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Thread: Training Advice

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    Training Advice

    Hi guys,
    I'm 17, female and started cycling last year...I joined a club at a local velodrome a couple of months back, and started grass track racing too...I managed to claim a national title in the grass track omnium champs (scratch, sprint, pursuit) which felt good, and I decided to give the track nationals a go, much to my dissapointment I was lapped in the points and scratch, and came last in both the sprint and pursuit. The sprint was more a case of pressure...I really messed up my flying lap, I followed the wrong line and just, screwed up my chances, so I didn't qualify, but this was only my 2nd flying lap on the track, so I guess its just experience.
    The girls my age, that were competing have years more experience than me, some of them even had world titles....but I entered for experience, and I certainly got that! Along with a kick to train harder, and the determination and drive to make sure I catch up with those girls!

    This next part is going to sound quite crazy...

    When I started cycling, I was inspired by Victoria Pendleton, I was watching her race the Keirin at the 2012 Olympics and I had one of those 'gut feelings' that this is what I wanted to do...so I started cycling, training on the road, doing TT's and a few local crit races, just to build fitness and gain experience, and then progressed to track. I'm still focused on sprinting however, the sprint events are the ones that interest me most, in track...and the ones I feel, given the opportunity, I could do well in. I always enjoy sprint training, or at least embrace the pain of the short, 110% sharp efforts, rather than riding hard for hours on end...I just feel like sprinting is 'my thing'.

    However, the reason this all sounds crazy is because I'm 5ft 7, I have long legs...and I'm pretty skinny (53kg). Every coach that looks at me automatically puts me in the endurance category, several times I've been told 'no offence, but you're never gonna be a sprinter'...without actually seeing me sprint, or wanting to help me with my sprint, people just assume and I end up entirely focused on endurance riding.

    I understand in reality, to be a sprinter you have to have a high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres, and at the moment, I am lacking that...but I've not even been cycling for a year yet, and I know I can build on that, I'm willing to put in the work, to build muscle, weight train, and just focus on sprinting, but I'm just not sure what, specifically, training-wise I need to be doing?

    I still plan on racing in Crit's, and the shorter Scratch races on the track, I enjoy the short intervals of speed, and the tactics...but I want to be a sprinter, and I plan on doing everything possible, and more, to prove I can be!

    I sound like a dreamer, I know...but I'm not just dreaming about it, I want to take this seriously, and I realise, 100% that if I want to be a sprinter, I'm going to have to be completely focused on it, and train specifically, and give it everything I have.

    Thing is...I don't know what training I'll benefit from most? And I wondered if anyone had any suggestions of exercises I need to do? Weight training ideas etc

    I'm determined to prove people wrong, and myself right. I'm sorry this was so long!

    Hope you can help

  2. #2
    JMR
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    Hi GC,

    My suggestion would be to find a good cycling coach, and get some power testing done on a Wattbike or similar.

    Once you have done the testing, they should be able to tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are. It sounds like the coach you have is really just guessing what kind of rider you are from your physique and/or previous results.

    Unfortunately though, if the testing shows that you are more suited to endurance type track events, there is little you can do to drastically change this... so if you are "built" for enduro, you are (in my opinion) best to work on this strength.

    But get the testing done, so you know for sure!

    Hope this helps.

    JMR

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    Most coaches didn't believe Pendleton that she was a sprinter, obviously she proved them all wrong!

    The power testing can only help, but coaches and power meters can be costly (even the use of a Watt bike or similar).
    And, what works for guys on this forum may not work for you, many people spend many seasons sorting their training 'schedule' out. Everyone is different.

    Lastly, as JMR said, if you're just not built for sprinting, training will only get you some of the way there - it can't change your genes.

    Sorry if it didn't make sense, I re-wrote it a couple of times... And if you're set on sprinting are thinking about weights (as you mentioned in your post), everyone recommends the book 'Starting Strength'. I believe it was written by Mark Rippetoe? I haven't read/used it, but everyone else says it gives a good foundation to weight training.
    Epic/Tarmac/Langster Pro

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    From your coach's point of view:

    It's easer (and more fruitful) to train your strengths than it is to train your weaknesses. Think of the approach being: Be unbeatable in certain areas while doing your best to shore-up your weak areas so that they are not exploited by opponents. But, don't spend precious time and energy trying to convert an apple into an orange.

