Indoor Cycling

How to Make Indoor Cycling more Fun and Productive

Here are 5 training tips from Coach Jake Rytlewski to make indoor cycling more fun and productive:
  1. Set up a dedicated indoor trainer space with a fan!
  2. Select fun, diverse and short workouts with variable power outputs
  3. Be Consistent: 1 hour a day 3-5 times per week and the tortoise beats the hare everytime!
  4. Use technology to enhance your indoor riding experience (Zwift and Smart Trainers are a huge leap forward for indoor cycling enjoyment)
  5. Analyze your Data

Buy our 6 Week Indoor Training Plan described in this training tip!

The holidays are quickly approaching and the dark days of daylight savings are upon us. Your preparation for the 2018 cycling season should be starting soon. After breaking out a few hard hours from now through the holidays, you’ll need to come up a with a real plan for success. Indoor training is about as frustrating as hearing Christmas music every day for two months straight!

Luckily…indoor training has never been easier.

As for myself, I’ve been racing for over 15 years and as recently as a couple of years ago I had only a few options for indoor training. Would I ride rollers or a trainer? Was it a mag or fluid trainer? Was I going stare at the wall and listen to music, watch a movie or watch the 2001 TdF for the 17th time? In 2017, the options seem never-ending with smart trainers, power meters and the newest craze: virtual training. Yeah, I remember the old days when you actually had to load up your indoor training gear to ride with someone at their house!

Even with all the new fancy toys you still need a well-structured plan. The plan you build now is the start of reaching your targets and goals in 2018. All this new technology just makes the time fly by as opposed to watching those last few seconds tick by on the microwave.

Here are 5 Tips to make your indoor training a success!

#1 Set up space where you can ride. Ideally you will be able to keep your trainer setup and all the other essentials right there in hand. That way you do not have to spend precious time and motivation just trying to set things up. You want it to be comfortable, with the temperature somewhere around 68* F. Also, make sure you have a fan! I’m not talking about a personal cheering section, although that might help! Instead, find a fan that will cool you off and reduce the sweat dripping off your forehead. I also highly recommend having a towel and plenty of water! Your body runs hotter indoors and will go through more water so it is important that you stay hydrated. Be sure to drape your bike with a towel to protect it from sweat – I’ve seen a lot of corroded out stem caps over the years!

#2 Keep the workouts fun, diverse and short! You want to be excited, well as much as possible, about your workout! As boring as riding indoors can be, repeating the same workout for the 4th time can only make things worse. Don’t just sit on the trainer in zone 2, make the most of your time. Add the intensity in, mix it up to achieve 60 – 80 TSS in an hour times as opposed to stretching it out to 1.5 – 2 hours. Last time I checked you do well in races at specific power outputs greater than zone 2. Unless you are less than 6 weeks away from a goal race there is no reason to spend much more time than that.

Here is a one hour workout with variable power that helps one hour go by quickly:

#3 Be consistent! That goes along with not spending more than 90 minutes on the trainer. Riding 4 – 5 days a week goes a lot further than doing 3 days really hard and being burnt out on the trainer. Winter can be a long season. Some can still be stuck on the trainer until April! You don’t want to be crushing it on the trainer in December and January and then be burnt out on it come March when the racing season is starting. It’s sort of like making the early break in a 100-mile road race, it looks great while it’s happening but come crunch time only a small percentage actually make it. Early in the winter season look to add in strength sessions and do some core work as opposed to just another day on the trainer. These are workouts you should add to your training year round.

#4 Use the new technology that is available in your training. There are multiple types of trainers, rollers, smart trainers and now virtual training. See which one works best for you! Hire a coach and they can build a plan around the resources you have available. Or buy a plan with TrainingPeaks structured workout export feature like the one in #2 above.  Export that to your smart trainer and poof, all you have to do is pedal which the structured workout controls your trainer.  All our plans have a new variable power workout everyday to help break the monotony. 1 hour and the structure helps prepare you specifically for the power demands you’ll face outside.

