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  1. #1
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    How to increase power output over long distances?

    I recently had the opportunity to participate in a cycling study to determine the effects of caffeine on performance. Anyhow, one of the benefits of this study is that i get access to alot of numbers that I wouldnt beable to get otherwise.

    First I had a VO2 max test.

    I scored 64.2 which is considered decent. My lactate threshold was at 73% of my VO2 max and I maxed out at 400 watts (cadence of 95 rpm). This wattage is not my absolute max, but the max i can sustain in hte VO2 max test. My buddy who races midfield expert (i race midfield sport) scored 71 on the vo2 max, and maxed out at 475 watts.

    The doctor said my VO2 max was excellent, but what separates me from the guys who win races is the power output. So my question is, how do i increase my LT and power output. Ive been doing interval training for awhile and my hill climbs have improved tremendously. But what would I have to do to improve overall power, over say a 1.5hr duration.

    The only thing I can think of, is just pushing harder during training rides. But is there a structured training plan that would focus in this department?

    Any suggestions are appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Intervals like you are already doing is correct. Other than that these things just take more time and training. Also, some people are just more powerful than others and sometimes no amount of training can overcome that.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by superlightracer
    I recently had the opportunity to participate in a cycling study to determine the effects of caffeine on performance. Anyhow, one of the benefits of this study is that i get access to alot of numbers that I wouldnt beable to get otherwise.

    First I had a VO2 max test.

    I scored 64.2 which is considered decent. My lactate threshold was at 73% of my VO2 max and I maxed out at 400 watts (cadence of 95 rpm). This wattage is not my absolute max, but the max i can sustain in hte VO2 max test. My buddy who races midfield expert (i race midfield sport) scored 71 on the vo2 max, and maxed out at 475 watts.

    The doctor said my VO2 max was excellent, but what separates me from the guys who win races is the power output. So my question is, how do i increase my LT and power output. Ive been doing interval training for awhile and my hill climbs have improved tremendously. But what would I have to do to improve overall power, over say a 1.5hr duration.

    The only thing I can think of, is just pushing harder during training rides. But is there a structured training plan that would focus in this department?

    Any suggestions are appreciated.
    **note** Morris devotee here so take with a grain of salt **

    Do you know the story of Mari Holden. Her VO2 max tested at one of the highest levels ever seen by Dave Morris at the Olympic training center in 1993. However, her MSPO (maximum sustainable power output) was far below average for elite women cyclists. Her results showed this. Under Dean Golich's block training philosophy her MSPO increased over 60w in 18 months. She went on to win national time trial titles and a silver in the Olympics.

    The Morris training philosophy is designed around building higher MSPO. It is a periodized phased plan where each step builds upon the previous one to increase MSPO. The plan relies heavily on a cycling specific periodized strength training combined with short intervals and then longer intervals. The endurance phase is significantly shorter than typical cycling plans and also includes sprints/lead out intervals.

    You can read some of my experiences here:
    http://ashwinearl.blogspot.com/2005/...index-and.html

    The Morris book is a good place to start to get an idea of what a cycling specific periodized plan looks like, but note that the book won't provide a cookie cutter plan. It will take some effort on your part to customize it to your life. Also note that the training philosophies presented differ from other training programs and are subject to much debate.

    Other books to look at are Friel and Single Track Mind.

    There are tons of cycling coaches out there:
    http://www.bicyclecoach.com/

    Personally, I think it's well worth the money to work with a coach when starting out so that you can learn the basics of a periodized cycling plan.

    Morris, Friel, or anything in between. With a plan you believe in, and consitent work/rest you'll improve significantly.
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  4. #4
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    intensity training levels

    My advice: do intervals with zone 4 intensity (threshold intensity) for 15-20 mins per interval, and do intervals with zone 5 intensity (vo2 max intensity) for 3-5 mins per interval. Obviously, the time of season, your recovery rates, and lots of other personal factors will help determine how often during the week and how many intervals you do during a particular workout.

    Also, for a very, very, very valuable explanation of zone training intensity levels and what is happening at each level physiologically and how to determine your zones, written by a well-known cycling exercise physiologist, see this link: http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/power411/levels.asp I re-read that web web on occasion because there is so much there to absorb and reconsider. This link is not really a specific training method/plan, but it is an explanation of zone training and its associated physiology--zone training (whether measured by heart rate or power) is used by nearly all coaches.

