4 minute VO2 Power Data

How to Perform VO2 Max Intervals with your PowerMeter

By Frank Overton, Owner & Founder at FasCat Coaching  (originally  written for VeloNews)

When the hammer drops on your next group ride it is likely a VO2 effort. I see it all the time in reviewing my athlete power data: the crux of getting into the break, making the selection, or the race winning move lasts between 3 – 6 minutes.  This is raw VO2 power and requires that you ride full gas.  We can mimic the physiological demands of those moments in our training with VO2 Max Intervals.

Here is a simple VO2 workout to improve your explosive power and ability to deliver in those make or break moments in your group ride or race:

VO2 Max Intervals: Zone 5 (105 – 120% of Threshold Wattage): 2 sets of 2 x 4 min ON 4 min OFF; 8 min in-between sets.

  • Warm Up easy for 15 – 30 minutes
  • Perform these Intervals on a climb (if available)
  • Begin each interval by modulating your wattage between 105% and 120% of your FTP power

With an accurately set FTP, 105-120% should be as hard as you can go for 4 minutes (and any 3-6 minute VO2 interval).

  • Hold your wattage in Zone 5 for 4 minutes
  • After the first 4 minute interval turn around and coast back down the hill (or pedal in Zone 2 if on flat terrain).
  • Turn around again and reposition yourself to begin the next interval from the same spot after 4 minutes of recovery.
  • A properly paced interval should feel moderately hard at first, difficult in the middle and a max effort at the end.
  • Tip: use your PowerMeter’s readout as motivation to hold the effort between your Zone 5 wattages for the full four minutes.
  • Don’t let your wattage dip below your Zone 5 wattage!
  • Try to maintain your power output above 105% but not above 120% (that is too hard and physiologically unrealistic).
  • After two intervals, take an 8 minute set break to spin around, recover and prepare for the final set.
  • After you complete both sets ride around in zone 2 or cool down.
  • Upload your data to TrainingPeaks and analyze your average interval wattages!

Find the perfect six-week interval plan: Click here to browse our $49 plans!

Technique

“Make the power” any which way you can; it does not have to be pretty. Dance on the pedals out of the saddle or try spinning seated. Be aggressive, get after it! I recommend alternating between sitting and standing. Position your hands out on the hoods for maximum leverage to rock the bike back and forth as you pump up and down on the pedals. With the real time wattage feedback from your power meter, you’ll quickly see which climbing technique enables you to make the power.

Motivation

These are difficult intervals (some of the toughest) so come into the workout rested, motivated, fueled and ready to suffer. The payoff is that you will be a more powerful, faster bike rider. Imagine you are charging up the race’s climbs with the taste of blood in your mouth and the podium is within your grasp! If you have snot coming out of your nose, or drool coming out of your mouth at the end of the last few intervals you are doing them correctly. For the goal-oriented athlete, there can be a tremendous amount of satisfaction in the successful completion of such a difficult workout within the prescribed zone 5 wattages.

Power Data Analysis

The graph below is an athlete’s power data from the VO2 Intervals described above (Zone 5: 4 x 4 min ON 4 min OFF, FULL GAS. This particular athlete is training for a road race with 3 climbs that last approximately 4 minutes each. Not only is this VO2 workout great for his fitness and power output, but it is specific to the power demands of his race course.

Notice the distinct plateau shaped power vs. time graph for each interval and the relative steady wattage output.   Theses intervals were well paced with averages of 340, 331, 331 and 332 watts, respectively.

Pacing

Since you are motivated and hungry like the wolf, don’t go out too hard for the first 1-2 intervals.  You want your last interval to be as good as your first.  There’s the Right Way and the Wrong Way to perform intervals.   In other words don’t start each interval at 150% of your FTP only to struggle to hold 95% in the 2nd half.  Use your powermeter to also not go too hard.  By modulating your effort in real time with a powermeter, you can execute your intervals much better than you can by heart rate.  Use the display to pedal harder into your zone 5 but not above.  In that case back off so that the watts fall in your zone 5 wattage.  Not too hard, not too easy, just right like Goldilocks.