#5 Make sure you are uploading and analyzing your workouts. Analyze if you are hitting your zones and getting the proper workload. You want to make sure you are making progress and improving. You can take that a step further and see if your CTL (Chronic Training Load) is rising and also keep an eye on your TSB (Training Stress Balance) for fatigue levels. Even though the hours may be short you still need to have those rest days and weeks.  To set up your Performance Manager Chart and track your CTL/ATL/TSB read our training tip here.

Here are 4 Example 1 hour Indoor Workouts:

  1. Sweet Spot Bursts: 4 x 8 minutes.  Ride in the Sweet Spot and during each 8 minute interval ‘burst’ for 5 seconds at 200% of your FTP every 2 minutes.

  1. Tempo/Zone 5 VO2 Criss Cross: 3 x 10 minutes. Ride Sweet Spot and alternate between sustained sweet spot and VO2 power for the 10 minute interval.

  1. Zone 4/5 Bursts: Watch a football game a make a Zone 4/5 burst during the plays.  Rest in-between and during the commercials
  2. Zwift: 4 laps total and ride in your Sweet Spot for laps 2 and 4

The possibilities are really endless! For example, you can change up the intensity and number of laps on Zwift, or even join one of the many group rides or virtual races! As mentioned above use the new workout export feature in TrainingPeaks to send all the structured variable power workouts from your training calendar directly to your SmartTrainer.  So all you have to do is pedal!

Set yourself up for success! Make sure you have everything you need for your trainer session to make it as fun, comfortable and effective as possible! Indoor training does not need to be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell, yet it can just be another stroll in the park doing what you love! Get out there, or rather on it in there, and ride!

Copyright 2017, FasCat Coaching

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Jake is an Associate Coach for FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO.  He is a former professional road racer and current full-time professional USA cycling and TrainingPeaks certified coach.  Look for him on Strava and join him on the Zwift Island of Watopia for a great indoor group ride.  To talk with Jake about your indoor training and coaching, please call 720.406.7444 or fill our a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.

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The Effect of Racing at Altitude

by Jake Rytlewski, Associate FasCat Coach

Throughout the summer, the western United States plays hosts some of cycling’s hardest races and events. The Leadville 100, FireCracker 50,  Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the now-defunct USA Pro Challenge, and the newly created Haute Route all come to mind.

These races are all decided by the rider’s ability to maintain high outputs for over 30 minutes at high altitude. To put it into perspective, the high point in the Tour De France is frequently between 7,000 and 9,000 feet, whereas the Leadville 100 never goes below 10,000 feet!

Needless to say – if you’re racing at elevations above 8,000-9,000 feet, you had better understand how to modify your race strategy.

The Effect of Racing at Altitude

As you gain altitude there is a reduced amount of pO2 (partial oxygen pressure) meaning that there is less oxygen for your blood to carry to your muscles. The USA Pro Challenge takes place mostly above 7,000 ft and at that altitude, the body will take in at least 25 percent less oxygen per breath because of the reduced amount of pO2 in the air when compared to sea level. With less oxygen available to deliver to the muscles, riders will see a decrease in performance when compared to lower altitudes.

The effects to your body when racing at altitude are higher heart rate and lower power output. Since you are getting less oxygen to your muscles your body increases its heart rate to help bring in more oxygen which means you reach your max output quicker. This leads to a lower Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and also makes it harder to recover from maximal efforts.

Acclimating

In preparation for these events, many racers have arrived in Utah and Colorado well in advance to help acclimate to the altitude. Since there is less oxygen being delivered to the muscles the body will produce more red blood cells which deliver the oxygen to the muscles. By spending this extra time at altitude the racers will have more red blood cells and become more acclimated which will lead to a lower drop-off rate in power at higher altitudes.

Many riders will take this approach when preparing for any race. They will have specific altitude training camps. By spending more time at higher altitudes they can increase their red blood cells, allowing them to make longer and harder sustainable efforts at lower altitudes. But they will only want to stay up for three to four weeks. Any longer than that and they will begin to lose muscle from riding at the lower power outputs. There are other methods as well such as training low sleeping high and training high sleeping low.

Want to make riding at altitude easier this year? Check out our Haute Route Colorado 6-week Plan!

