Friday, 23 December 2011

Winter Turbo Sessions - The Basics

Winter Turbo Sessions

Whilst we are in our base training period and doing the Long Steady Distance (LSD) rides at the weekend it is still important that we do some higher intensity work each week. With the dark evenings and inconsistent weather most of us will be doing some indoor cycling, either in the gym, on a turbo trainer or on rollers. Here are some ideas of sessions that have been of use to me and hopefully will give you some more ideas of what you can do:

Warm Ups
Cadence pyramids. We have been doing variations on these at the Wednesday club turbo nights.
Warm up for 10 mins or so in a steady gear, cadence around 90RPM. If you don’t have a cadence sensor then try a pedal 15 revolutions every 10 seconds.
Do one minute at 105 RPM, recover back to 90 for 30-60 seconds
Increase by 5 RPM for next interval and recover.
Repeat to 120-130 RPM and then intervals back down to 105.
A 20 minute warm up of that type will ensure that your muscle are ready for some high intensity work.

Basic Pyramid Session
A session that gets progressively harder, peaks and then takes you back down to recovery. Only takes an hour with a good warm up but can be used to take you above Lactate Threshold into an area where you are working anaerobic ally depending on what gears / resistance you use:
0-15 min: warm up in steady gear
15-30 min: Up one click or one gear - base line, suggest about 70% Max Heart Rate
30-35 min: Up one click or one gear
35-40 min: Up one click or one gear
40-45 min: Drop back one click or one gear
45-50 min: Drop back one click or one gear - back to base line
50-55 min: Drop back one click or one gear. Try to spin
55-60 min: Warm down
If you wish to make the session longer or harder just add more increases until you reach the intensity you desire. Will all sessions of this type remember not to start too hard. If you’re going to repeat the sessions record what gears / resistance you use so you know where to pitch it next time.

Basic Ramp Session
20 minute warm up. Use cadence drills if possible.
Pick a gear that’s just one above the intensity that you would do for a base ride. Pedal at a steady 90RPM for 6 minutes. Remember that gear. Recover for 3 minutes in an easy gear.
Go to one gear harder for 6 minutes. Then recover for 3 minutes.
Repeat for 6-7 intervals with each one in one gear harder.
After the last interval spin out in an easy gear until your heart rate is down to a Perceived Rate of Exertion of 2-3 (light exertion).
Again, you can vary the session with the timings of intervals to recovery and the gears used. A ratino of 2:1 effort to recovery is a good baseline.
Lactate Threshold Session
See separate post on turbo session 21st December
A session designed to increase your Lactate Threshold by working above the threshold for a short interval and then recovering below it. Repetitions of this are a way of training your body to increase Lactate Threshold and ultimately enabling us to work harder in a time trial.

Happy training


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Increasing Lactate Threshold

As a follow up to the turbo session on the 21st December here's a quick summary of what why we are trying to increase our lactate threshold and how we started training to do it:
Lactic acid is produced by our muscles and at low intensity our bodies can process that continuously. When we reach a state called Lactate Threshold our bodies are producing more Lactic Acid than it can process, this then results in the build up of Lactic Acid and ultimately limits our performance. Typically most of reach that point at 80-85% of Max Heart Rate (MHR). This point is sometimes expressed as a % of VO2(max). Most sedentary people reach this at around 60% and good club athletes at around 80%. Elite endurnace athletes may be as high as 90%.
Therefore, for our type of events it is advantagoeus to increase our Lacate Threshold and the session we did at the turbo class was designed to help us do that. If we can time trial at a higher intensity for longer this will directly result in more power and speed. By doing intervals above Lactate Threshold we can train our bodies to deal with Lactic Acid. The method we used was to continuously cross that threshold. If you look at the output from my heart monitor you can see that I crossed that 85% threshold 7 times during the session.