    Finally, Morris / Golich methods (cited by another poster) are not universally used/accepted by exercise physiologists and coaches, but I have the Morris book and I generally think that following Morris' method can only help most of us. In general, Morris is a bit different because he generally advocates doing a block of zone 5 type workouts before a block of zone 4 type of workouts. Most advocate the opposite. In my view, your personal limitors and your goals and your recovery rates should dictate what types of workouts you are doing and when.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
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    Raw strength is the basis for all other types of physical attributes. Think of it this way - raw strength is like a glass and your power and power endurance are like the liquid you poor into the glass. Once the glass is full you can not add any more to it, you must instead concentrate on getting a bigger glass.

    Let me also point out that getting stronger and more powerful have nothing to do with building bigger muscles so don't worry about that. Getting stronger is literally teaching your body how to recruit more muscle fibers that it already has instead of trying to simply get bigger muscles. It is also about increasing your efficiency at the movement pattern so that more of your efforts are going to the movement and not being "leaked" in other ways. This higher motor unit recruitment potential coupled with less energy being wasted will lead to more power potential and the ability to increase your power endurance through intervals as well.

    Get stronger and you'll get more out of your intervals. BTW, a good strength training program with short rest periods will act as an interval type stimulus (your cardio system does not care if this stimulus is coming from bike rides or strength training). By adding to your anaerobic fitness level through strength training you can help avoid the pattern overload injuries seen in a lot of riders who do all of their cardio conditioning on the bike.

    Learn how to deadlift, get to where you can pull 1.5 to 2 times your bodyweight and you'll be shocked at how much faster you'll become and how much longer you can sustain that speed. As an added bonus you'll also become more injury resistant by strengthening the posterior chain and balancing out the imbalances cycling causes.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
    BikeJames.com

  6. #6
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    Tempo or time trial road rides.

    Superlight.
    Don't know if you use a road bike or ride much on roads, but I found that doing early season training on road rides greatly improved my overall tempo power. I moved up from the bottom quarter of my race sport category to mid-pack after about 1 year of road riding mixed in with my mountain bike riding. I found that road riding trained my legs better to maintain constant torque on the pedals, especially when doing a tempo workout on flatish to rolling terrain.
    If you already use a road bike for extensive training, then the choices are more complicated to improve.
    SUCCESS - To be able to spend life in your own way

  7. #7
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    weight lifting . . . . more to consider . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Strength Coach
    Raw strength is the basis for all other types of physical attributes. . . . .

    Let me also point out that getting stronger and more powerful have nothing to do with building bigger muscles so don't worry about that. . . .

    Learn how to deadlift, get to where you can pull 1.5 to 2 times your bodyweight and you'll be shocked at how much faster you'll become and how much longer you can sustain that speed. As an added bonus you'll also become more injury resistant by strengthening the posterior chain and balancing out the imbalances cycling causes.

    (1) On the "raw strength" point: Let me start by saying I advocate weight training for many of my coaching clients, but I am not a weight lifting guru or enthusiast. I suspect that I have a different point of view than the person I quoted above. OK, now that you understand a little of where I am coming from:

    I feel that weight lifting can/should be a part of many cyclists' annual training plans. In particular, I think weight training will be more important for the gravity folks than the XC racing folks--the original poster was talking about XC race distances. But, in my view, weight training is not the most effective way to get faster on the bike over long periods. And the original poster wanted to get faster over longer periods. In general, on the bike intervals are more effective for that than weight training.

    Here's a quote from the Australian nationla track strength and conditioning coach. I took it from a much longer post, and here's a link to the longer post:
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/showthr...17#post2306917
    In the longer post, she goes into detail about weight training for the track sprint events, and then she has this to say about the track endurance events:
    "Weight training for enduros - the same strategies apply but maximal strength and power are less critical. All endurance riding, even the bunch sprint at the end, is really submaximal. A little bit of gym regularly helps to maintain the structural integrity of the body, prevent imbalances and prepare you for crashes, but the real gains come on the road. Racing is the best training. All our best track enduros race on the road in Europe. They come together for camps to touch up their track skills, but all of that was learnt as juniors and in domestic track racing on the way up. For strength endurance on the bike, ride up hills in the saddle on bigger gears. That was the only strength work out team pursuit did for the last three years and they won everything there was to win with a bucket load of world records to boot. Incidentally, they are also the fastest starters."

    I find the above quote interesting/telling because you basically have a cycling weight training specialist/guru advocating little to no weight room type of weight training for endurance cyclists.