Pro Power Analysis Tip

Calculate your average 4 minute VO2 Interval power by adding up the average of each interval and divide by 4 (or # of intervals).  Use this number to measure improvement against future 4 minute VO2 workouts.  For example if you averaged 283 watts April 16th, 2014 for this VO2 workout, repeat the intervals in 2 weeks under the same rested conditions and analyze your average interval power to see if you eclipsed the 283 watts from April 16th.

Advanced VO2 Workout

If 2 sets of 2 intervals for 4 total VO2 intervals is not enough for you, try 2 sets of 3 [2 sets of 3 x 4 min ON 4 min OFF]. However, remember to focus on the quality and amplitude of the power first before moving onto the quantity. Finally, if 24 minutes of VO2 work is not enough for you, try the grand-daddy VO2 workout off all time: 2 sets of 3 x 5 min ON 5 min OFF with 10 minutes in-between each set!

Progression from introductory VO2 intervals to more advanced and more challenging interval workouts may be found in our six week $49 interval training plans.

Copyright 2017 , FasCat Coaching

Frank is the founder and owner of FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO. Frank and the FasCat Coaches have been prescribing VO2 intervals to athletes for over 15 years.  To get VO2’s prescribed into your training, you can email frank@fascatcoaching.com , call 720.406.7444, or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to schedule a Coaching Consultation.  Or you may buy FasCat’s six-week interval training plans for $49 here.  Either way, look forward to increasing your VO2 Max Power at crunch time!

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4 minute VO2 Max Intervals

How to Perform Intervals Properly with a PowerMeter

by Frank Overton February 19, 2003!  revised February 2016

When I bought my first powermeter in 2001, one of the things I first learned is that intervals are performed so much better by power than by heart rate.  In this training tip I am going to describe how to perform intervals with a powermeter.  When you perform intervals with a powermeter you benefit so much greater than with heart rate or by feel.

Yes, that’s right, if there is one single thing you can do to become faster, it’s intervals. It is possible to evaluate an athlete’s interval ‘technique’ and show them visually how to perform intervals with a powermeter. Even if you don’t have a powermeter the graphical analysis below will help you conduct your intervals the “RIGHT WAY” by “feel”.

The Right Way:

In the graph below, one can see power, heart rate and elevation data.  This is the “RIGHT WAY” to perform intervals with a powermeter: consistent steady power output.  Notice how the last interval (av 414 watts) is close to the first interval (av 445 watts).  We call that proper interval pacing not only during the one interval but for all 4 intervals in the set.

During the interval, use the real time power data to adjust your effort based on your power readout and wattage zones.  Not too hard, not too easy, just right like Goldilocks.  A steady effort produces a nice consistent power output over the course of the interval as shown above. The bottom line is to go as hard as you can but gauge your effort so that you can finish the interval with as much effort or power as you started the interval. If you can do this your power output will look like the graph above and you are well on your way to improving and maybe winning some races.

The Wrong Way:

Starting off too hard at the beginning of an interval is a common mistake especially for cyclists going off of heart rate alone. Notice how the intervals below start with a huge surge followed by a drop in power for the remainder of the interval.  In other words the athlete “blew up” chasing a heart rate zone. Don’t make the mistake of going as hard as you can in order to get your HR up as soon as possible. Heart rate lags behind your power output and in the case of these intervals is not a true indicator of what’s going on.

There are two reasons why you want a consistent power output for your intervals:  First, there will be less pain and suffering!  Second, by pacing yourself you’ll actually be able to perform more intervals at the prescribed wattage.  In the “WRONG WAY” graph above the athlete’s average power for the first interval is too high/above his prescribed zone and then because it was too hard, the athlete really starts to suffer and limps thru the next 3 intervals with the last one below the prescribed wattage.  Thus the physiological adaptation is not achieved.   From a sports psych perspective this ‘performance’ is discouraging for athletes.  So the athlete went out too hard, underperformed, and limped home discouraged.  Not optimal.

In the “RIGHT WAY” graph, the athlete paced himself properly and all four intervals were between the prescribed wattage zone. Plus there was less suffering and a feeling of accomplishment.   By RPE the first interval wasn’t ‘that bad’, the second wasn’t either, the 3rd interval really ‘hurt’ (but the wattage was there) and the fourth interval was not only extremely hard but the athlete’s power dropped off ~ 30 watts. That’s a well paced and executed interval workout in my opinion and experience.