To remind you of the session that we did and to enable you to re-create it / adapt it to your needs here is a summary:
20 mins warm up, drills to increase cadance, some single leg drills.
Pyramid session
1 min in a gear that gets you below Lactate Threshold but isn't too easy
1 min recovery
2 min interval, 1 min in the gear that was used for the first 1 min interval and 1 min in a gear that's two clicks harder
1 min recovery
3 min interval, 2 mins in the first gear used and one min two clicks harder
1 min recovery
4 min interval, 3 plus 1 as per the previous pattern
1 min recovery
5 min interval, either 4 + 1 or 3 + 2 if you can manage it
1 min recovery
5 min interval, either 4 + 1 or 3 + 2 if you can manage it
1 min recovery
4 min interval, 3 plus 1 as per the previous pattern
1 min recovery
3 min interval, 2 plus 1 as per the previous pattern
1 min recovery
2 min interval, 1 plus 1 as per the previous pattern
1 min recovery
1 min in the harder gear
10 mins easy pedalling to cool down

This session has been adapted from one I learned from Richard Stannard's Turbo Torture class that I attended on the 19th December. If ever you're in the Windsor area on a Monday or Thursday I can recommend them as excellent sessions and good opportunities for learning good training techniques.

Feel free to adapt the session by adding / deleting more intervals depending on the time you have and your fitness.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Are you ready for LSD?

Base Training – Long Steady Distance Riding
Firstly many thanks to Andrew Costello for sending me the following link:

It underwrites a lot of the principals that we need to adhere to make our winter base training a solid foundation for our season. I have also received similar advice from an old pro (Keith Butler) who was ride leader on a winter training camp I attended some years ago. The key point for those January rides is one of Long Steady Distance which we will kick off at our first ride in January. On that training camp some years ago Keith was watching me mash a massive gear on the first ride of the week, for the rest of the week he banned me from using the outer chainring as we were there to turn the pedals for a long time not to push big gears. I can certainly attest to the fact that I got a better training benefit from the camp and coped with the longer rides better. Therefore, I am suggesting that this will be a good thought to have for our January rides.
With the mainstream adoption of compact chainsets I was wondering if the gearing of modern bikes will make it impossible to do a long ride on the inner ring. On the assumption that we will not use the smallest sprocket on the inner ring a cadence of 90RPM should enable us to have enough speed to do the Long Steady Distance rides in January at a suitable pace. Perhaps only using the large chainring where we need that control on certain descents. Now would be a good time to practice riding on the inner ring as we prepare for base training in January.
Please try it and let me know how you get on.
The table below shows the speed in MPH that a 90 RPM cadence generates. If you ever want to find information on gears the first stop is the late Sheldon Brown’s page:

Inner chainring
Sprocket 39 36 34
12 22.9 21.1 19.9
13 21.1 19.5 18.4
14 19.6 18.1 17.1
15 18.3 16.9 15.9
16 17.2 15.8 15.0
17 16.1 14.9 14.1
19 14.4 13.3 12.6
21 13.1 12.1 11.4
23 11.9 11.0 10.4
25 11.0 10.1 9.6

So if this doesn’t match your gears put in your own figures so you can work your own out.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Turbo Session 30th November 2011

Thanks to all those that supported our first turbo session. The main set was a pyramid session made up of the following intervals:
4 x 3 mins in a hard gear at or around lactate threshold with 90 seconds recovery
3 x 3 mins 1 gear harder at or around anaerobic threshold with 90 seconds recovery
2 x 3 mins 1 gear harder at or above anaerobic threshold, 10 minute TT pace with 90 seconds recovery
1 x 3 mins 1 gear harder close to maximum effort with 90 seconds recovery
We talked during the recovery periods about how this maps onto our max heart rate. Based on my max heart rate you can see the effect of the intervals by looking at the heart rates between 20 and 65 minutes. You can clearly see the 4 groups of intervals getting progressively harder and the recoveries lessening as fatigue sets in.

I hope you found the session useful and that we can build these sessions into a cornerstone of the clubs winter training.

Monday, 28 November 2011


This year we plan to build on the clubs traditional 8 week plan to a 12 week plan with some periodisation built in. The three month plan will be split into three blocks of four weeks with a gradual progression built into the three blocks. As we are training over winter there may be some last minute changes to the plan if inclement weather intervenes or roadworks dictate. The objective of the plan is to build base fitness for the summer season. The base period should precede a “build” phase of more quality training to enable riders to be able to peak later in the year. The plan is designed to suit the needs of most disciplines enjoyed by club members and should allow for riders to tailor it to suit their needs. In addition we hope to make the rides enjoyable and social occasions for all members.
Should the numbers on the rides become so large that we represent a hazard to traffic we may split the group to minimize disruption to other road users.