    So, seek to find out to which events you are predisposed, which is we are mentioning wattbike testing. But, you can also see this in your race results against your peers.

    From your point of view:

    Think about what you want (and do not want) from this sport. Understand that the bigger your goal is, the longer it will take to achieve.

    Many track racers start off as "enduros" and later become "sprinters" and vice-versa. Look at Jennie Reed (USA). She was the USA's top female sprinter for years. She won a World Championship in the Keirin (beating Pendleton) in 2008. In 2010 she converted to being an "enduro" and had continued success including world records and an Olympic Silver Medal.

    If your coach is good at his job, then maybe listen to him.

    I have a friend who was a competitive middle-distance runner in highschool and college. That's where his physiology was pre-disposed. As a generally untrained masters racer, he excelled at middle-distance track races (3-10KM). He really wanted to be a sprinter, so he started lifting lots and focusing on sprinting. He never got under 12.3" (a respectable time for a local racer, but not National which is what he aspired to be).

    Be open to resetting your goals. Victoria Pendleton is no doubt an inspiring woman...but so is Laura Trott

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    One of the beautiful things about being in track racing, is we can take a long build. Most road racers' careers are over when they hit 30. But there are people winning track worlds up near 40 years old. So you do have that in your advantage.

    There other thing to look at, would you be happy with your racing life if you are the fastest sprinter at your local track? Would you only be happy if you are middle of the field at nationals? Would you only be happy with a National jersey? Or would you only be happy with a rainbow jersey?
    If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him

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    I'll take a crack at this, as it seems the OP really wants to sprint whether she looks the part or not:

    I'm also a bit small for a male sprinter, about 175 pounds and 5'10", and I did roadracing as a young guy, so I can feel where you're coming from. Of course, getting a coach is the best advice, but there are a couple of things you can do to help yourself along in any case.

    The big difference between a sprinter and an enduro is the explosive power and strength the sprinter has. The first time I did a keirin, I could not go with the very quick changes of speed. This is natural for some, but it definitely can be trained.

    Basically, you must train explosive accelerations from a variety of speeds. This starts with a standing (and seated) start. This is a specific and very technical effort that takes *practice* to be good at. I try to practice them once a week. Getting someone to watch you is very helpful. The single best cue for me was "eyes up"! Look halfway up the track straight ahead in turn one as soon as you get in the gate (holder) and do not move your eyes from this spot. DO NOT look down at your front wheel! Point your chin at turn one.

    Then you need to work jumps from walking speeds on up to 35mph+. These efforts are just a few seconds really, you'll sometimes hear things mentioned like "6 second power", and that's what this is-- all-out anaerobic accelerations, no holding back. It takes practice and time to truly pour 100% effort into these, and once you can do it, you do not want to do too many, and you want total rest between efforts. I would not recommend working these more than once a week.

    An effort I like that is easy to do on the track or on a roadbike on a flat stretch a former coach called the "double kick". Easily roll yourself up to about 20 mph, very easy and loose, then suddenly blast a jump for all your worth up to about 90% of your top speed, then shut down and float on that for a few seconds, then give another 100% effort up to as fast as you can go, and the second you start to fade, shut down. Do not go lactic, you are just training explosion. This is a great one that teaches you to be able to jump twice, and get quiet in between, which is a valuable skill. It's useful to do these both standing and seated.

    For all out top speed, you'll want to do some motor pacing, on the track. This will require an experienced pacer which may or may not be hard to find, but is absolutely the best at working the very top end of your acceleration. If a pacer is not available, you can use another rider-- do a Flying 200 behind your friend, give him/her about three bike lengths. At about the 100 meter mark, run up into the draft and come around over the top. This is basic stuff, but it's a very useful way to work the top end.

    There's a lot more than this, but if you do starts, double kicks, and motor pacing in addition to some basic fitness stuff and lactic tolerance work, you'll be surprised at the gains you can make.

    In the gym, I agree that "Starting Strength" is a great resource. But after you've been working that program for a few months, you should pick up the next book in the series, "Practical Programming", and pay special attention to the section on Dynamic Efforts-- these are explosive lifts with lighter weight, and I found that once a strength base has been achieved, the dynamic efforts really helped my jump.