We have several six week training plans for $49, where you can perform intervals with a powermter

Here’s our motto of interval training: Go as hard as you can BUT only as hard as you can maintain for the duration of your entire interval workout.  You’ll be able to do more intervals, recover in-between each, and start to see a big difference in your training, racing, and cycling performance.

Copyright 2017 , FasCat Coaching

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Frank wrote this training tip 14 years ago but still coaches athletes to this day on their intervals using this tip!  To talk with Frank about performing your interval properly, please call 720.406.7444 or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.  Otherwise you can find him performing consistent intervals with his powermeter up one of the many climbs in and around Boulder, CO. Finally for those of you who know how to train but need a plan, check out the $49 Training Plans with the intervals described above  that Frank and the FasCat Coaches have designed!

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Field Test: 20 minuter

10 Reasons Train with a Powermeter

by Frank Overton, PowerMeter user since 2000

Powermeter training: you’ve heard about it, but why?  Here are our Top Ten Reasons to Train with a Powermeter.   Bear in mind we have 16 years experience training, racing, troubleshooting and selling powermeters.  I bought my first SRM powermeter in 2000 following on Greg Lemond’s heels when he started training with power in the early 1990s. The power demands of road cycling were just beginning to be understood.  Sixteen years later the knowledge of how to train with power has filtered down from the upper echelons of sport science into mainstream coaching and cycling.

As training with power continues to evolve, the prices have continued to come down as well. In the early days, an SRM was the only available portable powermeter with a cost well in excess of $5,000 US. In the last 5 years, “cost per accuracy” has come down considerably and an accurate, reliable, validated powermeter may be purchased for under $600.

So without further ado, here are our top ten reasons to train with a powermeter:

10. Rationalize the purchase by letting “it be known (to your better half)” that this will be the last bike computer you will ever need.  You can display and record Power Output, Heart Rate, Cadence, Wheel Speed, Distance Covered, Altitude, Ambient Temperature  and Energy Expenditure. Plus you can upload your ride data to popular GPS sites like Strava or MapMyRide and best of all TrainingPeaks to compare yourself to others and explore your route.

9. Calculate your training load and emphasize quality not quantity. The saying goes, “I used to train 20 hours a week until I got a powermeter”. A prime example is illustrated by riding Sweet Spot. Achieve greater physiological adaptations than by riding in zone 2 alone and have the data to show for it. Know how much training you’ve done and how much more you need to go.

Six Week Sweet Spot Training Plan for advanced aerobic endurance training.

8. Test your fitness “fo’ free” anywhere, anytime with a field test. Show up on your group rides and wow your arch nemesis by exaggerating your power at threshold in watts/kilogram of body weight.

7. Optimize your aerodynamic position. Yes, a powermeter is an expensive proposition but it can also be a cheap man’s wind tunnel. A powermeter can be used to optimize the rider’s aerodynamic position aimed at reducing aerodynamic drag. In a nutshell, ride at 45kph on a track and look for a reduction in power output from various body positions.

6. Lose weight by figuring out your daily nutritional requirements by converting energy expenditure (kilojoules) into calories. Read how here.

5. A powermeter is the ultimate way to incorporate sweet spot training into your program. Take what works from an old school training technique and see why with new school technology.

4. Perform intervals properly with more consistency, precision, feedback, and analytical ability. A powermeter displays wattage in real time (i.e. instantaneously) so you know how hard to go and it’ll keep you honest during your intervals!

3. Completely dial in your overall training load with power based performance modeling. Training by duration and distance is good. However, the ability to prescribe, execute and manage a scientifically designed training plan by measuring energy expenditure in kilojoules and overall training stress with Training Stress Score is more precise.

2. A powermeter takes post race analysis to a whole new level by giving you and your coach something to analyze and serving as a common language for discussion. There is no more, “I got dropped.” A powermeter is brutally honest and now it’s “I got dropped when you you doing 280 watts”. And since we like to be positive, power data will show you your improvement independent of your peers.  Most importantly it paves the way for adjusting your training to overcome those deficiencies and to continually improve.

