Firstly what do I mean by working on your strength? Well there are many elements to this, so firstly lets focus on the obvious. Specific strength work in each of the three disciplines, so on the bike, this would be your hill reps, over gearing on the turbo, running this would also be hill reps, which can be mimicked on the treadmill, and in the pool, its that pull and paddle work. Here are 3 examples of great winter strength sessions: (as winter I have used the turbo / treadmill)
TURBO (I know how much our turbo squads love this one!)
WARM UP 10mins easy spin, 5mins as 20sec lifts 40 easy. Main set: 3 repeats of 5 x 3mins as 2mins seated 1 min standing continously for 15mins all with a cadence of 50-60 Effort Z4 followed by 5mins easy spin (20min block) TOTAL MAIN SET: 60mins COOL DOWN 10mins easy spin, (if time after the overgearing work, 10mins at perceived race pace effort and cadence is great)
WARM UP: 10mins easy 5mins as 20sec lifts 40 easy: MAIN SET 6 x 4mins at 5-6% gradient effort hard but a level that can be sustained throughout (so the target is to keep the same speed for each one) 2mins easy spin between: TOTAL MAIN SET 36mins, COOL DOWN: 10mins easy
SWIM: (with more experienced swimmers, add a band as well around the ankles)
Warm up 400m easy 4 x 50m build 1-4 with 20RI Main set: 10 x 200m reps as 5 pull 5 pull and paddles aiming to build 1-5 all with 20RI Cool down. 200-400m easy, your choice
This strength work is essential as its building strength and power of your fast and slow twitch muscles, in the key specific movements that you will be doing when racing. I have used a turbo because you gain so much quality in these sessions. Its easy to control, you do not face the dangers of the road, and you can really work hard on that resistance training! Don’t get me wrong though, mountains work pretty well too! In the pool, switching the legs off and focusing on developing your strength and power in your stroke with lots and lots of repetitions of what you will be doing come race day but with paddles on and a band will massively improve your strength, and when you take them away come racing, you will be so much more powerful and strong in the water. It also means that you are able to swim for a longer time, with more power, and a lower heart rate, saving those legs and aerobic system for your bike then run! For athletes limited to time as well, its a very specific way of building your strength training into your programme.
However, lets not forget the core. Now whilst these sessions engage and activate the core, I do find many AG athletes have a core that is not engaged and not necessarily strong. Therefore we will follow on with this discussion next week on why we should not forget out core and work on developing its strength!