• All rides will start at 0900 sharp. Please aim to be at the start for 0850 for a briefing as to what the plan is for the day.
• The route for each ride will be posted by Thursday each week via the NFCC email group. If not subscribed please contact and an invitation will be sent out.
• If there is a last minute change of plan due to weather a text and email message will be sent out before 0800 on Saturday with either a postponement or cancellation notice. E.g. if it’s icy the start time may be deferred by an hour or two or the ride deferred to the Sunday in extreme conditions. Please ensure that Barry Wootten has your mobile number, an “In Case of Emergency” number and is aware of any allergies or medical conditions that the emergency services may need to be aware of.
• Please ensure that you are carrying two suitable tubes and tools / pump. Also that you are riding with suitable tyres for winter riding and that they are in good condition. We all get punctures but it is extra important in winter to minimize them as it’s easy for everybody to get cold waiting for a repair.
• Ensure that you carry enough food and drink for you to complete the ride. With the exception of the century ride we do not plan to stop.
• Ensure that your bike is equipped with working front and rear lights. Conditions can change quickly especially on long winter rides.
• Invest in some good-quality winter clothing, because getting cold, wet and uncomfortable on the bike is a great way to lose enthusiasm for cycling. With the proper kit you'll be prepared for nearly all that the winter can throw at you. Essentials are windproof gloves and overshoes, helmet and skull-cap, a windproof top and full-length bib tights.

We are aiming to make the training as relevant as we can for the majority of riders to prepare themselves for the season for numerous disciplines. Please ensure that you can comfortably complete the distance and average speed before joining the group rides. If you are only able to sustain the pace for a short while it is OK to join the rides for an hour for example and then drop off and return at your own pace. If you do so please let the ride leader know so that the rest of the group doesn’t spend the day looking for you.
The stronger riders in the group will keep to the planned pace of the group and may do more time on the front to make their training a little harder.

It is imperative that we ride safely and that we are advocates for cycling and NFCC in particular. Riding in club kit is to be encouraged and we will ensure that we are exemplars for cyclists everywhere. There are some key principles for which we all need to adhere to and ensure that those new to group riding are introduced to.
• We have the same rights and responsibilities as other road users. We share the road with others and must remember that at all times. We will generally ride two abreast but keep a fairly tight formation. There may be times that the road conditions dictate that we ride on single file. At such times signal your intent and move smoothly into line without overlapping wheels.
• When on the front keep the pedaling smooth and consistent. Avoid sudden changes of pace as these will be amplified down the group. When moving to the front keep the pace the same. It is not a time to accelerate. If you wish to move to the back after your turn at the front indicate your intent with a flick of the elbow. Then move clearly to the right after checking that it is safe to do so. Ease off the pace and then filter in behind the last rider.
• Point out hazards to others. Not every little blemish in the road but those that may cause damage to a wheel or require deviation from the line being taken. Do not brake or make sudden movements. The further back riders are the less time they will have to react.
• If you need to expunge any bodily fluids please move to the back so that they are not shared with fellow riders.
• Ride close but not too close to the rider in front. Take benefit from the drafting effect but NEVER overlap wheels. Keep a small gap; we are not the GB team pursuit!
• Be aware of those behind you. Let the ride leader or those in front know if others are dropping off the back. If you see people drop off the back be prepared to allow them to catch you and then pace them back to the group if possible. We will try to post a “tail gunner” on each ride to watch for this but please be aware of your fellow riders. Even the strongest and most experienced can have off days or take on insufficient fuel.
• Concentrate. Keep watching the rider in front and those around you. We are all responsible for our own safety and those of others.
• Mechanical problems / punctures. These will inevitably happen. If they do raise an arm and advise the other riders. We will then endeavour to stop where it is safe to do so and rectify the problem.