1. Model out your training: You’ve been hitting the sauce hard, training 8, 10, and upwards of 12 hour per week. But what is the cumulative effect all those hours, kilojoules and TSS combined together? With a power meter it’s possible to use The Shit That Will Kill Them a.k.a. a power-based impulse-response performance model. Boil all of your files, an entire season’s worth, down into three numbers: Chronic Training Load, Acute Training Load and Training Stress Balance or “form”. You’ll be able to figure out if you are training too much, not enough, and most importantly “just right”. Use the model to arrive on the start line of your most important races(s) in “peak” form.

Most importantly, a powermeter gives athletes and coaches data to exchange and use as a tool for getting faster. The power data + athlete feedback is the ultimate form of communication. And communication is the MOST important part of coaching. For example, the common question ‘how are you feeling?’ becomes ‘how did you feel while you were making 300 watts?’ The coach knows that 300 watts is 10% less than the athlete’s threshold power and wants to make sure that this feels easy. If not, it’s an indication that the athlete needs to rest to avoid overtraining.

Copyright 2017 , FasCat Coaching

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Frank is the founder and owner of FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO. Frank and the FasCat Coaches have been training with power for over 15 years.  To begin training with power, you can fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to schedule a Coaching Consultation.  Or you may buy one of FasCat’s power-based six week training plans for $49 here.  Either way, look forward to increasing your power output on the bike!

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Field Test Workout

A 20 Minute Power-Based Field Test

by Frank Overton, January 2015

One key question we ask ourselves as coaches at FasCat, is if the athlete is responding to the training we have prescribed. Our favorite “experiment” to answer this question is a good old fashioned 20 minute power based field test, which is free (if you have a powermeter) and can be conducted just about anywhere.

Reality Cycling

In a former life and career, I conducted hundreds of experiments in a medical and biotechnology laboratory designed to answer specific questions about the research projects I was working on.  At FasCat, we still perform “experiments” designed to evaluate our athlete’s current physiology, and the most practical most relevant one of all is a 20 minute power based field test.

In the past we have conducted MLSS tests in an exercise physiology lab, but the reality is that cyclists need to test more often than they can afford to or is practical to schedule a laboratory test.  Plus indoor power tends to be slightly less that outdoor power.  A properly conducted field test cuts to the core of cycling performance and gives a great physiological assessment of the athlete (1), making it an indispensable tool for our coaches or the self coached athlete.

How Do I Conduct a Field Test?

In essence, a 20 minute power based field test is still riding as fast as hard as you can for exactly 20 minutes.  Record your average power output and use that number as a benchmark and to determine your wattage based zones*.  When available we’ll recommend a steady grade hill free of stop signs, descents and any section of road that requires the athlete to stop pedalling.  Ideally a 2-3% steady grade hill like this Strava segment.  Steeper climbs tend to bog athletes’ cadence down which skews the test results.  Conversely, some athletes make greater power uphill than they can on the flats. Whichever you choose, it is absolutely imperative that you ensure your test is repeatable, accurate and reliable. Here’s how:For the road cyclist and mountain biker an all out effort similar to your time trial pace of 20 minutes elicits a physiological response that has been found to be “the single greatest determinant of cycling performance in mass start cycling events” (1).  We have experimented with 60 minute Field Tests and honestly not that many athletes sustain that sort of mental effort for the full 60 minutes.  If they can its a mental match we don’t want to burn.  On the other hand if we know the athlete can do a 60 minute field test once a year, it is the coaches discretion to prescribe one.   It is especially beneficial to compare 60 minute field test data to ~ 60 minute 40k time trial data.

When choosing the roads for your field test let the terrain you have available dictate the specifics of your test (working within the 20 min range). After all, going for it from the bottom of a climb all the way to the top is more stimulating than working off your stopwatch. It may even be specific to your target event(s). For instance, a climber targeting a race with a decisive climb will want to specifically perform their test on a climb similar to the one found in the race. Heck, if you live nearby the race course, test on the race course! Conversely you may not even see a climb longer than one or two minutes where you live. That’s cool; then find a stretch of road to measure how far you can ride in 20 minutes. If this is the case, pay special attention to the wind and humidity which will affect your aerodynamics and thus time. As long as you come back to the very same piece of road and start from the very same spot, under the same test conditions, your test will be repeatable.

