Training to Win the Colorado State Criterium Championship

Isaiah Newkirk

We all secretly crave the ability to say “I am the best in the state”, but how do you train for such a specific race like the state criterium championships?

Yes VO2 work is needed and you can do the classic workouts to get you part way there, but for our CO State Criterium Championship Training Plan we are going to go one step further and do exact race replication efforts. To do this you take an old race file and pull it apart effort by effort, from there you create a workout that replicates the most common efforts of the race.

For 2017, the Colorado State Criterium Championship is being held on the downtown Longmont course, a six corner decently open course. Due to the nature of the six corner course there is pretty much a guarantee of six efforts a lap and those efforts vary based off of position and how active you are. We wont touch on tactics in this tip because I’ve already written a tip on how to learn criterium tactics (includes video, so have a look!).

Here is a file from 2015 where you can clearly see the pattern of efforts per lap.

Broken down the efforts end up being:

5 seconds at 180% of FTP followed by 8 seconds rest

5 seconds at 175% of FTP followed by 10 seconds rest

5 seconds at 180% of FTP followed by 8 seconds rest

13 seconds at 170% of FTP followed by 13 seconds rest

15 seconds at 165% of FTP followed by 5 seconds rest

3 seconds at 175% of FTP followed by 10 seconds rest

This is obviously a pretty hard workout and for this particular race file the athlete did 1 hour ten minutes of racing, or 60+laps. Instead of attempting to replicate this and destroying yourself in the process we are going to do a build that’s focused on your tolerance of high intensity, with the end goal of being able to do one third of the race in a workout. Accomplishing this will be more than enough to get you ready for race day.

For the build we will start with doing the set twice, giving the body 5 minutes to recover, and then do it again for a total of 4 sets. Each set is 46 seconds of Vo2 and all above 160% of threshold so these should hurt, but over the course of the 6 week plan your body will get stronger and better able to handle the intensity.

Here is the workout built out in TrainingPeaks

This training plan will take you through the full build in detail and get you ready to smash the Crit Champs on July 9th. Also included are Tabatas, 1 minute and 2 minute efforts, sprint workouts, and of course some longer CTL builder rides on the weekend. Give us 6 weeks with this plan and be sure to get ready to put on that state champ jersey!

Copyright 2017 , FasCat Coaching

 

Isaiah is a FasCat Coach and Category 1 racer out of Boulder, CO. Buy his Colorado State Criterium Training Plan here.  To talk with Isaiah about how else to ramp up your criterium racing game please fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire or call 720.406.7444 to set up a Coaching Consultation.

Comments

Muscle Tension Interval Power Data

Muscle Tension Intervals

Isaiah Newkirk
by Isaiah Newkirk, October 2016

Cyclists can pair Muscle Tension Intervals with weight training for cycling for an even better physiological adaptation.

As we leave the 2016 season behind, do you feel that your biggest weakness was not having enough strength? This is something I often hear from athletes. Many think: “I need to spend more time in the gym”, however that’s not always the answer, as this challenge can be targeted on and off the bike.

The key is being able to apply any built strength directly to the pedals, and the solution is to pair a gym program with an exercise on the bike that builds sustainable strength, all while keeping you aerobic. This exercise is commonly referred to as Muscle Tension work.

MTI’s or Muscle Tension Intervals are high torque intervals that are best performed either up a steady 2 – 4% grade hill or an indoor trainer. This is to keep the interval controlled and uninterrupted while maintaining a low high torqued cadence. Start with a short duration, let’s say five minutes; shift into a large gear that requires decent work to turn over and gets your cadence in a range of 40-60 RPM’s. Don’t worry about power, but don’t push this effort too hard as the idea here is to keep the body aerobic and focused in on the very targeted muscular action especially your glutes. During the effort, stay seated while focusing on pushing with your quads and pulling with your hamstrings, engaging the glutes with a goal of applying torque to 360 degrees of the pedal stroke. You will find that the dramatized effort forces you to focus on all parts of the stroke and will make weaknesses (or dead spots) pretty obvious.

After you have mastered a few five minute efforts (2×5) you want to slowly bump up the duration of the intervals. A good multi week progression would look like this:

Week 1: 3 x 7 minutes ON 3.5 minutes OFF

Week 2: 3 x 10 minutes ON 5 minutes OFF

Week 3: 4 x 8 minutes ON 4 minutes OFF

Week 4: 5 x 9 minutes ON 4.5 minutes OFF

Week 5: 4 x 10 minutes ON 5 minutes OFF

Muscle Tension Intervals are a staple in our $49 10 Week Resistance Training Program

Continue to build till you are holding 20 minutes steady and strong. During the off season you should be able to do this twice a week without putting too much stress on the body or need too much recovery time.

Textbook Example of a Muscle Tension Interval Performed Correctly

The Sport Science:

MTI’s such as these will help you target the glutes, which is crucial as cyclists tend to be quadricep and hamstring dominant. With the use of technology in EMG (electromyography) which is where electrodes are placed on the skin and can track muscle activity through electrical signals, we are able to track how well intervals such as MTI’s target particular muscles.  Through the use of EMG’s during the study “Muscular activity during ergometer cycling” Ericson (1986) discovered that hip extensors provided 27% of total provided work. As this is a sizable percent, it gives us the understanding of how focusing in on these hip extensors (which glutes are a large part of) is more than worthwhile.