Available Aerobic Power

These equations from Bassett et al.1 were generated from four groups of highly trained or elite runners, so they are population-specific to that group, but they can be used to estimate aerobic power at a given altitude as a percentage y of what is normally available at sea level, where x = elevation above sea level in km:

for acclimatized athletes (several weeks at altitude): y = -1.12×2 – 1.90x + 99.9 (R2 = 0.973)

non-acclimatized athletes (1-7 days at altitude): y = 0.178×3 – 1.43×2 – 4.07x + 100 (R2 = 0.974)

Whereas Peronnet et al.2 found

y = -0.003×3 + 0.0081×2 – 0.0381x + 1

Here is a table derived from these equations:

Applying to the Race

Racers competing at altitude will no doubt feel the effects of racing at altitude whether they are acclimatized or not.  All power numbers will be reduced across the board because altitude throws out every number they have used all year. They now have to readjust their FTP, pacing strategies and be careful not to attack too often or dig too deep to stay with riders surging on the climbs. With the reduced amount of oxygen being delivered to the muscles, it becomes harder to catch your breath and recover.  Honestly, feel becomes as important if not more so than watts.

For example, take an athlete who at sea level has a 380-watt Functional Threshold Power. If they want to use their power meter to set a pace for the Vail TT they could be looking at trying to average only 335 watts. This is taking in a drop of their FTP by 16 percent because of the altitude while being able to race at 105 percent since the effort will only last around 25 minutes. Another example is when they are climbing up the 11,000 foot Monarch Pass they may be riding full gas at 310 watts because of the altitude.

Altitude creates yet another variable in the already complex world of bike racing. The reduction in available oxygen creates a series of physiological issues. While riders can do some work to prepare for racing in thin air, much of it comes down to proper pacing and knowing the limits.

  1. Bassett, D.R. Jr., C.R. Kyle, L. Passfield, J.P. Broker, and E.R. Burke. Comparing cycling world hour records, 1967-1996: modeling with empirical data. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 31:1665-76, 1999.
  2. Peronnet, F., G. Thibault, and D.L. Cousineau. A theoretical analysis of the effect of altitude on running performance. Journal of Applied Physiology 70(1):399-404, 1991.

Copyright 2017, FasCat Coaching

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Coach Jake is an Associate Coach with FasCat Coaching, a boutique brand coaching company  in Boulder, CO. Jake and his fellow FasCat Coaches have been training at altitude since 2003. To talk with Jake or another FasCat Coach about your race at altitude, call 720.406.7444, or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire for a free coaching consultation.  Additionally check out our $49 six week training plans here.

Building Your Annual Training Plan

Success for Tomorrow Starts Today: 

Building an ATP (Annual Training Plan) to lay out a plan for the next season’s success.

For the road and mountain bike racer now can be the perfect time to start thinking of next season. You along with your coach can design an annual training plan detailing out next season’s goals by working backwards from your “A” number one race (or time frame). Your annual training plan details out every aspect of the plan, including races, training phases, power tests, recovery weeks and a cycling specific resistance training program.

Yes you may still have some racing coming up and maybe even a target event, but soon you will be coming into fall and will want to have a plan in place. You can use TrainingPeaks ATP to help plan out your year to reach your next season’s goal.

Reasons for designing the plan at the end of the season:
  • Season is fresh in your mind
  • Can manage offseason breaks and holidays
  • Undergo a weight loss plan
  • Plan for Cycling Specific Resistance Training
Fresh in Your Mind

With the season fresh in your mind you will be able to know what has worked, what hasn’t and have a good understanding of a training schedule that works with your life’s schedule. Look back on this year’s training and look for trends. We use your Performance Manager Chart to track your CTL to TSB with peak power performances.  

This example shows the numerous peak power numbers in the spring. First during the build up from the winter and then again after this athlete took a vacation. Later on in the year he didn’t hit as many peak numbers. From this we can take that he should plan an early summer break and build back up for the mid to late summer. This will give him another solid rest period which gives him the freshness he needs to be at his best. We can put that in his ATP.

The other thing you may want to consider is where you live and the winter you experience. Maybe it will be more beneficial for you to do intensity early on the trainer as those can be short and intense and than do a longer base period as the spring approaches and the weather is nicer.

