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5 Workouts From the Wattie Ink. Pros That Will Have You Climbing the Podium, Too!

(friendly reminder - bring an extra towel)

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Regardless of why you’re riding inside, it’s always nice to have a script from which to work. Indoor training, while efficient, can be boring or a slog, removed from the wind and the views of riding along your favorite roads. These five sessions go by quickly and give you what you want out of an indoor session: an effective, high intensity ride that packs the hard work into a small window.

Heather Jackson’s “Championship Rounds”

I don’t know why I count this workout among my “favorites.” It’s possible my head is still foggy from lactic acid buildup, oxygen deprivation, and delayed onset muscle soreness. This session is HARD, but it will leave you satisfied, knowing you’ve pushed your physical and mental fitness to new heights. If nothing else you will experience new levels of training-related pain, knowing now that—if necessary—you can go to that place on race day and not back down.

The workout itself does not seem that threatening or difficult on paper: warm-up for around 30 minutes with some short one- to two-minute efforts above threshold power (FTP) to get the blood flowing and to prepare mentally for the work ahead. Find a super steep one- to two-minute climb that flattens out at the top. Got it?

OK, let’s begin.

Perform an all-out attack up the hill—pretend you’re attacking in the Tour de France, so get out of the saddle and go for it. Once you’ve crested the climb, settle in and hold threshold power for three more minutes. Recover very easily back to your starting point: at least four to six minutes of easy spinning. Simple, right?

Now do it five more times.

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Neal Henderson’s “Ladder of Death”

This session comes to us courtesy of Joe Gambles, and it came to him via his coach Neal Henderson, famed workout designer of The Sufferfest and head coach at APEX Coaching.

“I have to give credit to my former coach, Neal Henderson, for providing the structure to this workout. Neal would have specific numbers to hit on each of the efforts but sometimes I like to tell athletes to simply go off 'feel,' which allows them to dial in their internal pacing clock. If you go too hard too early in this one, there is no coming back from it! I do not use this session very often, perhaps only four times a year and approximately two weeks out from a key competition. It is a great session because it covers the spectrum of intensities that you may encounter during a 70.3. At the same time, it is a great way to boost your threshold (FTP) with the limited rest time between intervals.

“Here's how it goes: after a solid warmup, the rider performs a ladder down of intervals in the following pattern: 10' on, 2' off, 8' on, 2' off, 6' on, 2' off, 4' on, 2' off, 2' on, 10' off. Then she repeats that pattern after the 10' recovery interval. Intensities? That first 10' "on" interval begins around 70.3 intensity (85-95% of FTP) and each subsequent work interval rises in intensity, meaning the finishing intervals are pretty hard, probably around the top of VO2 Max power, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 120% of FTP.”

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Josh Amberger’s 70.3 Knockout Punch Session

A workout to build bike speed for 70.3 doesn't have to be insane. 70.3 "speed," when you get down to it, isn't very fast at all, but you need to be able to have the ability to ride anywhere from two-to-five minutes above threshold power during a race in order to split up a bike pack (or to get away from a draft pack of cyclists). The hard part is getting the transition right: riding at 70.3 effort, transitioning to sprint distance pace, and back to 70.3 pace without absolutely coming unglued. “Speed” in this case is the ability to deliver a punch that will put you on the offensive, rather than simply resigning yourself to riding near and around other athletes. To train this change of pace, run yourself through the following set:

45-minute warm up with a few 30-60 second accelerations to get your legs ready for what's next
4-5x(10 minutes at higher end 70.3 pace (perhaps 90-95% of FTP)
4-8 minutes recovery between each rep depending on fatigue level
5x(2 minutes best sustainable effort for that time frame (probably around 125-130% of FTP), 3 minutes easy)
30 minutes cool down

The key here is to dial in the 70.3 pace in the first part of the set. Don't exceed your limit or you won't be able to hit the necessary wattage you need to in the two-minute maximal pickups. You should be finishing the two-minute efforts pretty tired, but still able to clear the lactate that you've created. If you can't clear the lactate (i.e.: your legs are burning so much you can't hit the power goals), then dial the efforts back a bit and try the set again the following week to gauge any improvements.

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Jen Annett’s 48-minute Torture Session

Whenever I get asked “what’s your favorite session on the bike?” I feel like I have a bunch of different answers. I love riding so much, and each workout serves a different purpose, even if it’s just an easy spin. I love the easy days with no computers or numbers to focus on—just the pure enjoyment of getting out on my bike. I love our Time Trial Tuesday Lost Moose climbs, which is an event local to Penticton, B.C., where I live. The Lost Moose Climb is an eight kilometer (five miles, to those of you south of the border) all out effort with 615m elevation gain. These are hard and working with a group in a “cat and mouse” format really helps me push myself to the limit (I’m not competitive at all...really). Plus it’s fun to see my friends and training partners improve throughout the year as well!

During the winter, or when I’m stuck inside on the trainer, my favorite session features one minute repeats. As much as I hate these, I always see good gains with them! 24x(1min at 115-120% of FTP, 1' recover) whips you into shape pretty quickly!

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Rach McBride’s Microbursts

We recently sat down with Rach McBride, one of our Canadian professional triathletes, and they reported a set of 30” microbursts as their favorite bike session, which surprised us. Rach is known for dishing out lots of pain over many hours on the bike, and the fact that this is their favorite cycling session provides a lesson to us all: workouts need not be rehearsals for your race! The session is simple, but—in Rach’s words—it is by no means easy.

Get in a really solid warmup (30-60’ of steady riding with pickups), then:
10x(30” ALL-OUT, 15” easy)
5’ easy

Repeat up to three more times (so a total of four sets!). This cruel session gives you a total of 20 minutes of anaerobic work on the bike, and is certain to pull your threshold power up from above. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes, and how many times you survived through the set!


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