*We take the average 20 minute power and subtract 5 – 10% to arrive at an athlete’s 60 minute “Functional Threshold Power” or FTP. As a generally rule of thumb we use 5% for slow twitch aerobic athletes and 10% for athletes that have a well developed anaerobic system.  We’ll subtract 7.5% if we don’t know about the athlete’s anaerobic capacity.

Repeatability

Whatever you have nearby, find a stretch of road free of stops signs, intersections and corners — anything that would slow you down. In essence: go as hard as you can! Don’t hold back one bit, go for it! Now here’s the catch: remember everything about this test and duplicate it for your next test.

Items to keep the same include:

• Your bike: weight (including water bottles), body position, tires, tire pressure.
• Your kit: jersey, shorts, helmet – – essentially you want to have the same aerodynamic characteristics from test to test.
• Wind and weather conditions: test on a windless day under the same humidity – air density affects aerodynamics too!
• Temperature: avoid testing between extreme temperature differences.
• Come into the test rested, properly fueled, well hydrated with tons of motivation.
• Perform the exact same warm up before each field test.
• In a nutshell keep everything the same except for your fitness.

Being able to compare tests and controlling for all other variables except your physiology or fitness allows you and your coach to interpret the efficacy of your training. These details may seem picky but are necessary to draw accurate comparisons.

Conversely, if your goal is to test the effects of changing components, position, technique (e.g., standing more/less on a climb, cadence, gearing), then you can also do that by using field tests spaced fairly close together (e.g., a couple of times over the course of a week). These “technical” field tests might be better if they’re shorter in duration. For example, you can do shorter 3-5 km time trials and record time to completion.

All of our Six Week $49 Training Plans culminate with a field test so you can measure how much faster you’ve become!

 

Test not once, but twice, or more

If you have a new powermeter or are beginning a training program, a “baseline” field test for two reasons:

• To determine your wattage based training zones
• To establish a benchmark to measure future improvement

For a good test ‘performance’, approach the day with a minimum of 24 hours rest and go absolutely as hard as you can during the test.  If you don’t, the results will be inconclusive.  Record the average power and continue with your next training cycle. Come back to the very same field test in 6-8 weeks under the same rested conditions and go for it again. By comparing the two average power outputs,  you will be able to draw useful conclusions about your training. i.e. is it working? Test periodically throughout the year (we recommend no more than 3 times*) and carefully record your results in your training log. This will paint a big picture that is extremely useful when plotting out your next move and planning your next winning season.

Regular testing is THE BEST way to track performance and we do not recommend using mean maximal, mFTP or power profile charts that cull non “as hard as you can go” power outputs. By performing 20 minute tests, you’ll also be able to compare this data with race data.  For example, time trials where you went as hard as you could for 20 minutes or breakaways and long climbs.

Summary

• Go as hard as you can for the full 20 minutes
• Upload your data and analyze the average power output
• Make sure the test is 100% repeatable to eliminate all variables except your average power output improvement
• For indoor 20 minutes tests, see our indoor cycling 20 minute tip

Finally, testing yourself is a great start, but remember the ultimate measure of performance is performance itself. So get out there in a race, go hard, and duke it out!  For further reading, please read the “Determining Threshold Power” training tip on VeloNews.

 

Reference

E.F. Coyle, A.R. Coggan, M.K. Hopper and T.J. Walters, “Determinants of endurance in well-trained cyclists.” J Appl. Physiol 64:2622-2630, 1988

Copyright 2017 , FasCat Coaching

Frank is the founder,  owner and CEO of FasCat Coaching  in Boulder, CO.  He is a full time professional USA cycling certified Elite level coach, former category 1 road racer; semi-pro mountain biker and nowadays a ‘master’ category cyclocross racer. FasCat prescribes field tests all over North America and Europe and locally chooses Lefthand Canyon in Boulder, CO for FasCat Athletes to test up. To talk with a FasCat Coach about the same testing described above, please call 720.406.7444 or fill out a  New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation. Additionally all of FasCat’s training plans have field tests prescribed for optimal performance.

