Case Study

Time-Crunched Athlete

 

How did a time-crunched athlete increase FTP from 145 to 225 Watt FTP on 3-5 hours a week over the winter?

Here’s How…

Athlete – 56-year-old male with no history of bike racing. Started cycling to stay fit and enjoy cycle holidays with friends. This year’s goal is a 4 day cycling holiday in the Alps with long days and lots of climbing!

Having had a break of over 4 months prior to starting with me in November, we were starting from a place with no chronic training load.

Where did we Start?

FTP was at 145 (1.68 W/kg), but with no chronic training load, we started with just getting on the bike regularly. We started with 2 x 45-60 minute sessions per week on the turbo; very simple aerobic sessions, all in Z1 (3-zone model). However, he actually only managed 1 x 1-hour session per week for the first 4 weeks.

After a week’s holiday with no training in late November we got going with the 2 sessions a week for a few weeks, then quickly moved to 3 x 1-hour sessions per week.

I would have wanted to test pre-Christmas, but because of the stop-start training…I left it until January.

Testing

With Christmas out of the way and a good 6-7 weeks of consistent training under our belts, it was time to do some testing. I used a Metabolic profile test as I was keen to know how slow the slow rides needed to be. My suspicion was, it was well below LT1, which had been the limit until now.

1st Test Results

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Really happy with the results from the increase in threshold. Some good consistent training had worked well to regain the fitness of previous years. However, my feeling that slow needed to be slower was right. FatMax was really low. This is a big issue for long repeated days in the Alps. 

The issue with this is that he will be burning carbs like mad. It’s hard/impossible to eat that much, so each day you will be very depleted…and each day a little more as you can’t recover in between, there’s only so much glycogen you can replenish.

If the goal is repeated long days in the mountains this is a weakness that needs to be addressed.

 

 

Phase 2 – What Next?

The consistency was really paying off, getting on the bike 3-4 times a week, every week from mid-January to the next test at the end of Feb (See typical week on the right).

In this block, we basically had 2 types of ride. It was either REALLY, REALLY easy 100-110 Watts. These were done twice a week, one of which was fasted.

The other ride type was at Sweet Spot and low cadence. Gradually building from 30 minutes of Sweet Spot, up to 50-minutes by the end of the block.

Good training often isn’t sexy. All the top coaches and physiologists say this. They are often almost apologetic about how simple it is!! But it’s not magic…it’s consistency/volume and intensity discipline that are the true drivers of endurance performance.

This period was 2 easy rides, 2 sweet spot rides and was 4-4:30 hours per week…so very manageable.

 

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Typical Week of training

 

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Typical Easy Session

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Typical Sweet Spot Session

 

 

 

 

Next Test

On the right, you can see the results of the test at the end of February. It was a consistent block that led up to this test with an adaptation week leading into this test, setting the zones for the next block.

We knew there was going to be a big shift as recent rides the HR in intervals and the RPE was getting much lower and sessions were just getting easy.

 

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What’s Changed?

Big increase in threshold power again, which is great. But more importantly, you can see that the VLAmax has come down nicely and the FatMax has increased significantly. This means the easy riding can be done at a much higher intensity, but still making sure we aren’t depending on those carbs. This will be a massive benefit for the trip to the mountains.

So…What Next??

We still have time for 3 more blocks of training before he heads to France, so we have chance to improve some more.

While the weather is still a bit grim we will be going for a VO2max block, which hopefully can be backed up by a volume push when weather and light is better and more outside riding can push that volume up.

 

Summary

This is obviously a great result for this rider. His dedication, consistency and intensity discipline have been rewarded. It shows that training targeted at an individual’s needs can get results when there is a tough time restriction on the volume of training.

With consistent training of 3-4 hours per week over the winter a massive 80 Watt improvement in FTP was possible (1.68 W/kg up to 2.64 W/kg). More than that, with the metabolic testing you can see the increase in fat burning, which will be vital if repeated long days in the saddle are required.

If you’d like to know how we can help you achieve your cycling goals, get in touch coach@summitcyclecoaching.co.uk

Case Study – Time Crunched Athlete

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