    (2) On the issue of "bigger muscles" (i.e. hypertrophy) v. neurological adaptions issue: IMO, most of the lifts (angles, velocities, etc.) in the weight room are not specific enough to cycling so that the neurological adaptions (the adaptations that do not involve hypertrophy) in the weight room will effectively transfer to increased power on the bike. In other words, if your leg press weight increases by 25% over a certain period (let's assume the increase is NOT from hypertrophy), your on the bike power generally will not increase by a similar amount (in fact, there may be no increase or even a decrease in the bike power). This happens to tons of cyclists every off-season: they can lift a lot more after the off-season, but their power gains on the bike (when measured with a power meter) are minimal despite dramatic increases in the amount they can lift in the weight room. Here's a very interesting statement on this issue from a fairly well-respected cycling exercise physiologist: http://home.earthlink.net/~acoggan/misc/id4.html

    (3) On deadlifts: I agree that deadlifts can be useful for many cyclists, especially for gravity folks that need to come hard out of the gate from a dead stop. Having a strong core/back is a foundation for the pedal stroke. Again, however, for XC folks, the gains here generally will not be the kind of gains that take you to a new level for a 1.5 hour XC race.

    In general, IMO, weight lifting is an important, but small, part of the puzzle of how to get faster on the bike.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by millennium
    (1) On the "raw strength" point: Let me start by saying I advocate weight training for many of my coaching clients, but I am not a weight lifting guru or enthusiast. I suspect that I have a different point of view than the person I quoted above. OK, now that you understand a little of where I am coming from:

    I feel that weight lifting can/should be a part of many cyclists' annual training plans. In particular, I think weight training will be more important for the gravity folks than the XC racing folks--the original poster was talking about XC race distances. But, in my view, weight training is not the most effective way to get faster on the bike over long periods. And the original poster wanted to get faster over longer periods. In general, on the bike intervals are more effective for that than weight training.

    Here's a quote from the Australian nationla track strength and conditioning coach. I took it from a much longer post, and here's a link to the longer post:
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/showthr...17#post2306917
    In the longer post, she goes into detail about weight training for the track sprint events, and then she has this to say about the track endurance events:
    "Weight training for enduros - the same strategies apply but maximal strength and power are less critical. All endurance riding, even the bunch sprint at the end, is really submaximal. A little bit of gym regularly helps to maintain the structural integrity of the body, prevent imbalances and prepare you for crashes, but the real gains come on the road. Racing is the best training. All our best track enduros race on the road in Europe. They come together for camps to touch up their track skills, but all of that was learnt as juniors and in domestic track racing on the way up. For strength endurance on the bike, ride up hills in the saddle on bigger gears. That was the only strength work out team pursuit did for the last three years and they won everything there was to win with a bucket load of world records to boot. Incidentally, they are also the fastest starters."

    I find the above quote interesting/telling because you basically have a cycling weight training specialist/guru advocating little to no weight room type of weight training for endurance cyclists.

    (2) On the issue of "bigger muscles" (i.e. hypertrophy) v. neurological adaptions issue: IMO, most of the lifts (angles, velocities, etc.) in the weight room are not specific enough to cycling so that the neurological adaptions (the adaptations that do not involve hypertrophy) in the weight room will effectively transfer to increased power on the bike. In other words, if your leg press weight increases by 25% over a certain period (let's assume the increase is NOT from hypertrophy), your on the bike power generally will not increase by a similar amount (in fact, there may be no increase or even a decrease in the bike power). This happens to tons of cyclists every off-season: they can lift a lot more after the off-season, but their power gains on the bike (when measured with a power meter) are minimal despite dramatic increases in the amount they can lift in the weight room. Here's a very interesting statement on this issue from a fairly well-respected cycling exercise physiologist: http://home.earthlink.net/~acoggan/misc/id4.html

    (3) On deadlifts: I agree that deadlifts can be useful for many cyclists, especially for gravity folks that need to come hard out of the gate from a dead stop. Having a strong core/back is a foundation for the pedal stroke. Again, however, for XC folks, the gains here generally will not be the kind of gains that take you to a new level for a 1.5 hour XC race.

    In general, IMO, weight lifting is an important, but small, part of the puzzle of how to get faster on the bike.
    Thanks for the insight, although I have to respectfully disagree on most of it.

    First, I never said that weightlifting was the best, I just pointed out that at a certain point you must get stronger if you want your intervals to do more for you. Get strong, use intervals to get faster, repeat. You simply can not argue with the fact that lack of strength will limit your power and power endurance potential.