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Power Data from Phil Gaimon racing the Tour of California

Phil’s File: Tour of California, 2016

Power Data Analysis by Frank Overton, May 2016

FasCat Athlete Phil Gaimon is racing the 2016 Tour of California for Cannondale Pro Cycling and Coach Frank is dissecting his power data and asking questions about what was going on in the race where Phil was throwing down.

Stage 3: 305.3 TSS, 4,460 kJ’s, IF = .81   9,206 ft. of climbing

Frank: Seeing you on front of the field racing up Gibraltar whittling the group down to ~22 riders was awesome!  What was the team plan going into the race?

Phil: it was all for Lawson, 100% committed.  Paddy, Wouter, Toms and Alan until the climb then Talansky King and I for the climb.

We can see your Gibraltar climb in 3 parts:
1. the bottom [6:06 @ 487 watts] >> 7.4 watts/kg
2. On the front [ 10:18 @ 426 watts] >> 6.48 watts/kg
3. sitting up [ 24:52 @ 331 watts] >> 5.03 watts/kg


Frank: From the bottom to where you pulled off you did 449 watts for 16.5 min [6.8 watts/kg]. Tell us what was going thru your head on the front of the field at a crucial moment- is it brain off, legs on? Are you taking cues on pace from Lawson and Talansky? Or just get me to the cookie feed?

Phil: Talansky and Lawson would tell me when to go harder and when to ease off.  I was hoping to make it to the cookie corner but fell 500 meters short.

Frank: What’s next for you and the team – today’s stage with the 2 final climbs looks right up your alley and the teams?

Phil: We haven’t had our team meeting yet, but we’re optimistic to finish on the podium and there’s lots of racing to come.

Frank: Is the chocolate chip bacon cookie still the frontrunner?

Phil: Yes, but keep ’em coming because like the racing there’s lots more competition to come. The winner of the week gets free entry to Phil’s Fondo and a castelli cookie jersey.

Good luck today!

Stage 2: 287.5 TSS, 3,720 kJ’s, IF = .86   10,456 ft. of climbing

Frank: Phil, you did 415 watts for just under 30 minutes up the 1st Cat 1 climb – what was going on there – wasn’t Ben King getting off the front?

“Ben was off the front solo around halfway. I was there for the counter if he got caught. I kept thinking he’d blow any minute but he hung out there a long time. Then he finally did get caught, and he went again. Ben doesn’t need recovery.”

Frank: Tell us how you were feeling, was this full gas?

“I felt pretty good. 416 I think would have hurt. ”  Phil’s FTP is 395 watts

Frank: After the first climb, you were ‘only’ doing 279 watts up the Cat 2 Tujunga Canyon Rd,  was this a situation where the peloton let the break go and you were just chilling?

“Yeah the break was gone and we could finally pee and eat. And eat. Also eat.”

Frank: Then from the power data up the 4th categorized climb, Little Tujunga Canyon Road [9:25 @ 411w] you were hitting it again – what was going on there?

“That’s when I got bottles for the guys. It was a bad time to carry an extra ten pounds but it wasn’t going to happen while we ripped the descent”

Frank: Best cookie so far?

“Chocolate chip bacon is the leader in the clubhouse. The winner of the week gets free entry to Phil’s Fondo and a castelli cookie jersey.”

How are the race hotels in California? How many hours of sleep did you get last night and was it on a Tempur pedic mattress?

“Real nice. I used five pillows last night. Queen bed”.

Good luck today in front of YELLOW and sikk watts up the Gibraltar!

Read the 2016 & 2014 FasCat Phil Interviews HEREHERE.

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No cookies were harmed nor eaten during this interview.  Phil’s a professional athlete, don’t try this at home.  He’s also a FasCat Athlete but you can be too.  To inquire, please call 720.406.7444 or fill (get it? haha) out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation. Otherwise you can buy Phil’s book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day.  Available worldwide.

