Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hour of Power and Strength

In the book Racing and Training with a Powermeter, Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen reference a workout called the “Hour of Power”. If you have not read the book, this is essentially a steady ride for one hour where you gradually ratchet up the effort/wattage steadily through the hour so you are spending most of the time around your FTP (Functional Threshold Power), finishing above this number. This is a tough workout but great for stimulating a strong response to the training and getting you ready for hard efforts during races and fast group rides.

To help build this hour speed/wattage, I have an indoor workout that mixes in strength training and bike/trainer riding to maximize your power and build more speed on the high end (anaerobic) while also increasing your FTP wattage. If you are not currently doing strength training in the gym, build into this workout over a few weeks by starting with light weights and lower reps. If you minimize your rest breaks, this will take about 60 min and get you home in time for dinner with the family. As with all strenuous activity, listen to your body and stop if you feel dizzy, nausea, etc.

10 min progressive warmup on the bike (make sure you bring the HR/effort at the end of the 10 min to your FTP level.
3x30 sec work at 8-9 effort on 10 scale, 125-150% of FTP watts, 30 sec recovery. 2 min easy spin transition before Leg Press.
Leg Press superset with squat jumps – Leg press 20 reps with enough weight that 20 is failure. This means you can do 19 or 20 but not 21. This should not be easy to do, if it is, add some weight. Immediately do a set of 10 squats exploding to a jump at the finish. Use a medicine ball or similar weigh to increase the difficulty.
2 min easy spin on the bike followed by another set of 3x30 as above. 2 min easy spin before repeating Leg Press/squat jump superset.
You guessed it, repeat the 3x30 on the bike with 2 min easy spin to get ready for the next set. Keep it up, you are past the halfway mark!
Lunges with dumbbells or on a smith machine. 10 reps on each leg with a weight that takes you to failure. (for added difficulty, bring the opposite knee up at the finish of each lunge) Superset these with stiff-legged deadlifts. Keeping your knee soft and your back flat, lift a bar or dumbbell by hinging at your hip joint. 20 reps to failure, start a bit light and focus on the hamstrings.
2 min easy spin followed by 3x1 min at your FTP with 1 min recoveries (8 on a 10 scale) with 2 min easy before repeating the lunge/deadlift superset.
One more time with the 3x1 min at FTP (this should be really tough to do now, if not, add more weight and bump the wattages a bit) followed by a 5 min cooldown with some stretching and core work to fill up the 60 min.

Do this 2X/week and I guarantee you’ll be riding faster. After just four weeks of this, I was able to increase my FTP by over 10% and drop 45 seconds off my previous Computrainer 10K test time!

Good Riding – Coach Kevin

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Static Stretching and Active Stretching

After finishing an indoor cycling class this week I noticed a rather fit looking gentleman in the club getting ready for a run on the treadmill. After lacing up his sneaks, he proceeded to do some old school runner's stretches COLD! It made my legs hurt just looking at him.
There is plenty of evidence out there showing the benefits of static stretching AFTER your muscles are warm. Stretching with cold muscles is not only potentially dangerous but has also been shown to reduce the ability of your muscles to contract (less power).
Active stretching is something that many of us do during our warmup without even thinking about it. As cyclists, we tend to start pedaling easy with a bit of a lower cadence, gradually bringing up the effort as the blood starts to flow. If you add in some out of the saddle work along with some exaggerated pedaling action, you have just accomplished some simple active stretching of the muscles you will be using. Runners simply need to add some strides, skipping, knee raises and heel kicks to actively stretch the muscles. When strength training, doing an easier set with a lighter weight will take care of the stretch, just make sure you focus on a full range of motion with your active warmup.
These active stretches will make you feel stronger, allow you to get up to speed faster and help prevent injury all at the same time. Static stretching post workout is still a must to increase flexibility, just make sure the muscles are plenty warm first.