    This is very, very basic stuff, but I think you'll find it helpful. And-- get plenty of rest. This stuff is very deeply taxing. You can easily over-do it and find yourself going slower, especially with the weights. Many people I know seem to do too much weight training, and I have definitely suffered from this myself. When in doubt, do less or add a rest day.

    Good luck! Keep us up to date with your progress.

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    I, too, will take a crack at this. I commend you on you passion, drive, and, most of all, on getting out there and competing. While most of the people on this forum, I assume, have some track racing experience, I don't. That said, I've been trolling this and other forums for a while trying to learn all I can about cycling and the various subtypes within. I've probably got approx 75,000 lifetime miles under my belt - over 98% of which have been on paved roads (and most of that commuting miles). The first ~30K were when I was 20-23yo, and the rest was 20 years later after 2006. My interest in cycling has steadily grown since taking it up again in 2006. I upgraded equipment, branched out trying some single speed, cross, fixed gear, and MTB. I got a powermeter in 2010 to add some spice to my passion / see "how I measure up". I tried my first group riding in 2011 and have continued to do some ever since. Track riding is a goal of mine (I'm about an hour or so from T-town) hence my trolling of this forum.

    I don't think you're crazy for wanting to be a sprinter (if it's any consolation, I'm a psychiatrist so I know a little bit about crazy!). I, too, love sprinting but perhaps for a different reason than you. I like it because I'm no fan of suffering. High intensity riding over 5 minutes starts equating to suffering with me but I can enjoy doing short efforts all day long. Like you, I'm probably not genetically predisposed to be best at sprinting (BTW, you cannot "train" MORE fast twitch fibers, you've either got (a lot of) them or you don't). I'm 5'6", ~150lb (when lean and mean!), hardly your typical track sprinter type (perhaps a miniature version?). Based on my power profile, I'm probably a "puncheur" or "all arounder" or something in between. My power/weight and endurance are respectable for my age so I can hang alright with the climbers. My ability to hold near threshold while getting aero makes me alright on the flats (TT efforts or pulls). But where I excel most (at least compared to other riders on strava or group rides) is on short climbs / rollers where I can sprint up all or most of the way (climbs or rollers that last 90 seconds or less). I also seem to carry a decent number of "matches" in my reserve as I can do the bursts over and over on longer rides as long as I get some recovery between efforts (you know, groups rides when the hammerheads like to crank it up over and over).

    All I've worked on, observed, and learned about my strengths/weaknesses/passions so far has been on the road, not the track. I'm learning that track cycling is a different beast (mostly from trolling on bikeforums). I'll know better, once I actually get on the track. I'm looking forward to actually trying the track and fully intend to take some lessons / get some coaching (I think it's mandatory before they'll let a noob on the track). Since there are plenty of short events in track cycling, I'm hoping that something will play to my strengths and not equate to too much suffering. I agree with some of the previous replies - that it all depends on what your goals are - and, I would add, the goals of your coach/team, if applicable. I intend to do my best to learn, be open minded, and try everything when I eventually do get on the track. The beauty of it all, is that even if I go after a discipline that isn't my coaches top recommendation, I'm sure I'll still learn something, have fun, and develop as a cyclist and human being.

    I, sadly (to some degree), am one of the many people in this world who can identify with the saying "youth is wasted on the young". You, however, seem to be a shining example of the "carpe diem" spirit. Keep up the good work.
    Last edited by ephin; 09-06-13 at 01:57 PM.

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    In response to above, when I stated that sprinting ability could be trained, I was not suggesting that sprint training will develop a greater ratio of fast to slow twitch muscle fibers. That is obviously something you're born with and no amount of jumps or starts will change your DNA. Sprint training and weight training will improve your fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment, allowing you to make the best of what your parents gave you.

    Now, anybody else have any Training Advice (the title of this post, by the way) for this young lady?