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Phil Gaimon FasCat Athlete Interview

Interview by the FasCat Coaches,  February 2016

FasCat Athlete and Team Cannondale Rider, Phil Gaimon is back in the European peloton for 2016 and off to a good start having just finished Provence and Haut Var.  We asked Phil for his take on the racing in San Luis and Europe so far this season plus his winter training, weight loss, jet lag, motivation and of course cookies.

Coach Frank:

How was San Luis & your first set of euro races and have you bought stock in 3M, yet?

San Luis was long, hot and much more Tegadermy than expected. I’d hoped for a shot at one of the stages where I’d ridden well in 2014, but the lack of skin and sleep derailed that. I was pleasantly surprised just to be able to help the team and finish.  The French races last week were good to get reacquainted with the roads and European racing style. I dodged some road furniture, ripped some roundabouts, attacked on some climbs, and enjoyed a croissant and steak tartare.

You tested with Inigo again at CU Sports Med this winter, what else did you do different these off season that you feel has helped you for next year?

With input from Vaughters and the team, Frank and I put together a good gym routine this year. It was complete, but it didn’t have me in there for a million hours, and I was able to do some good endurance in between. A goal for this season will be to stay fit year-round and be useful at every race, rather than big peaks and valleys, so we put in a good foundation.

Coach Isaiah:

Any races on tap for you this year that you are most amped for?

Any of the races in Europe are a great experience. There’s an energy here and real fans that can’t be beat, but of course the Tour of California is a home race for me, so that’s always the favorite.

Have a particular playlist or ritual that helps you get amped up on the way to those races?

I mostly just listen to podcasts. I don’t need help getting amped. I use the iPod to be distracted and stay relaxed.

Coach Jake:

Pro Cycling is very demanding with little reward for most. What keeps you motivated through the difficult times such as being in a foreign country with half your skin gone?

You’re right. I quit.

No, that’s a tough question for here, because I’m writing a second book to try and answer that. The very short version is that bike racing is in me, and I sort of have to do it. I find that the teamwork and competition and work is a metaphor for everything in life, and I’ve grown and learned so much since I started, I’ll keep going as long as I can.

What is your favorite training ride / workout?

Please, don’t make me do sprints anymore, Frank. Every time I sprint, an angel sees me and laughs, and then falls to hell.

Coach Carson:

Any tips for beating the “Jet Lag” on Trans-Oceanic flights?

I wish I knew. Melatonin when it gets dark (not right before bed), and then set an alarm for the time you want to wake up and use a Philips GoLITE or similar. Those are supposed to help your body adjust, but it’s always a struggle in my experience.

Favorite cookie in Europe? Or non-cookie treat, if that’s possible?
Cookies are hard to find in Spain. I’m thinking about a weekly cookie party in Girona, but I don’t know how to bake. They do great chocolate muffins here, which might get me by for a few weeks.

Coach Nadia:

You’ve leaned up a lot for this season. What’s your strategy for staying on top of  caloric intake for the big stage races?

I’ve actually weighed about the same for my whole racing career. My diet these days is lots of veggies and protein and good fats, and then we adjust the carbs for how much I’m riding. So the basic eggs for breakfast, chicken at lunch, fish or steak at dinner, and then during a stage race, I’ll up the oatmeal and rice.

Favorite balm for road rash?

It’s all Tegaderm, keeping it covered until it’s ready for air. Someone at 3M read my book and sends me a box whenever I need it. I’m not proud of that, but it beats the Saran Wrap I was using back in the day.

 Read the 2014 FasCat Phil Interview HERE.

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No cookies were harmed nor eaten during this interview.  Phil’s a professional athlete, don’t try this at home.  He’s also a FasCat Athlete but you can be too.  To inquire, please call 720.406.7444 or email info@fascatcoaching.com for a New Athlete Questionnaire.  Otherwise you can buy Phil’s book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day.  Available worldwide.

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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 Perform an Indoor Field Test

by Carson Christen, January 6, 2014

Welcome to FasCat Coaching’s Indoor Cycling Class Program! During the first class, you will complete an indoor field test for 20 minutes.  This test will determine your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test in order to set your wattage and heart rate zones for precise training in the remaining classes. We will test again during the final week of class to measure your improvement! This training tip will give some advice for what you can do to prepare for your first class. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your test!