Manage Offseason Breaks and Holidays

By designing your annual training plan now, you are going to be able to manage your offseason breaks better. Can you take off 1 – 3 weeks, can you manage to fit in multiple breaks, how do the holidays fit in? After a long racing season the last thing an athlete will want to do is train more, however this maybe a good approach, especially for those in northern climates who are about to face a winter on the trainer. So we can plan a short season ending break, plan a fall foundation program while riding weather is still nice and then plan a longer offseason break as the weather turns and daylight is cut way down. By doing this you can get a jump start on your next season. You can keep your CTL up a bit so you don’t have to scramble to get so much come January when it’s snowing. Plus it’s a great time to focus on strength, skills, your pedaling and maybe even a weakness.

Weight Loss Plan

Weight loss: nearly all of us will benefit. There is a good time for this and a bad time to lose weight. You do not want to be cutting weight off as you are training hard and need the calories for recovery. Look to do this during the fall, or early in the base season. If this is one of your goals set target weights in your ATP track your progress and manage your weight.  We can help! Read more about losing weight using MyFitnessPal under our guidance.

Cycling Specific Resistance Training Program

Most athletes always want to start coaching in January when racing can be only weeks away. This does not leave much time, if any at all for a cycling specific resistance training program (you need 10 weeks). Resistance Training needs to be completed in the early portion of the off season so that you still have time to put in a good base.  The ultimate goal is to increase your power output!  By planning the resistance program in advance you will be able to make sure you have ample time to switch focus to base and intervals before the racing season.

Building Your ATP:

The best way to start building the ATP is by starting backwards from your goal and main target.  In TrainingPeaks once you put that as your ‘A’ event we’ll use the manual mode from there. That way you can put in the plan that suits you best!

By working backwards you can include an overload and taper. Tapers require 2- 3 weeks before your A race, but need to follow 2 – 8 weeks of an overload period. An overload phase includes race specific intervals that match your goal and then you can go from there including intensity, base, resistance program, off season, fall foundation and end of season recovery period.

Read more about Off Season Training HERE.

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To inquire about working with Coach Jake and designing your annual training plan, please call 720.406.7444 or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.

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Jake Rytlewski racing the IceMan Cometh MTB

Training for the Iceman Cometh MTB Race

by Jake Rytlewski,  August 2015

If you have ever heard of or been to Kalkaska, Michigan chances are you have done or heard of the Iceman Cometh. The Iceman Cometh is a 27 mile point to point mountain bike race in northern Michigan held yearly on the first Saturday of November. What started off as a small event with only a handful of races has turned into an end of the year party drawing over 4,000 racers. Even though there is a lot of talk about the after party, many riders like to finish of the year on a high note with a good result.

But how do you train for the Iceman Cometh MTB race? Here is a 13 week training plan showing you how!

Of course the biggest variable is the weather where it can be anywhere from 70 degrees to 20 degrees and 6 inches of snow or anything in between. Each week has a training day dedicated to skills. You should look to ride in different trail conditions such as sand and mud so you will be ready and confident.

Iceman is said to be a road racers course with all the two track and dirt roads. You will need a huge aerobic engine as you will be spending a lot of time riding as close to your FTP as possible, while being able to make those anaerobic efforts getting over the short steep climbs.

From the start you have to be ready to go Full Gas. This is true regardless if you are looking for a result or just to do personal best time. For those looking for a result you will need to get in position to hit the trails in the front, and for those looking for a fast time you will want to take advantage of the draft from the other riders. You will be sprinting off the start line and fighting for position to get to and stay near the front for the first 2 miles. Once you hit the trails it is single file and there is very little passing. Without a good position you can find yourself losing the leaders, and or being held up by slower riders and crashes. With Iceman being more a road course it is crucial to draft and stay with the leaders. You don’t hit the first single track until 8 miles into the race.

You get 2 miles of single track after the fast start and need to keep up. Again any mishaps or slow up will cost you as the race heads for Steve’s secret and some tough climbs before opening back up on some two track and dirt roads. After 4 miles of fast two track and dirt roads you will be approaching the Williamsburg road crossing. This is a great opportunity to get a feed or make sure are eating and topping off with fuel. You will have a fast mile or two before hitting the Vasa Trail.