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    Senior Member billh's Avatar
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    "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one" JD Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, 1963

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    Quote Originally Posted by ephin View Post
    (BTW, you cannot "train" MORE fast twitch fibers, you've either got (a lot of) them or you don't).
    No disrespect meant, Dr Ephin, but while i would agree absolutely that your genetic predisposition is not changeable, some types of muscle fibre are a little more plastic than the others, and as such youcan train 'more' fast twitch fibres - in that you can tip the conditioning of these intermediate fibres (IIA) from endurance to speed, or vice versa, depending on your training. These muscle fibres will adapt in the direction you are stimulating them, for sure.

    So while your type I (slow twitch) and IIa (fast twitch) fibres are predetermined, there're definitely those IIb's(the plastic ones) to play with. So i agree totally that you cannot train or will yourself into being what you are genetically not, but you certainly can improve your position with the right training.

    And its not just down to fibre type, but neural conditioning too. (i.e teach your nerves to tell your muscles what to do and how quickly)

    But like Babypuke pointed out, what about the training advice?

    Girlcyclist, i'm only a year and a bit on the track, having I've come from an endurance background (6 years of double century road events under my belt, and a heck of a lot of mountain biking.), and the advice that I was given from a bunch of different directions was; work on leg speed, and practise 500m sprints and standing starts. This being because i could hang with the big dogs when i got up to speed, but my kick was not great, so getting there was the problem, rather than staying there.

    I'll never be a pure sprinter (as much as it really does appeal to me, too), but the 500m's and standing starts have made a real difference in my ability, (i,ll go out on a limb here, and without muscle biopsy to back me up, i'll even suggest they have made a difference to my physiology). My kick is significantly better, and I even took the win a little while back in an interprovincial (we have provinces, not states) Keirin in my category. and Keirin is typically a sprinters thing.

    So, for what its worth, i recommend to you what was recommended to me - practise your standing starts, (ideally have someone experienced watch you and give you feedback and guidance), and your 500m sprints.

    Good luck and keep us posted!!

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    My comment about genetic makeup of fast twitch to slow twitch was meant to address the OP's statement "to be a sprinter you have to have a high proportion of fast twitch muscle fibres, and at the moment, I am lacking that...but I've not even been cycling for a year yet, and I know I can build on that" - not anything Baby Puke or Velocirapture had said. As for "training advice", my words were meant to be more of encouragement, support, and respect than specific training advice on track sprinting (of which I have only "trolling" peripheral knowledge and zero actual experience). I identified with her liking and wanting to be a better sprinter despite not having the classic "look".

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    Terminology clarification: 500 meter efforts are not jumps or sprints, that's a power effort. Still something that you definitely need to do, but a jump in training for a sprinter usually means an effort of around 100 meters, pure, all-out explosiveness, definitely an effort of less than 10 seconds. 500 meters is getting into long speed or sprint endurance territory, 25-30 seconds of work. By all means, you need to train this too, but this area is also necessary to train for the enduro people, so it's a bit of a cross-over area.

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    This pops up every once in a while and it's a very good look at an over-all plan for sprint training.

    http://www.aboc.com.au/Members/carl/...-for-sprinters

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    Brown Bear, Sqrl Hunter Jaytron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
    This pops up every once in a while and it's a very good look at an over-all plan for sprint training.

    http://www.aboc.com.au/Members/carl/...-for-sprinters
    Now that I've stalked your blog, I recognize you. You were doing team sprint practice with Lee right? With the White Oak kit?
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    Yeah, that's me, stalker!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
    Yeah, that's me, stalker!


    See you out there today, good luck!
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    Nice! You looked good in the team sprint today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
    Nice! You looked good in the team sprint today.
    Thanks! You guys looked awesome!

    /threadjack
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    Sorry for the slow reply! Thank you everyone for your advice, really appreciate it, it means a lot and its interesting and good to know the different ways I can achieve this, so thanks again!

    I've come up with a plan based on the advice I've been given on here, and research I've done:
    This is for the 'base' period of my plan, which the aim is to get stronger, flexibility, build explosive, and aerobic endurance.