Goals: to determine your Power-Based Wattage Training Zones

1.      The purpose of this test is to have the highest average power for 20 minutes. By testing and going as hard as you can in order to get accurate training zones, you will be able to train and achieve precise physiological adaptations over the course of the 9 weeks.

2.       Power-Based Pacing: Now, this doesn’t mean start off as hard as you possibly can so your power drops over the course of the test. Most athletes will test in the 200-300 watt range. So starting your test at 400 watts would be going too hard!  Use your Week 1 average power to pace off of.  You can also complete this test by going by feel. “Try going as hard as you feel you can sustain for 20 minutes” without going above 300 watts (for example).  A FasCat coach will be present, so ask your coach what a good starting point will be.

3. Power-Based Training: Once you have completed your 20-minute test, your coach will upload your power data into TrainingPeaks, analyze your power, and determine your FTP number. You will receive a lanyard with your training zones to bring to class to training in the correct zones for each workout.

4.      Nutrition: If you are registered for a morning class, don’t worry about getting up early to eat; your body will have enough stored energy to complete the test!  For those evening classes, eat a good meal 3-4 hours before the test. It is important to have your glycogen stores topped off before attempting this workout! There will be water and Skratch electrolyte mix available when you arrive for your class.

5.      Arrive to class and be ready to go when class begins! Make sure to have your cycling outfit, towel, water bottle, shoes, and of course, your bike! We have a warm-up built in to the class, so come ready to ride and take the warm-up seriously!

6.     Be motivated for your test! A 20-minute Full Gas effort is a mentally challenging task. Come prepared to give you best effort and know that it is “just a test.” We will be on hand to motivate you! You will also complete a second 20-minute test during the final class. This test is under repeatable conditions to maximize accuracy! Once the spring and summer come around, you can re-test your fitness with 20-minute tests up the local climbs such as Flagstaff, Sunshine, or Lookout with a powermeter. We recommend testing again in late April – June as your fitness is ever changing and power-based training captures this change.

7. Use your average power to calculate your wattage zones.
We look forward to working with you and helping you reach your fitness goals! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call, email or visit FasCat.

Copyright 2015 , FasCat Coaching

FasCat Coaching, a cycling coaching company with a Performance Center in Boulder, CO.  To talk with a FasCat Coach about their Indoor Cycling Curriculum please call 720.406.7444, email info@fascatcoaching.com for a New Athlete Questionnaire or stop in our Performance Center at 4550 North Broadway Street in Boulder, CO.

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Why Buy a PowerMeter from FasCat

Any retailer can sell you a powermeter; however only FasCat can show you how to use it by coaching you for FREE for one month. Buy a powermeter from us and we’ll be able to tell you what powermeter is right for what you want to accomplish with it. Plus we’ll give you technical support every step along the way.

That includes installing the power-analysis software, downloading files, setting up your charts and showing you how to interpret the data. When you buy an SRM, Quarq CinQo, PowerTap or Stages powermeter from FasCat, we will help you every step along the way. We only sell what we ride and therefore we know the intricacies of each system. We also know what works from the FasCat athletes that are using the very same powermeter systems. Our experience and knowledge makes FasCat the most knowledgeable place to purchase your powermeter.

From consulting on which powermeter is right for you, compatible with your bike, to installing the software and successfully downloading a file, we’ll talk you thru the entire process.

Once your crank or wheel is on, we’ll show you how to synch your new powermeter to your handlebar computer & set up your laptop to download your training files. Remotely, we’ll talk you thru the installation on the phone. This includes setting up your computer to download, analyze & send your power files easily as email attachments. During your FREE month of coaching we will use your training data to teach you how to train with power.

No Sales Tax for Out of State Orders! We Ship Internationally!

First month of coaching includes:

1. Wattage Based Field Test to determine your power at threshold and training zones in watts
2. Power Based Training Calendar
3. Expert Analysis of your power data and daily Coaching Feedback
4. We will teach you how to use you powermeter
5. FasCat will provide technical software and powermeter support for the life of your powermeter

Buy your powermeter from FasCat and we guarantee you will tap into all the benefits from training with power.

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