Five Fundamentals for Faster
Improving doesn’t have to be complicated! Do these five simple things to increase your power output, raise your threshold, lose some weight, and achieve better balance in your life.
When we say simple, we mean simple in concept. And, frankly, they aren’t too hard to do in practice, either; you just need to be mindful and commit to them.
The five fundamentals for getting faster are:
- Be Consistent yet Flexible
- Ride More
- Train All Zones
- Eat Right - Win in the Kitchen
#1 Consistency in training to me as a Coach, Sports Scientist, and Athlete is exercising 3-6 times per week, week after week, year after year. Sometimes consistency is riding for fun and other times of the year it is following a structured training plan. Sometimes riding a lot or a little and sometimes training hard or easy, but riding. No matter what, consistency is riding 3-6 times per week.
Consistency is independent of duration and intensity. So, if you ride 45 minutes one day or 3 hours another, both enable you to achieve consistency. Same for performing intervals or riding easy, either one at different times of the year achieve consistency.
The second part of consistency is being flexible with your training plan. If you can't ride due to life circumstances, that's ok, do the ride some other time in the week. Revise your plan. Flexibility enables consistency.
Now, I know what you are thinking: what about Following the F&*k'ing Plan (#FtFP)? FtFP'ing is about developing good training habits. Good training habits result in consistency. I'm adding flexibility to FtFP'ing.
Here's Why: some of the best coach-athlete successes I've ever had used flexibility. Here are two examples:
Pouring rain and cold in the forecast for Saturday's 4 hour ride but beautiful sunny for Sunday's 1.5 hour workout - switch the 4 hour ride to Sunday and the 1.5 hour to Saturday and perform with structured intervals indoors. This is a win-win from an FtFP standpoint, flexibility and most importantly consistency.
The second example is waking up and realizing you are not recovered from the previous day's training (from using Optimize). Rather than skip your workout, or stubbornly forcing your way thru what is prescribed, the flexible solution is riding easier but riding. That is the consistency part!
#2 What we mean by ride more is to really ride more than you have been. If you have been averaging 7.25 hours of riding per week, it is low-hanging fruit to improve by increasing to 8.5 or 9 hours per week. Within a few months if not weeks, you’ll be riding faster.
The easiest way to know how to ride more is by tracking your data in terms of weeks, months and years. Strava does a really nice job of this, and you can also set annual mileage or time goals.
Riding more comes in many metrics, from hours to miles, to feet climbing, and even power based metrics like TSS and OTS. We also like to use training load to graph and quantify what riding more looks like over weeks, months and years.
When you start riding more you will quickly get to the point where you don’t have time to ride more. At this point, you will have to start increasing your intensity to ride harder during the time you have. But (!) if you try to ride too hard, this approach will not be sustainable.
We invented Sweet Spot Training to help you ride more without riding too hard. Sweet Spot training gives you more bang for your buck. In other words, you are able to achieve more training during your limited training time than by riding easier.
Sweet Spot Training enables you to ride more without having to ride more hours. You are able to achieve more physiological adaptations from sweet spot training than by riding easier or harder.
#3 Speaking of Sweet Spot training, train in ALL your zones
Zone 2 :: 56 - 75% of your threshold
Zone 3 / Tempo :: 76 - 90% of your threshold
Sweet Spot :: 84 - 97% of your threshold
Zone 4 / Threshold :: 98 - 105% of your threshold
Zone 5 / VO2 :: 106 - 120% of your threshold
Zone 6 / Anaerobic :: 121 - 150% ++ of your threshold
Zone 7 / Sprints! as hard as you can for 4 - 10 seconds!
All of our training plans are zone-based and prescribed various workouts based on particular zones. Read our training zones tip here.
#4 Rest. Sound simple? It is, in concept. Train > Rest > Repeat.
Your body adapts to the training and makes you faster when you rest! Use Optimize to measure how much training you’ve done and how much recovery you’ve achieved. Optimize aggregates complex physiology data into one easy-to-understand data visualization that tells you if you need to train more or train less.
Follow a scientifically designed training plan with well-thought-out rest days and rest weeks. All of our training plans, even the advanced ones, contain rest days on Mondays and Fridays. Rest weeks follow a 3-week on, 1-week off pattern. Rest weeks contain 50-70% of your normal riding volume and also give you a chance to come up for air and balance out the rest of your life with errands, appointments and family time. That balance ensures consistency.
If your legs feel great at the end of a rest week, that means you took enough rest. If your legs don’t feel good towards the end of a rest week, that means you didn’t rest enough and keep resting!
#5 Nutrition is to your body what high-end fuel is to a race car. As an athlete you are a Ferrari, and if you owned a Ferrari you’d put the cleanest, highest octane gas in it. The same goes for your nutrition: eat the highest quality carbohydrates, lean cuts of meat (or don’t if you are plant-based) and high-quality polyunsaturated fats. Oh, and don’t forget your vegetables! Vegetables are rich in minerals, nutrients, and fiber. Try to eat three servings of vegetables each day to enhance recovery and achieve optimal body composition 🥦🥕🥗
We call this Winning in the Kitchen because 80% of weight loss occurs from the foods you choose while 20% comes from riding more.
Athletes must own what they put in their mouth, no excuses. If you are training with power, riding an expensive bike and working with a coach, you are a finely tuned Ferrari! The athletes that have the most success cook and prepare their own food. They also do their own grocery shopping because they 'win in the grocery store'. What comes home goes in your mouth and more importantly, what doesn't come home can't go in your mouth.
Adopt these five fundamentals into your routine and enjoy being faster, fitter, and probably even happier!
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