Wiggle are running their Spring Sportive from Brockenhurst in mid April. What better chance to put into effect that base training and complete a long ride with those that you’ve spent three months training with. Entries are now open for the 14th April at:
If we can get a good size group we will be able to start and ride together. This would be a great chance to ride well, display club colours and show what exemplars we are for cyclists, the club and our area.
Suggest that we enter the Saturday ride as there may be a time trial on the Sunday.
Thanks to Nick for running the programme for many years and giving us the base for this years programme.
To Peter, Graham and Patrick for their inputs and checking (and anybody else I’ve consulted and forgotten.

Here’s to a good winter’s base training. Look forward to seeing both regular and new faces in January. Also, don’t forget there are usually endurance rides every Saturday at 0900 from Brockenhurst and 0845 Sundays from the Wheel Inn at Pennington.
07711 631826


To compliment the winter base training programme the club is planning to put on a weekly turbo session to build a higher level of training primarily to build speed and fitness for the start of the Time Trial season. Even when doing the essential base training that may feel easy to some athletes it is still necessary to include some high level training in shorter intervals. By doing these sessions midweek it should help form the basis of a winter training programme for most club members. For instance members could repeat a similar session at home on a Monday evening to give three well spaced complimentary sessions a week in the winter.
These sessions are not spinning classes and will not be run to musical accompaniment. They are cycling specific classes aimed at club cyclists looking to improve fitness and performance. We will aim to make them both enjoyable and beneficial.
These sessions will be held at Tiptoe Church Hall on Wednesday nights at 1930. We are planning to hold as first taster session on Wednesday 30th November. We will aim to set up in 15 minutes and be ready to start the session at 1945. The initial session will take around 75 minutes including warm up and cool down. There will be time for a drink afterwards and this should be an ideal time to share training tips and help plan future sessions. There is a wealth of experience within the club and a lot of newer members hungry for knowledge so please feel free to share what has worked / not worked for you in the past.
Make sure that you’re well hydrated and fuelled throughout the day. As with any session over an hour it’s good to keep glycogen levels up and this will also aid recovery.
The first session will be limited to 10 riders as we assess the facilities and interest of the membership. Entry is £3 to club members to cover cost of the hall and is restricted to members of NFCC.
Please remember that the hall has a wooden floor and in order to protect that no cycle shoes of any description are to be worn in the hall at any time except on your own mat. All riders will put a mat or carpet under their bike and change shoes there. It goes without saying that all participants will share the cleaning up of the hall and their own mess afterwards. We want to keep using the venue and we must leave the hall fit for its next use when we depart.

Bike, make sure you’ve got your turbo trainer skewer in.
Please also ensure your bike is clean and preferably pump up tyres before leaving home as we want to make a prompt start.
Bike Shoes and socks
Turbo trainer and front wheel raiser
Towels. Preferably one small to keep on the bike during the session and a larger one for afterwards.
Cycle shorts.
Cycle Top / T-Shirt / Vest. Bring a range of technical clothes as we need to work out hall heating / ventilation.
Water bottles. Water will be available in the kitchen but for the intensity and duration of the session an isotonic drink is recommended.
Change of clothes for afterwards. Suggest fleece or similar that is warm.
Mat or carpet. This must be large enough for your bike, turbo and front wheel.
Heart Rate Monitor. Some of the sessions will refer to % of Max Heart Rate
Cadence sensor. There will be some instructions to cycle at a given cadence. If you have a computer that reads cadence that will be useful and it will also help those without as you can be a reference point.
If you have power meters and wish to use them to record the session no problem but power will not be used as part of the instructions for the sessions as not enough members have the equipment.
Recovery drink / food

Please email if you would like one of the 10 spaces. First come first served. If you cannot make the session due to work / illness etc please let Peter know as early as possible in case there is a waiting list.

Perceived Rate of Exhaustion

We will refer to PRE as a simple way of ensuring that the endurance rides and turbo sessions are at the right intensity. If you're unfamiliar with the PRE scale (there are different ones) this is how we will refer to the PRE:

Percieved Rate of Exhaustion Definition
0-1 No exertion No effort. Sedentary.