    MONDAY: Flexibility: Yoga and Pilates
    TUESDAY: Recovery ride AM, Standing starts (2sets, 5 reps: 5 mins rest between reps, 10 mins between sets. Double Kick PM (3sets 2reps (1 seated, 1 standing)- 7 mins recovery between reps, 12mins between sets)WEDNESDAY: Plyometrics Session AM (following some 'beginners' workout videos to begin with) Track Skills session PM
    THURSDAY: Cyclocross Training- Its a tough workout with a local club, lots of sprints, small amount of running/up hills, short and fast but painful! I figured this will help with my bike handling skills, aerobic, and it means I can get competitive since there are a lot of others riding.
    FRIDAY: REST (Off the bike completely...maybe a swim)
    SATURDAY: 2-3 hours on the road, using only smallest gears, literally spinning to improve cadence and pedal technique. Jumps PM, 6 seconds all out from walking pace (3sets: 1 set up a steep hill, 1 set on flat, 1 set on slight downhill: 3reps: 2 standing, 1 seated)
    SUNDAY: Gym: I'm working alongside a strength coach at the gym who has agreed to build me a programme based on explosivity and a little core/upper body work.

    Feel free to criticise/give feedback on this, I plan on following this plan for 6 weeks then moving onto a 'build' period and working on longer sprints, and intervals etc.

    Again, thanks for all the advice everyone!

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    Hey GirlCyclist,

    My first thought when I saw this was that it's too much. For sprinters, you have to emphasize quality over quantity as a general concept, and you must remind yourself that training itself does not make you faster, it's the rest and recovery when your body adapts to that training that actually makes you faster. I think you might want to reduce your workload a little and add another complete rest day. Also, this is the off season, and you are young, two good reasons to keep it lighter so as to avoid burn-out.

    Some specific comments on your plan:

    MONDAY: Flexibility: Yoga and Pilates

    -nothing wrong with that, but you might want to schedule this after your hard training is done. In general, in a weekly "micro-cycle" you'll want to schedule things chronologically in order of intensity (highest intensity first, lowest intensity last), starting the first work day when you have recovered from the previous microcycle.
    Basically:
    1.Speed and explosivness
    2.Strength
    3.Endurance

    So first you do things like sprint simulations, double kicks, plyometrics or dynamic efforts in the gym. Next you do starts, big gear work, heavy gym stuff. Next any road rides, lactate tolerance or intervals on the track, the cyclocross you mentioned. *With enough rest and recovery included that you are ready for the next work day and not pre-fatigued. Fast sprinters are fresh and rested, not tired and sore.

    This is not set in stone somewhere, but I've been told this is a generally good way to structure things.

    TUESDAY: Recovery ride AM, Standing starts (2sets, 5 reps: 5 mins rest between reps, 10 mins between sets. Double Kick PM (3sets 2reps (1 seated, 1 standing)- 7 mins recovery between reps, 12mins between sets)

    -This is a hell of a lot in one day, and you've thrown your most intense track workouts into one day. If at all possible I would split the double kicks and starts into two days, preferably with a rest/recovery day in between. Put the recovery ride there instead.

    WEDNESDAY: Plyometrics Session AM (following some 'beginners' workout videos to begin with) Track Skills session PM

    -I would do this as the PM session following an AM session of double kicks as your first day of the cycle. The skills training can be done any time, but preferably laster in the week.

    THURSDAY: Cyclocross Training- Its a tough workout with a local club, lots of sprints, small amount of running/up hills, short and fast but painful! I figured this will help with my bike handling skills, aerobic, and it means I can get competitive since there are a lot of others riding.

    -This will be an intense power workout for you and should be done after you've taken care of your specific track and gym work.

    FRIDAY: REST (Off the bike completely...maybe a swim)

    -Swimming is great.

    SATURDAY: 2-3 hours on the road, using only smallest gears, literally spinning to improve cadence and pedal technique. Jumps PM, 6 seconds all out from walking pace (3sets: 1 set up a steep hill, 1 set on flat, 1 set on slight downhill: 3reps: 2 standing, 1 seated)

    -I would say this road ride is redundant if you are a sprinter and you have done the cyclocross workout already. I would say one or the other, but not both in one week, perhaps alternate weeks.

    SUNDAY: Gym: I'm working alongside a strength coach at the gym who has agreed to build me a programme based on explosivity and a little core/upper body work.

    -This would ideally be combined with your starts day.