The Vasa Trail can either be your friend or enemy! If you have been able to sit in the draft, been staying fueled and have put in the training you can really enjoy the last 8 miles. Here you will find many little climbs that can make or break you race. These hills will take you 1 – 4 minutes at a full gas effort. You want to stay smooth through here and keep the pressure on over the top of the climbs. Use the last ones as a launch pad to try to separate yourself from the rest. You’ll want to be in the front before you hit the last twisty mile through the camp ground as you will find little opportunities to pass.

For the first build cycle of this training plan you will be focusing on your aerobic engine with just hint of anaerobic efforts. You will begin with sweet spot and some long tempo intervals to help build up your aerobic engine to be ready to race hard for 2 – 3 hours. The plan mixes in the anaerobic efforts with tempo burst workouts during the week and the weekends mix in Zone 5 and 6 efforts in with aerobic intervals. In a race you will very rarely just sit at a steady pace throughout. By mixing in these surges it trains your body to be able to respond and recover between harder anaerobic efforts.

During the second build cycle you will start working on your FTP with threshold intervals. Having a high FTP for Iceman is important as you will be spending a lot of time at it and above. The sweet spot intervals will continue during this phase as well, but they will be longer. You will be doing up to and over an hour total of sweet spot riding on your weekend rides. Really helping you be prepared to put in over 2 hours of hard race. These efforts are going to carry you through the fast two tracks and dirt roads. By the end of this cycle you start some Zone 5 intervals.

Come the third build cycle you will be focused on intensity! You will be 4 weeks from the race and it is time to lower the duration a bit and ramp up the intensity. It is the time you want to be making hard race like efforts. You will be doing Vo2 Max and Zone 6 anaerobic intervals. These are going to help prepare you for the race surges and many short steep hills you will find on course including Steve’s Secret and on the Vasa Trail. These are the efforts you will be making though out the race from the start to the last hills on the Vasa Trail.

Coach Jake racing to a 7th place PRO finish in the 2009 IceMan

You can mix your riding on and off road. Just make sure that you are getting in the skills day. Even though the course is mostly two track there are sections you will to be ready for so you don’t lose valuable time or energy. Also every 4th week is a rest week! Make sure to take it easy and let your muscles regenerate from the accumulative training stress. This is when you get stronger and ready for the coming up training block!

How to ride in the sweet spot

Sweet spot is a training term and intensity you will frequently see in this training calendar. To ride in your sweet spot, adjust your pace between medium and maximal, in a zone you’d call “medium hard.” By power or heart rate, sweet spot is between 83 and 97 percent of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). If you have a power meter, you can use it to pace yourself between 91 and 105 percent of your FTP, or even more if your form is good.

Video: More on sweet spot training
Setting your FTP

You will want to have a properly set FTP to help set up your training zones. You may already have one set from a long year of racing. You can use your peak 1 hour norm power or 95% of your peak 20 minute average power. Look to race files for possible peaks. Or you could conduct your own field test.

Video: More about conducting a field test

This is a 13 week training plan. You will be doing 3 build cycles with each raising the intensity and overall Training Stress. Make sure you have a recovery drink and food ready at the completion of each workout. Also be sure to staying hydrated and fueled during your workouts. Not only will it help you that day, but it also keeps you from falling in a deficit, especially as the workload increases.

Work, family, and other commitments can make completing every workout a challenge. Even if you can only ride for one hour, perform the intervals and try to balance your time so that you can consistently ride each training day. It’s better to ride for one hour each training day rather than three hours one day a week. Set a personal goal for your own Iceman because improving as a cyclist is all about setting goals and working toward them.

Copyright 2016 , FasCat Coaching

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Jake is an Associate Coach with FasCat Coaching.  You can buy his 13 Week Iceman Training Plan HERE.  He is a full time professional USA cycling and TrainingPeaks certified coach and finished 7th overall in the 2009 IceMan.  To talk with Jake about racing the IceMan, and building power on the bike, please call 720.406.7444, or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.

