The Power of "3" - "Call the Plumber"
"Waves" by Mr. Probz
"Duel" by Bond
"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
As many of you know I was recently selected as a Master Educator by Stages Indoor Cycling. Last Saturday I led my first workshop at Cherry Creek Athletic Club in Denver and it was an honor to share the basics of power training with this group of 20 fitness professionals.
I believe FreeMotion S Series bikes (built by the Team at Stages Cycling) are currently the best in the industry. The ability to accurately and directly measure the rider's output is so leading-edge that professional cycling”™s Team Sky uses the same power meter technology on their outdoor bikes. Paired with the power console, instructors have all the metrics necessary to lead an exciting power-based indoor cycling class. That being said, we at Stages Indoor Cycling strongly believe that the first step for any instructor to understand and properly "cue-municate" data, requires a thorough grasp of "anchoring" time to effort. The simplest way to do this is to provide consistency with how one describes rate of perceived exertion (RPE).
At Stages we use a RPE scale of 1-10 with 5 being lactate threshold. Lactate threshold is the exercise intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood stream. If an above threshold intensity is maintained the rider will eventually fatigue and working muscles will fail. When explaining RPE to riders I like to compare the body to a kitchen sink. The working muscles are the sink, the ability of the body to clear or filter waste products, like lactate, is the drain and the intensity or waste products are the amount of water flowing out of the faucet.
When exercising at a RPE of less than 2, water is dripping out of the faucet. The drain can easily keep up with this extremely low flow of water. This low flow would be best associated with:
- Zone 1
- Active Recovery
- Less than 55% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP)
- Less than 68% of Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR)
- Efforts at this RPE can be held almost indefinitely
- Can talk in full sentences, comfortable, light, very easy, recovery, soft pedal
When exercise intensity is increased to a RPE of 2-3, flow increases to a trickle, but the drain can easily match the low flow of water. There is still no accumulation of H2O in the sink. This trickle of water would correspond with:
- Zone 2
- Endurance Training
- 56-75% of FTP
- 69-83% of FTHR
- Efforts at this RPE can be maintained for long periods of time
- Conversational effort, “social ride”, breathing is slightly elevated, starting to sweat or glisten, this is where you train your muscles to burn fat for fuel
As intensity increases to a RPE of 3-4, water flow increases to a steady stream but the drain can still keep pace with the flow and there still isn”™t any accumulation of liquid in the sink. This steady stream of water would most closely correlate with:
- Zone 3
- Tempo Training
- 76-90% of FTP
- 84-94% of FTHR
- Efforts at this RPE can be maintained for 60 minutes to 3 hours
- Can talk in broken sentences but would rather focus on the work at hand, marathon pace
At a RPE of 4-5 the flow increases and the drain can match the flow but water is on the verge of collecting in the bottom of the sink. The flow and draining capacity are at equilibrium and would most closely parallel with:
- Zone 4
- Lactate Threshold
- 91-105% of FTP
- 95-105% of FTHR
- Effort can be maintained for 8-30 minutes
- Heavy breathing starts, but not breathless, uncomfortable and challenged, start to feel a little “burn”, maintainable but must stay focused, 10k race pace
At a RPE of 6-7 the surge of water is increased to a point where it begins to accumulate in the sink and if it is not reduced the sink will overflow in 3-8 minutes, depending on the size of the sink. The more trained the rider the bigger the sink. This surge would associate with:
- Zone 5
- VO2 Max
- 106-120% of FTP
- Greater than 106% of FTHR
- Effort can be maintained for only 3-8 minutes
- Deep, labored breathing, very uncomfortable, very challenged, above the "Red Line", rapid breathing as your body tries to vent accumulating waste
At a RPE of 7-8 the gush of water is so great that the sink will overflow in 30 seconds to 3 minutes. This flood of water would most closely resemble:
- Zone 6
- Anaerobic Capacity
- 121-151% of FTP
- Due to the lag time of the heart HR is not a metric that should be used
- Muscles fail in 30 seconds - 3 minutes
- Gasping for air, Unable to work harder, very very uncomfortable, burning mostly carbs for fuel.
At a RPE of 9-10 the torrent of water will overflow the sink in less than 30 seconds. This flood is most like:
- Zone 7
- Neuromuscular Power
- Maximum Effort
- Muscles will run out of gas in less than 30 seconds, at the end the engine just shuts off
It”™s important to explain that when working below threshold or when the drain can keep up with the water flow, RPE remains constant, but when working above threshold or when the drain CAN NOT keep up with the flow, RPE”™s are dynamic. If output is held constant, above threshold, a 6 turns into a 7, a 7 turns into an 8, an 8 into a 9 and eventually the muscles fail or the sink overflows and recovery is needed.
As fitness improves the body will build a better “plumbing system” or larger drain and remove waste products more quickly. Also, the brain will build a better lactate buffering system or a larger sink, therefore being able to withstand more and more waste products without reaching muscle failure or “overflowing the sink”.
The 3 song profile I created for this week is titled “Call the Plumber!” The 1st goal of this set is to slowly and steadily increase the riders RPE every 2 minutes until they reach their MAX intensity or the water reaches the very top of the sink. The 2nd goal is to overflow the sink by performing three 20 second maximum efforts with just 10 seconds recovery after each. Try to explain how each RPE should feel as your riders “fill their sink”, then at the end let them make a big mess by working so hard the their sink overflows all over the kitchen floor.
Attached to this post is:
3 song harmonically mixed track to download Right Click > Save As / Save Target As to download on PC or Download Linked File As on Mac. Open in iTunes and then you'll see this in your Spotify Local File folder.
Recording of me teaching this 3 song set in a class on a Spinner NXT Right Click > Save As / Save Target As to download on PC or Download Linked File As on Mac. Open in iTunes and then you'll see this in your Spotify Local File folder.
Recording of me teaching this 3 song set in a class on a Spinner Blade Ion Right Click > Save As / Save Target As to download on PC or Download Linked File As on Mac. Open in iTunes and then you'll see this in your Spotify Local File folder.
Recording of me teaching this 3 song set in a class on a Keiser M3 Right Click > Save As / Save Target As to download on PC or Download Linked File As on Mac. Open in iTunes and then you'll see this in your Spotify Local File folder.
3 song harmonically mixed track AND video Right Click > Save As / Save Target As to download on PC or Download Linked File As on Mac. Open in iTunes and then you'll see this in your Spotify Local File folder.
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