Another study that also implemented EMG’s to test the use of particular muscles, was “Muscular Activity during uphill cycling: effect of slope, posture, hand grip position and constrained bicycle lateral sways” Bertucci (2006). This study found that on an incline and when comparing seated vs standing muscle activity, that the glutes are much more active when standing. Which means that by focusing and then strengthening the glutes you will be increasing endurance and strength while standing, which is often vital in key moments during races.

Finally to to best engage the and recruit the glutes, strive to perform your MTi’s up a 2 – 4 % steady grade hill.  Research has shown (Sarabon et. al) a reduction in EMG activity (firing of the glutes) for MTi’s performed up too steep grades.

Paired with weight training, MTI’s help the body stabilize strength into pure power transfer to the bike, which ultimately allows you to capitalize on strength gains you make in the gym. While shown to work through use of EMG’s and other such technology, MTI’s should be used carefully especially if you have a past history with knee injuries.

Ericson, M.O., Bratt, å., Nisell, R. et al. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. (1986) 55: 229.

Duc S, Bertucci W, Pernin JN, Grappe F.  “Muscular activity during uphill cycling: effect of slope, posture, hand grip position and constrained bicycle lateral sways.” J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2008 Feb;18(1):116-27.

Sarabon N, Fonda B, Markovic G. “Change of muscle activation patterns in uphill cycling of varying slope.” Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jul;112(7):2615-23.

Try the Muscle Tension Intervals described above in a $29 Fall Foundation Training Plan

Copyright 2016 , FasCat Coaching

Sign Up for More Tips

Isaiah is a FasCat Coach and Category 1 racer out of Boulder, CO.  To talk with Isaiah about your Muscle Tension Intervals please fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire or call 720.406.7444 to set up a Coaching Consultation.

Comments

Video Tactics of a Crit

Teaching Criterium Tactics Using On Board Cameras

by Isaiah Newkirk, July 2016

In cycling, it’s not always the strongest person that wins; it’s the smartest. Conserving energy, exploiting your opponents weaknesses, reading the competition in front of you, and using the race course to your advantage are all things that are required to get to win. In bike racing, we call this “Race Smarts,” and it comes easier to some than others. But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. With on board cameras becoming more widespread, race tactics doesn’t have to be such a grey area. Now what would normally take years to master can be focused on, and result in winning races.

Here are two examples of athletes that attended local races with an on-board camera (in this situation a VIRB camera) and the feedback we were able to give based on its contents. As you watch these short clips, see if you can spot anything that may help your own racing.

Tour of Nevada: Jeremy Stitt, FTP= 325 watts; Threshold Heart Rate = 177 bpm
Overall Takeaways from this race:

This was overall a solid performance where Jeremy mixed it up and played his cards for the win. To get closer to the win, I recommended a 3 ways to improve:
First, find a groove within the course and get to the front quickly. This will help save energy and be in the right moves early. Staging and pre-riding the course will help with this.

Second, Make sure you are doing your best to tuck in and save energy when you can.

Finally, Commit during your attacks, check behind you for followers, and if you don’t let the situation sit up and try again later. Maximizing your efforts, conserving your energy, and playing those around you is crucial.  Jeremy got 21st in this crit but since then has improved his criterium tactics and won the Truman Cup July 25th, 2016!

Tuesday Night Training Crit: David Gray, FTP = 307 watts, Threshold Heart Rate = 170 bpm
Overall Takeaways from this race:

The biggest takeaway from this race is to simply always ask questions during a race. Why is that rider doing that? If I attack here would I be wasting energy, what am I to gain? Am I pulling the field around with me? How do I save energy here? These questions will save you a lot of effort and likely put you ahead of your competitors. This was a Tuesday night training crit for Dave who has gone from middle of the pack to getting into breakaways and contesting sprint finishes. Way to go Dave!

As a coach, teaching an athlete how to read a race can be just as important as building up their motor. Teaching techniques were limited to x & Y since it’s rare for a coach to be able to race alongside their athlete for the entirety of a race. Two years ago, I had a different idea. An athlete of mine who lived 850 miles away would affix his new Go-Pro to his bike during the race. We established a DropBox link for him to share the race files, and during our next consultation, we’d walk through the race move by move. We spotted bad habits, places he was wasting energy, paces he was conserving, and even the moment when he lost the race.  Thru the use of an on board camera eventually we could even spot his race winning move(s).

Since then, multiple other FasCat athletes have signed on to On-Board Camera Tactic Analysis. We combine the video with standard metrics (Power, Heart Rate, Speed & Cadence) from their TrainingPeaks account, giving the coach an almost complete understanding of how the race played out the moment the file is uploaded.

Sign Up for More Tips

Coach Isaiah Newkirk is an Associate Coach with FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO.  To learn more about bike racing tactics and how Isaiah can teach you,  please call 720.406.7444 or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.

Comments