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Masters Road Nationals Winning Power File Data

Power Demands from US Master’s Road Race Nationals

What it takes to win the Masters 35 – 39 National Road Race Championships, by Coach Jake Rytlewski & performed by Jonathan Jacob, Bissell ABG Giant

Congratulations to FasCat athlete Jonathan Jacob, who won the Masters 35 – 39 National Road Race Championships.  Jonathan, JJ as he goes by, had a goal of winning Masters Nationals this winter and we set him up with a plan. His main focus is on the time trial as he is a former 30 – 34 national champion, but also can excel in road races. JJ used his strengths in time  trial training to set off on an epic solo move for over half the race and came in seconds ahead of the rest.

What does it take to win like this? Well for 1 hour and 39 minutes, JJ averaged 358 watts which for him is 5.04 w/kg! That was at 95% of his FTP.  His move started off with an attack. Now sprinting is not is strong suite. He hit 1,113 watts, which is his peak for the year, and held 572 watts for one minute. Then he settled into TT mode where he is right at home. For the next 16 minutes he held 385 watts, 5.4 w/kg to help open the gap. Then for the next 1 hour and 22 minutes he held 345 watts to hold off the field.

CTL/ATL/TSB = 93/101/+10

With all the time trial training we have been doing with threshold and sweet spot efforts, he was able to use that to his advantage. We knew he would not win in a sprint, so a breakaway was the only way. Typically you don’t try to go from so long solo, but when no one else goes with you, or can’t, you roll the dice. JJ is known for being able just ride hard for long periods of time, so anyone who has raced with him or ridden with him are not surprised.

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Congratulations again to Jonathan Jacob, a working man’s hero and his coach, Jake Rytlewski!  Jonathan’s a FasCat Athlete and you can be too.   To inquire about working with Coach Jake and winning your national championship jersey, please call 720.406.7444 or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.

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wattage based training zones including sweet spot

Make the Most out of Your New PowerMeter

by Jake Rytlewski,  January 2016

Here are 3 ways to make the most out of your new powermeter (originallly appeared on VeloNews.com , January 2016)

  1. Perform a 20 minute field test to establish a baseline and your wattage based training zones
  2. Open up a TrainingPeaks account
  3. Follow a Power-Based Training Plan

# 1 Determining your threshold power with a field test is the most important thing you can do with your new powermeter. A simple 20-minute field test can determine your power at threshold, which is the best starting point for a power-based training plan. Your threshold wattage determines your training zones, pacing, and lets you analyze training data using software such as Training Peaks.

A field test is a real-world, scientifically supported method for cyclists to determine threshold power. Essentially, you ride as hard as you can for 20 minutes, like a time trial. The average wattage from the test is used to determine the rider’s power at threshold.

Ideally, the test is conducted on an uninterrupted stretch of road that will take 20 minutes to complete, like a climb that averages 3-8 percent or an out-and-back road to avoid wind from the same direction. Pick a course that you can repeat throughout the year to retest your threshold.

Even though this is a full-gas effort, you need to pace yourself. You may feel great for the first few minutes, but the effort will catch up to you. Try to start and finish at the same wattage.

If you hit the lap button on your head unit, you can see your average lap power, once you download your data. On the graph above, you can see the 20-minute field test highlighted. This athlete averaged 350 watts, but they did start off a bit hard, as their power faded 10 watts from start to finish.

Now that you have that 20-minute power, how do you apply that to your Functional Threshold Power (FTP)? Since the test is a 20-minute snapshot for your true 60-minute FTP, you will use 90-95 percent of your 20-minute power average.

#2 A TrainingPeaks account is the easiest way to plan, track and analyze your training.  Enter your FTP into TrainingPeaks to calculate your training zones and open up a plethora of power based metrics like Training Stress Score, Intensity Factor and Chronic Training Load — all calculated off of your FTP.  You can sign up for a free, basic account, which works well for beginners, or spring for the premium version to get more training analysis features.

#3  Now that you have a power meter, power-based training zones, and a TrainingPeaks account, you can start following a training plan. Because what is the point of buying and using a power meter without a solid plan to reach your goals? It would be like baking without measuring ingredients —Your cookies may be good, but they won’t make Phil Gaimon’s top-10 list!