    Think of it this way - performance should be viewed as a pyramid (I stole this from Gray Cook and his Athletic Body in Balance book). The base of that pyramid is basic functional movement which ties into injury prevention. The middle layer is your basic physical attributes like strength and power. The tip of that pyramid is your specific sports skills and conditioning training, like inervals for increasing specific bike power endurance. If either of the first 2 levels is lacking or incomplete then your tip of the pyramid simply won't be as strong as it could be. In addition, if you find that your tip of the pyramid training is not delivering the results you are looking for then you should re-examine the first 2 levels and make sure that they are where they need to be. Often times they are not as most athletes and coaches want to get right to the "good stuff" and spend way to much time too early on working on specific sport skills and conditioning.

    Also, if your body is out of balance then it simply will not allow itself to get too much more out of balance and you could be being held back by that imbalance. In this case, strength training can help restore that balance and let you tap into more of your potential. For these reasons the thought process that leads one to believe that strength training is more important for the gravity set is an extremely narrow and short sighted one.

    Again, you must ride fast to get faster and doing only weight training will not get you faster in itself, but an athlete that incorporates both will do better than one that does not.

    Second, leg presses are worthless exercises for MTB riders. Don't misconstrue the fact that they are worthless with strength being worthless. Body part splits, machines (which the leg press is one), isolation exercises and linear periodization are all antiquated training methods that deliver little for the MTB rider. This is why most MTB riders, especially the XC set, have written strength training off. It is because most of the advice being given was flat out wrong. Please talk to an athlete that gets 25% stronger on their deadlift and see if they have the same conclusion that they are not faster and can lay down more raw power.

    Third, deadlifts are indespinsable for every rider. Get to where you can deadlift 1.5-2 times your bodyweight and then tell me that it does not help you on a 1.5 hour XC ride. The increased torso strength will help stave off lower back fatigue, the stronger platform and more efficient movement pattern will mean less energy being expended on every pedal stroke and the muscle balance the deadlift gives the XC rider will mean less chance of a pattern overload injury, meaning more time in the saddle and more consistent training.

    Lastly, remeber that nothing fails like success....just because things have been done a certain way does not mean that they are the best way to do it. In fact, a lot of elite athletes succeed despite their training, not because of it. For example, just 10 years ago you would find a lot of golf players jogging countless miles and doing little strength training to get into shape. Looking back on the history books there were some pretty amazing accomplishments by these athletes,so this must be the best way to train, right? Wrong...as our understanding of the human body advanced some strength coaches were willing to take a stand. Today, most golf players do far more weight room stuff and far less aerobic training and the level of play today speaks for itself. The MTB world is poised on that same cusp...you can either evolve or succumb to the eventual "survival of the fittest".

    Strength training offers a lot to the MTB athlete, no matter what their discipline. For some reason the MTB world has been extremely slow to pick up on this, much to it's detriment I might add. Strength coaches such as Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove and many others have ushered in a whole new understanding of performance based training and my application of their methods to the MTB world is a first as far as I can tell. It is my mission to help bring this to the MTB world and hopefully help my fellow riders gain a new understanding and appreciation of what adding this often missing element can do for them.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
    BikeJames.com

  9. #9
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    largely agree -- what to emphasize?

    [QUOTE=MTB Strength Coach]Thanks for the insight, although I have to respectfully disagree on most of it.

    First, I never said that weightlifting was the best, I just pointed out that at a certain point you must get stronger if you want your intervals to do more for you. Get strong, use intervals to get faster, repeat. You simply can not argue with the fact that lack of strength will limit your power and power endurance potential.

    Strength training offers a lot to the MTB athlete, no matter what their discipline. QUOTE]

    I appreciate James's clarification that strength training is not "the best" for the original poster--we agree there. In addition, I generally agree that strength training has an important place for XC MTB racers.

    However, I would venture a guess that many exercise physiologists and many cycling coaches would indeed "argue with the fact that lack of strength will limit your power and power endurance potential." I'm not really one of the anti-strength training folks, but I lean a bit that way based upon my own study of physiology and the published studies and based on my years of personal experiences with many cyclists who have done various and many types of strength training. The anti-strength trainers would tell us that the forces while pedaling a bike in an XC race are simply not even close to maximal forces, and that the forces while XC cycling are produced through aerobic energy pathways. They would say, in other words, that the size of your muscle cells and the number of muscle cells recruited while pedaling are not what's keeping most people from pedaling harder; rather, the ability of the muscle cells to produce energy aerobically is the limiter for most cyclists. I have a hard time disagreeing with that. I think James is pointing out that at some point, the strength becomes a limiter. I'm not as sure as he is on that point. It's one of those issues that very experienced folks tend to disagree about, and I try to pay attention to trends and new ideas.