    Perhaps a very rough way of grouping the workouts you've indicated here, and I won't say Monday, Tuesday, etc., as maybe they won't fall that way for you:

    Day one: AM track session, double kicks or 100m jumps, PM plyometrics or explosive gym work. DO NOT overdo the plyo!

    Day two: recovery ride (EASY, no hills or sprinting) or 20-30 minutes rollers

    Day three: AM track (or road on a track bike) session seated and standing starts, no longer than 100 meters. Full rest on these. PM heavy gym work.

    Day four: 1-2 hour recovery ride. Easy.

    Day five: (Ideally) Track session- longer power efforts. Flying 500's, flying kilos. Later in the year you may make these very painful by putting a timed rest between them and turning them into lactate tolerance sets, but I think in the winter it's ok to do them at high quality and near full-rest between. If you can't do this, do the cyclocross or road ride.

    Day six: If you were able to do the track power session, you could do the cyclocross or road ride (it should kill you by this point), Otherwise, rest or easy recovery ride, or swimming here would be great. Track skills session ok too, but don't be tempted into making it a hard day! This would be the day where you play it by how you feel. If you are fresh, do something hard, if you feel flat, just swim or do the skills session. You will drop this day like a hot rock as soon as the racing season starts.

    Something like that. To others looking at this, these are definitely not my ideas, but stolen from the coaches I've been lucky enough to have known. And I definitely do not want to imply this is the only or best way to do this, it's just how I've been taught.
    Last edited by Baby Puke; 09-30-13 at 04:22 PM.

  21. #21
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by girlcyclist View Post
    Sorry for the slow reply! Thank you everyone for your advice, really appreciate it, it means a lot and its interesting and good to know the different ways I can achieve this, so thanks again!

    I've come up with a plan based on the advice I've been given on here, and research I've done:
    This is for the 'base' period of my plan, which the aim is to get stronger, flexibility, build explosive, and aerobic endurance.

    MONDAY: Flexibility: Yoga and Pilates
    TUESDAY: Recovery ride AM, Standing starts (2sets, 5 reps: 5 mins rest between reps, 10 mins between sets. Double Kick PM (3sets 2reps (1 seated, 1 standing)- 7 mins recovery between reps, 12mins between sets)WEDNESDAY: Plyometrics Session AM (following some 'beginners' workout videos to begin with) Track Skills session PM
    THURSDAY: Cyclocross Training- Its a tough workout with a local club, lots of sprints, small amount of running/up hills, short and fast but painful! I figured this will help with my bike handling skills, aerobic, and it means I can get competitive since there are a lot of others riding.
    FRIDAY: REST (Off the bike completely...maybe a swim)
    SATURDAY: 2-3 hours on the road, using only smallest gears, literally spinning to improve cadence and pedal technique. Jumps PM, 6 seconds all out from walking pace (3sets: 1 set up a steep hill, 1 set on flat, 1 set on slight downhill: 3reps: 2 standing, 1 seated)
    SUNDAY: Gym: I'm working alongside a strength coach at the gym who has agreed to build me a programme based on explosivity and a little core/upper body work.

    Feel free to criticise/give feedback on this, I plan on following this plan for 6 weeks then moving onto a 'build' period and working on longer sprints, and intervals etc.

    Again, thanks for all the advice everyone!
    Yes. That is way too much.

  22. #22
    Senior Member abstractform20's Avatar
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    *DISCLAIMER*as a below-noob here, i do have a few questions for girlcyclist...

    *Please correct any mistakes and teach me*

    what about your currently flexibility is having a negative affect on your cycling progress (including any anaerobic or aerobic capacity)?

    what exactly does the strength coach have planned (what does your programming look like)?

    im under the assumption that increased strength (how much force you can exert) will increase the potential for power (the rate of force exertion); thus, strength should be developed past a novice stage, with minimal power exercises (olympic lifts, powercleans, power snatches) rarely done, or not added until the end of novice strength development. although there are incredible cyclists that do not use strength training, the inclusion of strength training in their programs, would likely increase their work capacity.

    it is also my understanding that strength takes longer to develop than aerobic conditioning, and decreases at a much slower rate during refrain.

    my understanding is the compound lifts and riding the bike will produce a more than sufficient amount of core strength for riding the bike, but adding in something like planks or ab rollouts could be added.

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