2-3 Light exertion Intensity of a warm up or cool down.

4-5 Medium exertion You're breathing a little faster. Your heart is pumping a little faster. You're feeling a little warmer. This is what base training should feel like.

6-7 Moderate exertion You're breathing pretty hard now, you're probably sweating a little. You can talk, but it's getting tougher. This is where we will be during the tempo intervals on the base rides.

8-9 Hard exertion. You're breathing really hard and you can only say a few words at a time. You're wondering how long you can go on like this. 10 mile TT effort.
This will be the maximum intensity during the early winter turbo sessions.

10 Hardest exertion You cannot keep this pace for more than a minute. Speaking is impossible. This is your limit. Max sprint effort.

Preparation for Base Training

Base Training Overview

This is intended as a general guide to the winter base training period and is based on my own personal experience and reading from coaches whose opinions I value. I have used the principles of periodisation in my own training for a number of years as I have prepared for various endurance events such as the Etape Du Tour, triathlons and an ultra marathon. My main source of reference is the Training Bible series of books by Joe Friel which I can recommend.

One of the key tenets to successful performance is a solid period of base training. This is the foundation work required to build good aerobic endurance that will give the base to move onto higher intensity training and racing later in the year. For this reason the club has put on a series of training rides each winter to assist riders of all abilities and ambitions lay down those foundations. Accepting that everybody’s requirements are different the base training sessions put on by NFCC are aimed to support the needs of the majority of riders and cannot accommodate  everybody’s specific needs. Therefore it is necessary for members to integrate the club sessions into their training plans and tailor other training to their own specialised requirements.
It is essential to take a recovery week at the end of each of each phase of training, typically the training year will be broken down into 4 week blocks. A reduction in volume every four weeks will allow the body to repair and the positive benefits of the increasing workload will take effect. It’s a hard discipline to take a recovery week when you are feeling strong but it will pay off later in the season. The club base rides will be shorter every four weeks to fit in with this philosophy.

Good time of year to have a professional bike fit. Flexibility changes over time and your bike fit is more important than any upgrade to the machine.
Preparation Phase - December

Hopefully you will have had some rest since finishing your racing from the end of last season and have been doing some riding and cross training. Riding during this phase should be easy and should be aimed at getting you back into the habits of regular training. As well as starting exercises to increase our aerobic capacity we should also start thinking about cycling specific drills to increase our efficiency and building muscular strength. The usual way of doing this is by specific gym work. This is an area of divided opinion amongst some endurance athletes but for most of us targeted gym work will add strength without adding weight and bulk. If you’re not familiar with weight training seek specialist advice before starting and make sure you’ve got good technique before starting on the maximum strength phase of training.

For those that are new to weight training or if you want to undertake weight training that is beneficial to cycling I can recommend “Weight Training for Cyclists” by Ken Doyle and Fric Schmitz. The 2nd edition of this book is much better than the first. It’s also advisable to include core strengthening work into your plan. The benefits of a strong core are numerous for all parts of our sport, generating power, injury prevention and aerodynamics as a strong core is required to hold a tuck position for a long time.

At this stage of the year we’re all several months away from our first time trial / race / sportive so be disciplined and train easy. Even if you feel you can go faster you will be doing yourself a disservice in the long run as you are looking to build intensity over the coming months and not peak in January and find yourself declining over successive months. Remember you don’t see modern pros hold peak form all year round, your fitness is either improving or worsening at any time and periodisation is designed to make your best performance come at the right time.

Type of training during Preparation Phase

Depending on the type of events you are training for but as a general guide three times per week would be appropriate for most cyclists. One long endurance ride to increase aerobic endurance. Aim to keep cadence high, around 90-100 is ideal, drop into small ring when climbing to keep the cadence high. Suggest 2-3 hours at a heart rate that’s 70-80% of max (perceived rate of exhaustion level 4). If you're unfamiliar with the Perceived Rate of Exhaustion scale see separate post.

In addition two short sessions of 45-75 minutes at a higher intensity. The club turbo sessions will be designed to be complimentary to these needs. Details of the club tubo sessions will be in another blog post on this site.