Now that truth and precision are available in power measurement, the aspiring cyclist is able to actively iprove, just like the Olympic athletes do from one year to the next.
In our last article, we gave the secret of “Make your easy easier and your hard harder”. Now, we want to focus on the harder.
We broke the 7 zone model into three zones and today we are going to focus on our new exercise zone, which is everything between zone three and six inclusive. The names from the chart don’t matter. They really are quite irrelevant.
Assuming that you have been doing the endurance training and are well and truly ready for some hard work, we want to ask the question, “What parts of my physiology need training?” Then our simple answer is probably something like our pedalling speed and our strength.
Both of these things really matter. If you can pedal harder, faster, then you will move the bike further more quickly. And cadence (pedalling speed) and force together equal watts or power.
That leads to two simple concepts in training. We want to be able to do our exercises with slower cadence and more force and also with faster cadence and less force. Both of these exercises with all their variations are what you have to do to complete a Granfondo or win a race.
The other thing that we want to do is not quite as self evident. We do not want to train in zones at all. We want to train to as narrow a number as possible. Let me say that again – we don’t train in wide zones, but we train to a number. The range of power numbers in the above chart for our exercise are between 200 and 312 watts. Your exercises should be set so that you self regulate anywhere within that range for the given exercise. You want to be able to do the complete exercise that is set for you without losing it and having your cadence or force decline and preferably getting stronger throughout.
So lets say that in this exercise, we are going to focus on leg strength. That means that we overweight force compared to cadence – so the exercise stipulates, say 70rpm. If the target is 3 x 15 minutes of exercises, your job is to find the power number that allows you to do all three of those exercises without faltering.
You may say that you want your coach to tell you what number to do. However, we believe that learning what number you can do is a very important skill for you as a cyclist. It is really easy to pick on your upload. If the adjusted power number is declining throughout the exercises and the last one is weaker than the first, then it just happens that you went too hard. Drop down a little next time. Make it a game – what number can I actually do those exercises at? – focus and do it. Shorter exercises with higher power number and longer exercises with lower numbers. If your performance drops during the exercises, give yourself a thumbs down.
Of course, if the aim of the exercise is to lift Heart Rate and have the legs just flow, then a higher cadence effort may be called for. However, you may have the same power number, just a different physiological response.
The neat thing about thinking this way is that your are always doing your exercises full on. However, full on for 1 minute and full on for 45 minutes are totally different numbers. Full on for 10 times one minute is also different to 5 x 1 minute. Not only are you now back in charge of your training exercises, but you also rule in your improvement.