Reaching Your Potential

Developing Power

There are many proven ways to develop power.  Mainly it comes down to you, and what workout routines are best for your success.   

 Here are a few tips on developing your fast-twitch muscles, and helping with your top end speed on a bike:

You need to get strong first. Over-geared efforts (heavy gear/low cadence) will help with your pure strength.

Then you need to turn your strength in to power. This is achieved by introducing some explosive efforts, i.e. standing starts, or rolling efforts, where you get on top of your gear

Finally, the tip of the fitness iceberg is transferring your power in to speed. This involves sprinting! Some high cadence work will help, along with hitting your maximum power output, whilst travelling fast. Without beating around the bush – you need to practice sprinting at full speed. This is most effective when you are relatively fresh, as when you are fatigued – you will struggle to produce the aerobic exercise power required to push your limits.

Speed versus Endurance

The old axiom of speed goes up, endurance goes down, is it true?

 To keep the concept simple and usable, I like to look at work that is faster than race pace and work that is slower than race pace as two opposing forces in a tug-of-war match. If we do too much work faster than race pace, then the rope gets pulled too far onto the speed side and the endurance side is going to suffer the consequences, or vice versa. So, in order to improve, we have to slowly add training stimuli to each side, or, in terms of our example, if we can keep adding equally powerful people to each side of the tug of war, the balance will remain.In fact, we can see this balancing act in science. A recent study on high intensity interval work demonstrates this clearly. In the study they found that after performing weeks of intense interval training, the participants’ performance had improved, but it was due to what we’d call anaerobic adaptations, such as increases in an enzyme called LDH in Fast Twitch (FT) fibers. There weren’t any changes in oxidative capacity or any changes to the Slow Twitch (ST) fibers. Why? Because for this particular workout, the stimulus for adaptation was with the harder-to-recruit Fast Twitch fibers and it was in a slightly anaerobic way. If we did this workout continuously without any endurance side support, we’d get a further and further shift until, eventually, our FT fibers would be really trained, but our ST fibers would be neglected. If we looked at studies on longer aerobic work, we’d see the exact opposite effect.

The Road Always Rises

Hills can be a challenge to many cyclists.  Several strategies can help you master even the toughest climbs.

 Because climbing is a fight against gravity, your ultimate ability is determined by your power-to-weight ratio. Lean, small-boned riders need proportionally less power to climb well compared to big people. That's why great climbers are nearly always diminutive.

The good news is that you can improve your climbing regardless of your genetic makeup. 

Hills For Intervals
Because you should often be training on hills to improve your vertical ability, it pays to scout out the best climbs within a reasonable distance of home. . You could even use your indoor trainer with your bike's front wheel raised 4 inches to simulate a grade.

Assuming there are some hills in your area, categorize them for specific kinds of training. Ideally, you'll have these 3 types:

  • Sprinter's hills. These are short and fairly steep. So do abrupt climbs - these locally can be up to 15% 
  • Hills for repeats. The best hill for intervals takes 2 to 4 minutes to climb, has a steady grade of 6 to 8% 
  • Long climbs. These can vary from a hill that takes 5 to 20 minutes to climb to real mountains.