Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Developing your 2011 Training Plan

Developing a cycling training plan is actually pretty simple.  You design a workout(s) that loads/trains the appropriate muscle group (or trains the targeted energy system) you're trying to develop, you rest and recover- giving your body a chance to recuperate and adapt and you get stronger.  Then you just fit these workouts into your busy lifestyle/schedule and voila- you have a cycling training plan.  This fitness level of human body in training (of rest, recover and adapt) is also known as "supercomposition" and consists of four (4) periods: intial fitness, training, recovery and supercomposition.  (see chart)

Supercompensation, in sports science theory, is the post training period during which the trained athlete has a higher performance capacity (or fitness level) than it did during the training period. 

The difficulty for an athlete (or coach) when developing the training plan is applying the appropriate load during training, ensuring adequate rest/recovery and correctly timing the next training load- to take advantage of the supercompensation period.  If the next training load takes place prior to the supercompensation period then "overtraining" will occur.  This is why I'm constantly screaming at some of my athletes to ensure they get proper rest after hard training efforts or races.  If the next training load takes place after the supercompensation period (i.e. you sit on your a$$ for 3 days after a hard traning/racing effort) then you're basically starting from the beginning and you pretty much wasted your training time.  The goal of a good training plan, is to take advantage of the peak fitness created during the supercompensation period.  i.e. to build on the increased fitness level.

Here are just some of the questions coaches/athletes need answers to when developing a "good/effective" training plan:
a. How much of a load should be applied? i.e. How hard should the workout be? Threshold, VO2max?  How long should the load be applied? 1-4 hrs?  How frequent should the load be applied? 2-4 days per week?  When should it be applied?
b. How much rest/recovery is adequate between training/races?  is 24 hrs adequate? 2 days?  What if I have a stage race and can't get 24 hrs. rest/recovery?
c. How does proper post-training nutrition affect recovery?
d. Do I work on improving one energy system per week e.g. Threshold or can I train both VO2max and Threshold in the same week?
e. Can I improve Endurance and Strength/Force concurrently?

To be honest with you, it's not easy developing an "effective" training plan.  It's because every athlete is different not only in age/physical makeup/etc. but in how they adapt to training loads.  That's why it's imperative for coaches to know their athletes.  For some of my athletes, I can give them 2-3 tough workouts on successive days before they need a day of rest.  For others, they need a day of rest after EVERY hard workout.  What helps me immensely is taking a look at athletes Power Meter files.  When I look at an athletes downloaded Power Meter file I can tell how hard and how long that athlete trained/raced.  Without that information, I can only go by how the athlete feels/reacts- which is NOT very accurate.  Or worse, I have to go by what an athlete says- which is NOT accurate...haha.  You wouldn't believe how many times I email an athlete AFTER a tough workout and say, "so how was that 2x20@ L4 workout last night?", and they'll say, "it was ok?".  If they say that I know they either a). didn't do the workout or b) didn't do it in their true L4 zone/level.  Because if you're truly doing them at L4, they suck/hurt..period.  I know, I do EVERY workout I prescribe to my athletes...even Tabata intervals where I feel like puking afterwards.

Anyway, good luck with your 2011 cycling training plan.  If you're an athlete that I coached and need help with yours, contact me and I'll give you some FREE advice.  If I never coached you before you can always hire me for coaching and I'll develop your training plan for you.  BTW, I teach all of my athletes my coaching philosophy (which is based on Joe Friel's, Hunter Allen's, Dr. Andy Coggan's and Dr. Allen Lim's research.  These guys seem to talk the same language and are the free-worlds experts in exercise physiology and power meter racing/training) and how to coach themselves with the help of a Power Meter.  I think every athlete should know how to coach themselves.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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