This is what my week looks like.
Whew! I get tired just looking at it 😀
This time of year, I spin and weight train indoors, and let the bikes rest. This first mesocycle is designed to build a base, and strength the cycling muscles. I use a Keiser M3 spinning bike with a built in power meter, and heart rate monitor to work on my cardio fitness. And, I use the Atlantis plate-loaded strength equipment for leg press, hamstring curls and extensions, and core exercises to strengthen the cycling-specific muscles.
Every month I prepare a training plan, and post a copy inside of my gym locker. The plan is based on several specific tests so that I can dial in the intensity and duration of the workouts. At the end of each month, I re-test, and then adjust the composition, intensity, and duration of the workouts. Notice that as I complete each workout, I mark it with a 👍. When I have 28 👍recorded, it’s time to take an extra recovery day, and then re-test.
I workout indoors for 90 minutes, 6-7 days per week, spinning for 45-60 minutes, and afterward lift heavy loads for another 30 minutes. That’s 4.5-6 hours of spinning , and 3 hours of weight training every week. The spinning sessions are varied. I complete 3 endurance, 1 lactate threshold, 1 VO2 Max, and 2 recovery workouts every week. And, I alternate between heavy leg, and core specific workouts.
For some, this may be too intensive, or time consuming. I certainly didn’t start at this level. It has taken me many years to understand my capabilities, and appropriate training methods. As my fitness, and cycling skills, improved, I began demanding more of myself, and subsequently, my workouts. As the milder, dryer weather approaches, I shift outside on the road bikes, but that is for another post.
For many years, I didn’t know how hard, or long to train. I train with a heart rate monitor but never correctly estimated my maximum heart rate (MHR), and as you know, this is necessary to set training zones. If I used the traditional method of subtracting age from 220, I felt like I was under-training. I felt like I could worker harder. A lot harder.
This held me back for years.
Now, I understand that the traditional calculation is inaccurate for many, and as Joe Friel points out, intensive workouts at or near your MHR, are in fact beneficial. So, where do you begin? How do you determine your MHR, and at what heart rate, or power levels do you need to workout at?
For starters, do not use the traditional calculation.
Instead, I complete the 3-minute aerobic test. It estimates both my Maximum Minute Power (MMP) and Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). The test is used by experienced cyclist at the start of a training plan to set baseline performance figures.
The test is simple.
Ride at a the fastest pace and power level you can sustain for 3 minutes. I prefer to do the test on the Keiser spinning bike. It is more controlled, and displays both power and heart rate measurements.
There are other fitness tests but at this stage I prefer the 3-minute test once a month to monitor my progress. It’s quick, easy (😀), and for me, accurate.
When I know my Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), and Maximum Minute Power (MMP), I input them into the wattbike training zones calculator that outlines appropriate training zones providing both heart rate and power ranges for each zone. I then tape these ranges on my locker door, water bottle, and bike stem for easy reference.
This becomes my baseline.
I begin workouts at the low end of each range, and as I progress through the month, I gradually increase the intensity until I am completing workouts at the high end of each range. This week I have noticed that I am completing the workouts at the high end of the power ranges, and the low end of the heart rate range. This means I am able to complete the workout with less effort, and that I am ready to dial up the intensity a notch.
Whew! I get tired just thinking about it 😀
The more I increase my training load, the more I focus on recovery. In the next post, I will outline the role of nutrition and sleep.