climbing class

In keeping with the Nonlinear Periodization training prescribed by Coach Troy, today was a combination day of strength (climbing) and building endurance @ Threshold HR/Watts. 

Experienced cyclists know what a real climb feels like. While Indoor Cycling may get close, nothing can truly replicate climbing outdoors, on a road bike, over a long, steep climb. This morning's profile includes 4 long climbing efforts; 2 x 8 min., 1 x 10 min. and the final 11.5 min. to the summit. The final 2:48 features "The Wall" - an all out effort paced to my favorite Black Sabbath track Paranoid. Only available from iTunes.

Long duration efforts, at reduced pedal cadences, offer time to work on other components of efficient cycling; pedaling technique, body position and breathing control. Today we focused on what I call disruptive breathing, i.e. consciously breaking each rider's innate breathing rhythm, for the purpose of bringing focus to each breath and making each as complete as possible.[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge']

There's some interesting literature about this. Here's an excerpt from one article.


First, practice deep breathing. With a normal breath we generally use only 10 to 15% of our lungs capacity. And during exercise, we tend to increase the rate, not the depth of our breathing. Although deep breathing is more work, and uses a bit more energy, the pay off can be that 1 - 2% edge in a competitive situation. Here are 4 changes you might consider:

  • Exhale more completely. After a more complete expiration, it is easier to take a deep breath. The usual rhythm is exhale to a count of 3 followed by inhaling to a count of 2.

  • Belly breathe. As you concentrate on deep breathing, you will push your diaphragm down and thus the abdominal contents out. If you are doing it correctly, your abs will expand more than your chest.

  • Widen your hand position. A 2 cm wider hand position will open up your chest and decrease the difficulty of drawing in a deep breath.

  • Synchronize your breathing. Try to synchronize your respiratory rhythm to that of your pedal cadence. Remember the 3:2 ratio of exhale to inhale.

I cued variations on all four of these concepts throughout class.

Quick Tip: years ago I learned first hand how widening your hand position can improve your O2 uptake / power while cycling. My first road bike (Schwinn Paramount) came with somewhat narrow handlebars. Not knowing anything different, I rode with them for about a year. Until during one group ride one of the "Old Dogs" riding next to me asked; "why do ride with such narrow bars?" Not having a good answer, I just shrugged my shoulders and said they came with the bike. Taking the hint, that week I bought new bars in the width recommended by my team's sponsor/bike store. They made an amazing difference in my ability to breath and with wider width bars, I felt better in control of the bicycle.

Here's today's profile which follows Spinervals Competition 24.0 HILLacious and my Spotify playlist 1-19 Performance Class. You'll be missing my local tracks #1 Planet Caravan (yesterday's free track) and track #15 (follows Time Will Crawl) Black Sabbath's Paranoid from iTunes.

Class length 75 minutes + Cool Down

Warm Up — 10 minutes. 5 minutes of gradual increases in wattage. During the second 5 mins. we”™re finding the wattage where everyone is first noticing a change in breathing; VT1 / Aerobic Threshold = the top of the Recover Zone. This establishes a rough understanding of a base wattage that we use throughout the rest of class.

3 x 30 sec. Hard / 30 sec. Easy Times Like These Openers to AT/LT. I cue these by first having everyone find the amount of load @ 70 RPM that has them feeling they should (not just could) come out of the saddle. The 30 sec. Hard is then simply accelerating to 90+ RPM which results in some pretty impressive power numbers. The 30 sec. Easy is back to 70 RPM — many will stand and walk during the Easy portion.

2:35 rest - The Best Is Yet To Come ~ Tony Bennett. I encourage riders to focus on their recovery. Once they feel calm in their breathing, bring back the Base level work wattage. I'm talking/motivating everyone about how important it will be for their "Best Effort" to be a BEST EFFORT! 

3 min. Hard Effort — 4:03 Race Against Time ~ U2. Here”™s the “Best Effort” to establish a benchmark PTP Personal Threshold Power (top of the Perform Zone) or ride at 110% of FTP if known. Song is @ 70 RPM - which is perfect to establish PTP at a climbing cadence. Have everyone find the tempo and add gears > STAGE Button about one minute in and I coach them off the bike during this hard effort.

1:16 Rest - Quick drink before we start Climb #1

7:58 Climb - Bermuda ~ Fluke. Right back to 70 RPM and have riders quickly establish their wattage to 10%-15% below the 3 min. "Best Effort" power. > STAGE Button and then maintain this average until the end. You may want to offer slight changes in cadence & load, while keeping wattage = to the initially established watts #.

4 min. Rest - Delirious ~ Prince

8:02 Climb - Tribal Force ~ Higher cadence @ 84RPM with the same wattage. This moves more of the work to the aerobic system and is a little less stressful on everyone's legs.

4 min. Rest - White Flag ~ Dido

10:03 Climb - Final Frontier ~ Juno Reactor. Back to 70 RPM and encourage riders quickly get as close to their 3 min. "Best Effort" as possible and sustain it to the summit. Many of your athletes are strongest now - help them take advantage of their full strength here!

2 Min. Rest - Last Impression

Final 11:33 Climb - Starts with Come together ~ Joe Cocker at 83RPM. This is more of a tempo effort in the middle of the Performance Zone / between the two power thresholds. Continues with Time Will Crawl ~ Bowie as the road steepens and pedal speeds slow to 63RPM > keeping the same watts, with a bigger gear, as we approach the the final challenge of the day...

The Wall - 2:48 Paranoid ~ Black Sabbath. The beauty of riding magnetic cycles is how simply accelerating a big gear = a huge increase in work. Those big pedals accelerating from 63RPM to over 80RPM should produce the biggest #s of the ride and at less than 3 minutes this should be achievable by everyone 🙂 

Base Wattage (aerobic) flat road to finish — use these time to congratulate everyone and give tell them a bit about what you have planned for them next week.

Cool Down[/wlm_private]


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