A number of instructors (and riders) have asked me how one should approach the next training phase and how to know their class is ready. These instructors are usually believers and followers of a periodized format for delivering the focus of their indoor classes. So considering we are rolling towards the end of March, this is the perfect time to address our focus beyond base training.
How Do We Know Our Class is Ready for More?
Let”™s answer the easy question first. Well…sort of. The short answer is that it doesn”™t matter. Hey, at least I didn”™t say, “it depends”. The reason it doesn”™t matter is because we have riders at all levels plus those that will pop into our class without notice, so we never really know who will be present from one week to another. Thus everyone will be in different places with their training and level of fitness. For this reason, I like to keep things on a general schedule for those faithful regulars that use our classes for consistent training (See the image for a general timeframe for each basic training phase). I also like to stay on the periodization model because it conveys the message that “we have a plan” in this class. Having a longer-term plan for how one delivers classes is also a great way to keep people coming back. For example, I will make the following announcement before introducing a new profile, “So as you know we have been focused on “X” (whatever that is) for the last 3-4 weeks and now we are going to build on that with today”™s ride”. I”™ve seen new riders turn to the person next to them to ask what type of rides they missed. I”™ve even had people come to me after class and tell me that they are new (which I knew), wanting to know what was ahead for the next few weeks. The bottom line: they now want to be a part of what we are doing and don”™t want to miss a class.
Obviously, as always, we need to provide options and give people permission to work at their own levels. Make sure to emphasis the point that everyone is at a different level and place in their training, so no one feels behind or unsuccessful during class.
For those that have been following a periodized model, our focus has been on aerobic development / endurance, leg speed and muscular endurance (moderate climbing). With this foundation in place, from both a physical and educational sense, we can now get more specific in our focus and start shifting from volume to intensity. So what does this mean? The training done during base is designed to target general fitness and conditioning. The training performed during the next phase (often referred to as Build) begins to focus on developing muscular strength and power. With this shift in focus also comes an increase in intensity (bringing with it more recovery — hopefully). This can be a hidden trap for instructors because many will continue to increase the intensity, but not provide more time to recovery. In effect, intensity is not effectively increased because without appropriate recovery, people can work as hard as they need. Hence mediocre-ville and a dreaded plateau in fitness often follows.
This is often where taking the time to educate your class goes a long way. Having gone through 12 weeks of base training and understanding the purpose makes it easier to transition their mind to the concepts of training at a higher level.
Keep an eye out for my latest Audio PROfile entitled “CycleSTRONG” for an introduction to pure strength training — a perfect ride for the next phase of training.