    One final thing, the Australian national track coach loves the leg press - single leg version with explosive movement (see the link that I posted above). So, as you can see, very experienced folks tend to disagree about these things.

    Anyway, over and out for me.
    Last edited by millennium; 11-14-2006 at 03:36 PM.

  10. #10
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    [/QUOTE]
    However, I would venture a guess that many exercise physiologists and many cycling coaches would indeed "argue with the fact that lack of strength will limit your power and power endurance potential." I'm not really one of the anti-strength training folks, but I lean a bit that way based upon my own study of physiology and the published studies and based on my years of personal experiences with many cyclists who have done various and many types of strength training. The anti-strength trainers would tell us that the forces while pedaling a bike in an XC race are simply not even close to maximal forces, and that the forces while XC cycling are produced through aerobic energy pathways. They would say, in other words, that the size of your muscle cells and the number of muscle cells recruited while pedaling are not what's keeping most people from pedaling harder; rather, the ability of the muscle cells to produce energy aerobically is the limiter for most cyclists. I have a hard time disagreeing with that. I think James is pointing out that at some point, the strength becomes a limiter. I'm not as sure as he is on that point. It's one of those issues that very experienced folks tend to disagree about, and I try to pay attention to trends and new ideas.

    One final thing, the Australian national track coach loves the leg press - single leg version with explosive movement (see the link that I posted above). So, as you can see, very experienced folks tend to disagree about these things.

    Anyway, over and out for me.[/QUOTE]

    The aurguement that cycling is a sub-max sport and therefore would not benefit greatly from strength training is interesting...can anyone tell me of a sport (besides powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting) that is one? Even football is a sub max sport and no one would say that football players do not benefit from strength training. Is golf a max output sport? Or baseball? Or soccer? All of these sports have recognized what a good strength training program can do for them and have adopted programs specific to their sport. Again, this is the problem. Most of the advice given to XC riders is influenced by road riding (such as your constant reference to a track coach's insights) and bodybuilding (such as your reference to the leg press as an exercise MTB riders have used). This wrong advice is to blaim for the lack of results seen by XC riders, not strength training itself.

    Roadies, and especially track riders, can get into and maintain a pace much easier than MTB riders can. MTB riders require much more upper body strength and the ability to deal with more anaerobic bursts. This is absolutely absurd....we are a sport unto ourselves. You don't see roadies looking to us for training advice and programs, why are we looking to them?

    Lastly, the leg press is absolutely worthless and any coach that prescribes it is doing an extreme disservice to their athletes and I don't care who they are. Leg press has you sit down and brace your back against something which artificially strengthens the torso in order to better overload the legs. This is a bodybuilding concept since they don't need to be strong, they just need big muscles. On our bikes we are only as strong as the platform we can create in order to create force from and that platform is our core. Any exercise that artificially strengthens our core in order to better overload the limbs has no place in our programs. This is why cyclists who have spent time in the off season developing strength on this worthless hunk of metal show little or no improvement in their power output...they have actually weakened their core and can no longer brace it hard enough to produce more force from. And no, "core specific" exercises will not bridge that gap.

    Again, blind faith to outdated dogma has severly retarded the progression of MTB strength training programs.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
    BikeJames.com

  11. #11
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    Thanks very much


    Again, blind faith to outdated dogma has severly retarded the progression of MTB strength training programs.[/QUOTE]

    For your input. I primarily roadbike. However, I do share the desire to become stronger and faster than I was before.

    About a month ago, I was involved in a heated debate on the roadbike review training board. The short version: I very much advocate weights; however, many of the old school posters (those with 1000+ feedback) had their beliefs ossified because their idols never weight-trained. Rather sad that these so-called experts have become little more than chat-room gurus when they still have room for improvement on the bike.

    I'll be sure to include deadlifts into my weight sessions. I'm the type of roadie that wins group rides or races by not getting dropped on the climbs and outpowering on the final sprints. This, of course, requires me to pull hard on the drops and hammer the pedals in a violent symphony of power and speed.

    I do respectfully submit that leg presses has helped me greatly when I'm in the saddle and in a big gear.

    Thanks again.

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