target the energy systems and power demands of actual cycling, like speed intervals, cadence drills, tempo or climbing bursts, and ladder intervals will be to your benefit.
Whether using a power-based system, heart rate zones, rate of perceived exertion (RPE, scale 1-10) or a combination, adherence to a structured, scientifically-based program that uses your own, individualized training ranges and intensities, and progresses with your developing fitness will produce the most results. Power and heart rate can be assessed by performing a functional threshold power (FTP) test and functional threshold heart rate (FTHR) testing. Athletes are encouraged to read the book, Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan (2010).
Here are some sample workouts:
Tempo Intervals – 10-15-minute warm-up. 3x5 minutes at 76-90% of FTP or 84-94% of FTHR (RPE 5-6) with 3-4 minute recovery (easy pedaling) between sets. As fitness improves, incorporate more sets or increase interval duration. 10-15 minute cool down. Hint: during tempo workouts, you should be able to complete a sentence.
Cadence Drills – 10-15-minute warm-up. 6x2 minutes, 1 minute ‘on’ at 105 rpms at 90% of FTP or 85% of FTHR (RPE 6-7), 1 minute ‘off’ at 85 rpm’s at 56% of FTP or 69% of FTHR (RPE 3-4). 5 minutes easy pedaling. 5x30 seconds at 140% of FTP or 95% of maximum effort at 100 rpms with 1 minute recovery between sets. 5 minutes easy pedaling. 5x1 minute at 105 rpms at 130% of FTP or 105% of FTHR with 1 minute recovery between sets. 10-15 minute cool down.
Lactate Threshold Intervals – Note: athletes should complete minimum of 4 weeks of workouts prior. 10-15 minute warm-up. 2x10 minutes at 83-93% of FTP or 90-98% of FTHR (RPE 7) with 5 minutes recovery between sets (as fitness improves, increase to 3x10 minutes). 10-15 minute cool down.
It is no surprise that many athletes struggle when cycling indoors. Most indoor resistance trainers do not simulate outdoor riding or provide smart-technology and virtual training options. Statements like “I hate the trainer,” “I can’t ride indoors.” and “Ride the trainer? You’re crazy!” are all too common. Adherence to a structured and diverse, performance-driven regime helps to pass the time, along with company and entertainment. In addition to equipment requirements of your bicycle, resistance trainer (or rollers) and fan, indoor training essentials may also include music, television and training partners.
Like the group ride, indoor spinning classes are what bring many cyclists together in the ‘off-season.’ For example, the membership clubs of Capital Bicycle Racing Club, Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club, Bethlehem Tri Club, and Helping Riders Realize Talent have joined forces to host a Thursday evening spin class at Academy of the Holy Names in Albany for the months of January and February from 6-8pm. HRRT is holding spinning classes at the Niskayuna Community Center on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-7:30pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:15-6:45am.
Tomhannock Bicycles in Pittstown hosts spin classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6pm, Saturdays at 8am, and Sundays at 9am. T3 Coaching spin classes are open to all at Grey Ghost Bicycles in Glens Falls on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7pm for 60 or 90 minutes. Elevate Cycles in Halfmoon has spin classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm, Saturdays at 7am, and Sundays at 9am. Competitive cyclist, Zack Vogel, offers classes at the Saratoga Regional YMCA in Wilton on Tuesday nights at 6 and 7pm. Of course, indoor cycling classes are also commonly offered at your local YMCA branch, health club, gym or spin studio.
The winter can be long and many are confined to riding indoors through April. Balancing your winter training with other activities, like strength sessions, core work, and other cross-training options such as Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and running will help break the monotony and help to manage the winter blues.
Andy Ruiz (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Ruiz Racing is a USAC certified cycling coach, specializing in power. He’s been a competitive cyclist at the national and regional level for 30 years, and has also competed in running, duathlon and adventure races. In addition to coaching cyclists and triathletes, Andy has been the director of an elite women’s cycling team, and currently serves as vice president of CBRC. Andy will be the instructor at Academy of the Holy Names spin classes.