20 kilometers in 20 minutes part 2

cassette-300x166We last left Mr. X at the beginning of his journey to carry out a tough off-season performance goal of riding his rollers 20 kilometers in 20 minutes. In our previous article we described the equipment and parameters of Mr. X’s goal.

So what has Mr. X been doing since the last article? Well Mr. X has been living life, working, going to holiday parties, training and testing. Sounds a bit like most amateur cyclists I know. Just wanted to make a point that Mr. X is not a pro, he is mortal and he is making progress on his goal.

However Mr. X did run into a health set back that he is recuperating nicely from. I find these types of minor setbacks typical of off-season challenges for masters athletes.  The set back only cost Mr. X a few days of strength training time but he is still on track to reach his strength training goals

So since Mr. X got started with his off-season training in November he has had a benchmark test, several break through workouts on the road, the trainer and his trusty rollers. Not to mention several days of functional strength training (FST) in the gym.

Types of training involved

Mr. X has followed a new functional strength-training program (FST) where he has almost completed two separate phases of training. The first phase of FST being one developed around Anatomical Adaptation and the second phase of FST being Maximum Strength. Mr. X has also been feasting on a diet of on bike Sweet Spot Training, Muscle Tension Intervals, Long Steady Distance and just a bit of Zone 5+ work. Some of this may sound pretty hard for the off-season but Mr. X only has so much time to train each week and has had to regularly take two full days off each week from the bike due to work responsibilities.

Some equipment changes

I posted on Facebook sometime back about the early observations that Mr. X’s gearing choice were not going to work. He had been regularly riding his road bike with a standard crank set and 12×28 cassette. This proved to not be enough gearing after the first 2 weeks of intervals so we have upgraded him to 12×25 for the last 4 weeks. This too has also proved out to not be enough gear so this week we will be upgrading him one last time to 11×23 on his cassette.

“Is it possible to predict a rider’s performance by looking at just gearing ratios and cadence? Yes and No. I took a look at the following calculator http://www.machars.net/bikecalc.htm and then created a spreadsheet looking at 11X23 Cassette and 53 Tooth Chain Ring at 5 RPM Increments.”


 “What was most interesting to me was that Mr. X’s first test actually showed that he was very close to the calculations above with an 11×23 cassette all the while using an 12×23 cassette.”


Some Bench Mark Results

When preparing Mr. X’s annual performance review we had some huge surprises. Mr. X had actually increased his year over year 20-minute power by over 48%. This is a new record for me as a coach. To be fair Mr. X has had better November 20 minute numbers in the past it just happened that this particular November test from the previous year was a lousy one for him. We also saw great improvements across Mr. X’s entire power curve. However while power increased Mr. Xs power to weight ratio decreased, NOT GOOD. We are working on getting his weight back down! All the way around I am very happy with Mr. X’s past year of performance and race results.

What kind of on bike workouts

Mr. X has been regularly doing Muscle Tension Intervals on the trainer in 5 minute increments and 4×10 and 5×10 Sweet Spot Interval training along with a couple of 2×6 workouts. So what do these numbers mean as they pertain to the prescribed workouts?

4×10 and 5×10 Sweet Spot Intervals are ridden in the high-end of Zone 3 and the Low end of Zone 4. The first number (4 or 5) in the workout title represents the number of intervals. The second number represents the duration of the interval, in this case 10 minutes. Each interval is followed with 5 minutes at Zones 2-3 power for rest. We started with 4x10s and now we have progressed to 5x10s and soon we will progress to 3×15, 4×15, 2×20 and finally 3x20s.

The hardest of these Break Through Workouts is completed the week of a test and these are the harder Zone 5 efforts. Currently Mr. X has completed one 6×2 and one 7×2. These 2-minute intervals are completed in Zone 5 on a trainer. These are hard and fast! The first 6×2 were completed  on rollers and it was discovered  that these intervals were more productive on a trainer. This will allow for greater resistance and better power numbers. This will not help with averaging Mr. X’s progress on speed averages but his 20k in 20 min goal is just one of several goals.

The muscle Tension intervals are done to improve force and to mimic climbing conditions while being done indoors on a trainer. Each 5-minute interval is ridden at a slow cadence of 40-60RPMs and with the strongest possible tension and gearing. All the while with the front wheel of the bike raised up 10”, which is roughly the equivalent of 12-15% grade, climb. This grade represents some of the toughest climbs Mr. X has to ride on his roads. By raising his front wheel this way and riding the tension and gear combinations prescribed he is not only creating great tension in his quadriceps and glutes he is also activating more of his core and lower back to produce the force needed to power through these intervals.

Next steps and potential results from his next test

Keep on keeping on! We won’t be making many if any changes after Mr. Xs test this weekend. He will be moving into a new phase of FST, Muscle Endurance, and will also transition into some core work as well. I am also going to be adding more of an emphasis on Mr. X’s flexibility in coming weeks. Of course there will also be the last change in gearing this week. If the gearing change doesn’t improve the average speed this coming weekend as much as I think it should then I will also be adding a couple of leg speed drill workout per week that Mr. X will have to figure out how to fit in to his busy schedule!

Feel free to wish Mr. X good luck on the quest or feel free to ask questions of either of use by leaving your questions in the comment section of the page.

Look for some performance analysis after Mr. X’s test this weekend on the PPC facebook page.

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Until next time,

Train Smarter Not Harder,

Coach Rob

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