In TrainingPeaks, we have compiled a list of our own FasCat TrainingPeaks plans, which work well for our riders. For the purposes of a NEW powermeter, here is a  free, four-week training block to help you get started in 2016. The first week of the plan is designed to get you started with a field test so you can set up your training zones. Then, the following weeks are aerobic base-building. You will do a mix of sweet spot and tempo burst. The last week of the block is a rest week — don’t overlook this part, because this is when your body will get stronger from all the hard training.

Copyright 2016 , FasCat Coaching

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Jake is an Associate Coach for FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO.  He is a full time professional USA cycling and TrainingPeaks certified coach.  To talk with Jake about what to do with your new powermeter, please call 720.406.7444 or email jake@fascatcoaching.com for a New Athlete Questionnaire

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How to Improve Power Output on the Bike

by Jake Rytlewski,  April 2014

After planning your season and setting up your A race the next step is to create a training plan to improve your power output. This should include knowing the course and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. For instance, cyclists should know if the course is hilly or flat, does it typically end in a sprint or do breakaways succeed? Similarly, triathletes would want to know if they will face a major climb or rolling hills.

Once you’ve determined the demands of the course, you should reference that with your current fitness abilities for what will be required during your race. If your race ends in a bunch sprint, how strong is your sprint? If you need to put out tempo wattage for four hours, how strong is your aerobic fitness? Building your capabilities around the needs of your race is the basis of race specificity.

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

After collecting training and racing data or completing a power profile test you can determine your strengths and weaknesses. Without formal testing data, racing data can be the best way to create a power profile chart. Racing data is often times better because it is more relative than formal test data. So be sure to race with your power meter!

Once you set your baseline numbers up you can track your improvements and progression. What demands do you need to be good at for your goal event? Do you need to be focusing on your 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, or threshold power? This will help you or your coach set up your training plan by focusing on maximizing your strengths and addressing your weaknesses. While it is a good idea to work on weaknesses it is also important to keep up what you are good at. Set goals around your strengths and then use your strengths to reach those goals.

Here are a few workouts that may help you improve your race specific 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and 20 minute power outputs. All efforts are done at an all out effort for the time period stated.

5 Second Power Workout:

3 sets of 4 x 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off. Rest for 5 minutes between sets.

1 Minute Power Workout:

2 sets of 5 x 1 minute on, 1 minute off. Rest for 5 minutes between sets.

5 Minute Power Workout:

2 sets of 3 x 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off. Rest for 6 minutes between sets.

20 Minute Power Workout:

3 x 10 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes between.

Be sure to spend 2 to 4 weeks working on a particular weakness and track your progress

Tracking Improvements

While you can simply look to see if your numbers are going up, you can also track your improvements with the Power Profile Chart. In TrainingPeaks you can have it show any range of dates such as your current season and then have it display peak power to weight for any giving smaller period as in weekly or monthly peaks.

The Power Profile Chart

This Power Profile Chart is over the first half of a season and each bar represents peak power to weight ratios in a 4 week period.

The first thing we can view from this chart is that this athletes 5 minute and 20 minute power is their strength, while they don’t have a great 5 second or 1 minute power. This rider will find it hard, if not nearly impossible, to win a short track race or a race that ends in a sprint. Their goal race should be road races, particularly one with the demands of 5 – 20 minute efforts or climbs. Or they should know that to win a race they need to be in a breakaway or try to go solo.

This Power Profile Chart also makes it easy to see improvements over the season. Throughout the first half of the season this rider gets stronger in all areas. Even though this riders 5 minute and 20 minute power are his strengths his 5 second and 1 minute power also improve throughout the year. A good training plan will incorporate all physiological aspects even though the focus maybe in one particular area. You can watch your progression on the Power Profile Chart throughout the year to keep track of your improvements.

To be fully prepared for your A race of the season you should spend some time first determining the demands of your event, then tailor your efforts to those demands. When you know those demands and how they relate to your strengths and weaknesses in neuromuscular power, anaerobic power, Vo2 max, and Functional Threshold Power you or your coach can set up a training plan that focuses on maximizing your strengths and addresses your weaknesses by using workouts that help improve each.

Copyright 2016 , FasCat Coaching

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Jake is an Associate Coach at FasCat Coaching.  He is a full time professional USA cycling and TrainingPeaks certified coach..  To talk with Jake about building power on the bike, please call 720.406.7444 or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation with him

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