Training Notes: September 2020 – January 2021

Here's a brief update about what I've been up to.

The big changes continue. My garage gym is fully operational, and I've spent the last couple of months figuring out a decent strength training regimen; finding a good balance between strength training and cycling; as well as actually working on the technical performance of each lift.

I've mentioned before that strength training is now a major component of my plan, and since (despite previous dumbbell dabbling) I'm basically a beginner, I decided to extend the off-season period to 6 months this year. I want as big a platform as possible on which to build power.

I've got to a point where I'm pretty happy with my squat technique, and have been making good progress on this most important lift. My main target is to get my squat up close to 300 pounds by the end of this phase (late May). Based on my progress so far, I think I've got a good chance of doing so.

See my Training Plan for full details, although my actual lifting remains in a state of flux as I attempt to balance it with my cycling. My main priority is building strength, but I don't want to lose too much aerobic capacity.

Although from next year onwards I'll stick to the 7-day microcycle outlined in the Plan, this year I've been experimenting with a two-week cycle, in which I lift on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday. There are rest days on Mondays, a longish Base ride on the middle Sunday, a Neuromuscular ride on the second Saturday and a mixed-intensity aerobic ride to finish the cycle on the second Sunday. The other days have easy commute rides, plus Leg Speed rides before each weights session. That's a total of about 8 hours cycling per week

This obviously devotes a lot of time and energy to strength at the expense of cycling, but as I currently have so much more to gain in the former I think it's a worthwhile trade-off. Next year I'll be at a much higher starting point with my strength, so sticking to the more balanced training detailed in the Plan will probably be the way to go.

So with 12 weeks remaining in the Off-Season, I've got 30 Squat days, 12 Deadlift days, 6 RDL days and 6 Mid-Thigh Pull Days, plus upper-body work, still ahead of me. If you want to build power (force x velocity), it makes sense to first develop a lot of force, and then later work on your speed (with explosive lifts and plyometrics). That's what I'm doing.

I'll report on the results in a more substantial update in 12 weeks time. By then I'll have some baseline power numbers (peak, 15- and 30-seconds, and 1-, 5- and 20-minutes) for you as well. Then we'll see how much I can increase these over the 8 weeks of the Pre-Season, when I ramp up the intensity both on and off the bike.

For now, patience is the necessary virtue.

UPDATE: 22nd February

Well, right after I published this I ended up making several more major changes.

Trying to juggle both strength and cycling training in the way I outlined above just wasn't working, so I bit the bullet and accepted I need to schedule both on the same days. As strength training is the priority at this time of year, that goes in the morning, with my key rides in the late afternoon. This is how track sprinters (from whose training I've borrowed heavily) do things.

So Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are the big days of the weeks. Lifting in the early morning, maybe a recovery commute ride afterwards, then a cycling session after I get home. Tuesdays are standing starts, Thursdays are power jumps (overgeared sprints), and Saturdays feature a little high-intensity aerobic work to prevent me losing too much top-end fitness. Sundays are a nice easy base ride, Mondays are rest days, and Wednesdays/Fridays are recovery commute rides.

I also had to take a full week away from the gym and hard rides. I'd got into my thirteenth week of full-body weight training 2-3 times per week, and all my lifts had stagnated or even started regressing for a couple of weeks. I'd left it way too long to take a break. For the rest of the off-season it'll be 4 weeks on, 1 week off (and I really should know better by now).

I also spotted some bad technique creeping back into my squatting, no doubt due to increasing the load too quickly. So I've dropped back 15 pounds and installed a mirror in the garage to keep an eye on myself. No folding over, knee valgus, or stopping above parallel allowed!

Let's see how this affects things. See you in May.

#cycling #training