Originally published at: https://fascatcoaching.com/tips/off-season-training-for-cyclists/
This Fall, for those of your with big goals and aspirations, NOW is the time to develop a game plan and start training. Right now cyclists have a huge opportunity to begin their off season training to take their performance to the next level in 2017-2018. Here is our description of ON (off) season training for cyclists because there is no off season for better results next year.
As coaches, we look forward to the offseason because it is a time when we can work on athletes’ weaknesses without having to worry about their performance in upcoming races. As a result, we can start with the basics and methodically take athletes thru a 4-6 month offseason training program that elevates their performance. There’s a saying “the offseason is where you can make the greatest gains” and we couldn’t agree more.
The goal of our offseason training program is to increase the athlete’s power at threshold and race-specific power outputs. Our offseason training program is divided into 5 phases that as a whole are much greater than the sum of the parts. To measure improvement we test at the beginning of the offseason and right before the first race with expectations of a 3-20% increase in power at threshold.
The 5 Annual Training Plan Phase are
1. Annual Training Program (ATP) (planning)
2. Fall Foundation, Aerobic Endurance & Muscle Tension Intervals, 3 week $29 Plan HERE
3. Resistance Training: 10 Week, 4 Phase, Cycling Specific, 6 week $49 Plan HERE
4. Sweet Spot: building a “Hemi-Powered Aerobic Engine”, 6 week $49 Plan HERE
5. Sweet Spot Part 2, 6 week $49 Plan HERE
6. Sweet Spot Part 3, 6 week $49 Plan HERE
7. Race Specific Intervals, 6 week $49 Interval Plans HERE
For more information about the FasCat Off-Season Program, please read the descriptions below.
1. Annual Training Program (ATP)
The image above is an example of an Annual Training Plan in TrainingPeaks that we develop for our athletes. This is the 10,000-foot view that outlines goals, when the 5 phases will occur, outlines testing, “A” races, a big picture race program, & a conceptual view to the athlete’s periodization during “base”. Notice how all 5 phases are color coded to the week and month they’ll occur.
We call this a worksheet because it is a work in progress, its fluid and may be changed. Goal setting is a process, often times an athlete’s race program is ironed out by late February here in Colorado. Earlier for warmer weather states such as California, Texas, & Arizona. We use the ATP to stay focused as the coach & athlete designing training programs in 4-week blocks.
2. Fall Foundation, Aerobic Endurance
The Fall time frame is an opportunity to work on one’s weaknesses and carry a level of fitness into the winter months. It may be a time to start losing weight, ride a fixed gear or get in some big rides before the winter forces many of us indoors. For some athletes cyclocross racing may be used for training. We also use this time for muscle endurance work in the form of Muscle Tension Intervals aka MTi’s. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that this is a time where our coaches are creative with training and flexibility is key. Compared to the Spring, training is relaxed and low key. Our coaches tend to stay away from intervals and instead encourage fun group rides, riding from the bottom to top of various climbs, “Strava Hunting”, and so forth. If the athlete is a ‘roadie’ he or she may be encouraged to mountain bike or to dabble in cyclocross racing. If an athlete’s climate dictates short rides over the winter, we will use the Fall as a time to ‘get fit’ so as to carry a significant amount of adaptations into the winter months. For those familiar with TSTWKT we will raise the athlete’s Chronic Training Load (CTL), prescribe a regeneration block and test at the end of the block to set an off season power at threshold (FTP) benchmark.
For our athletes that are severely affected by daylight savings (Sunday November 1st, 2015) we will often schedule the Fall Foundation to end just prior to daylight savings so that the next block of training (Resistance Training) occurs in the gym where daylight is not a factor.
3. Resistance Training, 10 weeks & 4 Phases: Cycling Specific
Adaptation > Hypertrophy > Strength > Power with the last two phases coupled to on the bike neuromuscular work. Anyone can lift weights but our 10 week cycling specific resistance training program is speed specific and therefore effective for improving power output on the bike. We also use this time to work on muscle imbalances, core strength and flexibility.
We work with our athletes to time the resistance training program to overlap with the worst weather riding months. Its important to remember that resistance training is not for everyone and we interview our athletes carefully before recommending the training.
If you want to improve your sprint, climbing, ability to attack & counterattack – to be explosive, then our resistance training program is the place to start. Read more about ours here.
4. Advanced Aerobic Endurance: “Base”: building a “Hemi-Powered Aerobic Engine”
We take the traditional ‘piles of miles’ and use power based training & metrics to help you make the most out of your time to train. After all, who’s got 12 hours or more a week to train like the pro’s? Our training approach uses Tempo & Sweet Spot methodologies to raise CTL (Chronic Training Load) within the athletes time limits. We spend a significant amount of time determining the athlete’s work & family schedules to create a balanced and productive training plan.
During the work week, Monday thru Fridays (for those of us with traditional 9 to 5 careers) we focus on shorter, highly focused advanced aerobic endurance workouts. On the weekends, we work with our athletes to find group & team rides for endurance work. During the “Base” Phase we use every creative trick in the book to plan out the best custom training program for each athlete we work with.
5. Pre-Season Interval Work to Increase Race Specific Power Output
This is the final phase of the off season where we dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s. By this time frame we have identified what kind of races and events the athlete will compete in and we prescribe intervals to increase their ability to make power for the durations specific to performing well in those events. Aka race winning power output. We employ a race specific interval training program to take athletes to their next level. For those with powermeters, these are the workouts we’ll monitor closely to measure improvement and stay on top of fatigue.
As an example, for athletes who’s goals involve criteriums we’ll work heavily on their anaerobic power outputs. For time trialists, we’ll concentrate on threshold intervals down in the athlete’s aerodynamic position on the time trial bike. Lastly, this is the phase where we’ll prescribe a field test or have athletes come into the lab to determine their maximal lactate steady state (MLSS). In our experience we are used to seeing improvements in power at threshold any where between 3 and 20%.
When the off season is all said and done, athletes begin the cycling season with an increased FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and an increased ability to produce power specific to their goals. Additionally, athlete’s are more confident and optimistic about the season and are likely to enjoy the sport more.
Copyright 2019 , FasCat Coaching
Frank is the founder and owner of FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO. To discuss setting up the best off season program for your goals, please call 720.406.7444, or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.