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Training Bible Studies with Joe and Dirk Friel – When time is your biggest limiter

By Joe Friel and Dirk Friel

Dear Joe and Dirk,
Mine has to be a pretty common problem. With work, kids, a job, a mortgage… well you know the drill. When it gets down to it, I can really only ride maybe three days a week for two hours max. Some weeks it is only two days with one of the rides being on the trainer.

With such minimal training time, should I spend a larger percentage of my time doing hard riding (intervals, etc) since I am less likely to over-train? How should you adjust the time spent in each zone when you have more than adequate recovery time?

You are not uncommon and trying to get the most out of your six hours a week is shared by many athletes. The percentage of time spent on high quality workouts is very important in your case.

Make sure each workout you attempt has a purpose. Make the most of the time available. This means really getting to know your limiters and the most effective methods to improve them. You might even need to combine different types of workouts into one ride. For example you might combine a bike force workout with speed/skills work to address two abilities.

Objectivity and focused efforts are the key ingredients. Training with power is one of the best ways to make the most of your time, create objective goals, record progress, and program realistic intensity levels. A power-meter when put to use in a structured environment can drastically improve the effectiveness of a training program, as compared to just “shooting in the dark” with speed and distance measurements. Power-based training along with heart rate feedback is a very powerful method of managing any cycling program.

You also ask about recovery within your lifestyle. Try to program in the workouts when you know you are at your best physically. It doesn’t make much sense to train hard when you are fatigued. When you do have to get in a key workout when you are tired you will most likely need to cut the efforts short and make the most of the condition you are in at that time. Don’t rush fitness to much as the risk of injury rises as well.

Hope this gives you some ideas and good luck this season,
Joe and Dirk Friel

Squats, pain and some gain
Dear Joe
I am a 41-year-old cyclist and have been following “The Training Bible” (forgive the pun) religiously since November.

Unfortunately, I am having problems doing squats in “Strength Maintenance” period, which you recommend for cyclists over 40. One visit to the weight room each week seems like it’s not enough, as I experience mild strained quadriceps for two to three days after the squats. Of course, the strain then compromises my on-bike training.

I experienced no strained quadriceps during the “Maximum Strength” period, when I was going to the weight room two to three times each week and squatting heavier weights.

So it appears that the less frequent visits to the weight room prescribed in the Strength Maintenance period have exposed my body’s tendency to rapidly lose strength in my quadriceps. This does not surprise me as in the past when I have started up squats after extended layoffs, my quadriceps have always been very slow to adapt to even light loads, while the other muscle groups experience no such difficulty.

This weakness necessitated very low weights for the beginning of the “Anatomical Adaptation” period. For example, in my early sessions I would have to use squat weights as light as 65 pounds to avoid serious quadricep strains. With much patience and consistency, I was able to increase my Maximum Strength period squat weights to 1.5 times my body weight, which seems reasonable. Once again, my other muscle groups do not experience this problem, just my quadriceps. I would simply drop the legwork from the Strength Maintenance period, but for the fact that I have experienced noticeable gains in leg strength.

Consequently, I am considering performing two Strength Maintenance sessions per week through the Base 3 and Build periods, and only eliminating them during the Peak and Race periods. Have you ever heard of someone who loses strength so quickly as to make once-per-week weight session too infrequent?

Is it likely that twice-a-week sessions will affect an overall lower fitness if I continue them through the Build periods? I actually enjoy the squat sessions, but am wondering if I should just drop the squats till next fall and make the legwork a part of the winter routine only.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
GregDear Greg,
I can see how for some people lifting only once a week can leave them sore and not able to perform high quality bike workouts. If force is your limiter I would try and stick with lifting as long as possible through the season and maybe not lift, as you suggest, during the peak and race phases.If lifting once per week really leaves your quads sore due to the squats, maybe try adding one other very light strength day per weak where you do fewer lifts such as step-ups and a few easy exercises at home with hand-held weights. By adding one day of step-ups you might be able to maintain strength better in your quads so that the squats once per weak don’t leave you as sore and fatigued.Hope this helps and good luck,
Joe and Dirk Friel

Joe Friel is the author of “TheCyclist’s Training bible.” Dirk Friel is a co-founder of TrainingBible.comand coaches along with Joe at Ultrafit Associates. For more informationon coaching and training software please visit www.Ultrafit.comand www.TrainingBible.com.If you have questions for this column, please send them to veloquestions@ultrafit.com

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