Friday, January 28, 2011

Progressive Resistance/Power Training

The big buzzword in cycling training these days is "Progressive Power Training".  Sounds good doesn't it?  I think it does.  Although it sounds NEW it's not, it's been around forever.

Whether you call it "progressive resistance" or "progressive power" training, the methodology is based on the same principle/concept- your body adapts to exercise and continually needs to be challenged with higher loads to grow stronger.  For cycling training there are many ways this can be achieved:

a. Increase the load (power) during your interval workout. Do the same number of intervals and sets each week, but increase your power.  e.g. instead of 2x15@ L3/L4 do 2x15@ L4

b. Increase the number of intervals. Use the same power for each interval workout, but increase the number of intervals each week.  e.g. instead of 4x3@ L5 do 8x3@ L5.

c.  Increase the number of sets each time you workout.  e.g. instead of 2x10x30s @ L6 do 3x10x30s @ L6

d.  Shorten the rest between the sets.  e.g. instead of a 5RI use 3RI.

e.  Lengthen the time under tension - or how long your muscle fibers are under stress. Instead of doing 5 hill repeats of 3 minutes ea., find a hill where you can do 5 hill repeats of 4 minutes ea.

My entire coaching philosophy revolves around this principle of "progressive power training" because it works.  As I said earlier, it's been around forever.  I used "progressive resistance" training ever since I picked up my first weight in 7th grade and started weight training (that's almost 40 yrs. ago).  I've been using this principle for the last 3 yrs. of my coaching business because I've seen my athletes improve FASTER than any other coached or non-coached cyclist.  That is, the ones that follow my Annual Training Plan (ATP).  (Trust me, just because someone hires a coach doesn't mean they follow the plan given to them.  I think some people hire a coach because they think there is some magic workout out there that is going to turn them from a Cat 5 to a Cat 1 racer in one season.  You may laugh, but it's true!)  The ones that don't follow the plan- "religiously", will NOT see results.  Well, they may see some results but not the ones they could be seeing.

Developing an ATP utilizing the progressive power training methodology takes a lot of work. It's both an art and science setting up and constantly adjusting it throughout the year.  It's a dynamic plan.  That's probably the primary reason why I only take on 5-6 athletes per takes time (something I don't have a lot of with work and my own training).  Following it is even harder, it takes a lot of patience, dedication and perserverence.  The workouts start out relatively easy so the athlete must be patient and not want to jump into a hard workout too soon.  Then the workouts increase in intensity.  Some workouts are true "ballbusters"- workouts that you definitely want to quit on.  Later on in the plan, the workouts increase in both intensity and volume.  A healthy mix of interval workouts withing the ATP makes the plan both fun and obtainable.  The best part is that the ATP can be followed either inside on the trainer or outside.  I prefer inside on the trainer because it's easier to be more consistent and follow the workout.

Lastly, as with all training plans, you must routinely test yourself to ensure that the ATP is working.  A lot of times, adjustments are periodically needed to the plan (either increasing loads or decreasing loads) to maximize training.  Yeah, I know, tests aren't fun- they hurt (if you do em correctly), but they're vital. 

Oh yeah, and PLEASE be patient.  You're NOT going to see improvements in power over night with ANY plan.  It may take months before you notice a strength/power increase.  Everybody is different.  But, if you stick with WILL see an improvement.  Trust me!  I prescribe to the same plan I give my athletes and it DOES work...even on an old body like mine. :)

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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