Developing bike strength, power and technique

Lets face it, the bike section is the longest part of a triathlon, so its a key time you can either make up time, or lose it. Also, if you get this segment wrong, it can really mess you up for the run as well! Therefore, over then next few months, I will be blogging about how to make the most of your bike training, with regards to building your strength, endurance and speed, and developing your bike skills and pedalling technique.

If you haven’t yet, it is definitely worth getting a proper bike fit. However, make sure that the person you see, knows what your goals are, and fits you in your aero position, with the kit you will be wearing (event different thickness of bike shorts can change your bike position!). Also, make sure that they look at your positioning of your pedal cleats on your shoes as well.

For you to maximise your bike split, you need to be efficient, (therefore your pedaling technique needs to be smooth, cadence (can be variably per individual) but between 85-100 and your upper body still. I see so many cyclists wasting energy, and ruining any aero positioning with upper body rock, and with their knees sticking out! Think about position, and PRACTICE. If you use a watt bike at all, they have a pedal scan programme you can use, that will show you how efficient your pedal stroke is. (Computrainers do as well, so if you are interested in this, let me know and I can book you in to be assessed on our Computrainer)

You need to develop your bike strength, so gym work is great, particularly lower body exercises such as squats, lunges etc, however, its really important to be “specific” in your training, therefore, if you can get out on your bike and complete strength work, then you will be recruiting specifically all the muscles you need! (more on this to follow)

Also, even though many people are going long, and looking for getting lots of hours on the bike to develop endurance (which is of course very important) this is often at the expense of any anaerobic work outs, then fire up those fast twitch muscles and gets the heart pumping. I don’t, advise that a lot of time is spend on this, as they are hard on the body, and do hit the immune system (so an easy easy recovery day afterwards is very important), but one session a week is good (and remember, to build recovery weeks into your training as well). Its also a good use of time, as they are and should be short sessions.

The long endurance rides are great, however, too many cyclists go out on their longer aerobic rides (usually in groups) and go too hard, get competitive, and want to get the fastest strava split on a certain part of the road. Well, if you want to be the “middle of the road” rider, then carry on! All you are doing is affecting those quality sessions you have lined up, by fatiguing your legs too much. Instead, use these long rides, to practice pedaling technique, core control, fueling on the bike whilst in aero position, cornering etc. ALL training sessions should have a purpose, so spend 5 mins before you go out, thinking about what you want to get out of the session, and 5 mins on your return how well you achieved that. (rather than thinking “how am I going to stay out on my bike for 3 plus hours??!!”)

Finally, if you want to ride fast for a long period of time, you need to develop your threshold capacity on the bike. These are relatively uncomfortable sets, but are great for teaching you pace awareness and building your aerobic capacity to be able to ride faster for longer, without hitting that anaerobic zone.

So, below I have 2 sessions: One is focused on cadence and pedaling technique, the other is based on pushing that threshold!

CADENCE: (good recovery one as well)
10 mins warm up, nice and easy,
5 mins as 40 secs cadence 110 20 secs easy (this is a pulse raiser) easy gear. Just getting warmed up and heart rate up
10 mins as 30 secs left leg only, 1 min both legs, 30 secs right leg only – Keep in an easy gear, high cadence, the key is keeping upper body still and maintaining a nice smooth pedaling technique.
MAIN SET: Spend 2 mins at each of the following RPM (cadence) (2@80 2@90 2@100 2@110 2@120 2@110 2@90 2@80) Repeat twice. To make the set slightly longer you can spend 3 mins at each interval) Stay in the same gear for all – this isn’t meant to be a hard CV work out – think about gearing here, it shouldn’t turn into a strength set
10-15 mins easy warm down

10 mins warm up nice and easy
5 mins as 40 secs high cadence spin 20 easy
MAIN SET: 3 x 12 mins broken into 4 sets of 3 mins as first 4 endurance aerobic (zone 2 65-75% mhr), next 4 tempo (zone 3 75-82% mhr) next 4 harder (zone 4 82-89% mhr) then straight onto the next set.
(if fitness and time allows:) 10 mins, on TT bars focus cadence / pedaling technique, relaxed and still upper body at perceived half iron man pace (note heart rate, and if possible your watts) – something you can refer to when you repeat set in the future)
10-15 mins easy easy spin

Have fun, and let me know how you get on! More sessions to follow

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