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How to increase your bike power over winter

As we mentioned in our earlier video for the majority of triathletes, the biggest gains to be made over winter – in terms of overall time improvements, are from focused bike training.

In this video Coach Rob talks more specifically about how to improve your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) – i.e. the maximum power (measured in watts) you can sustain for a 60 minute period.

Team Oxygenaddict is currently closed to new members. We will be open to limited number of new athletes in mid January for a short time.

If you’re interested in joining Team Oxygenaddict click below to be added to our waiting list – you’ll be the first to know when we reopen and be offered the chance to join before anybody else. 

 

At Team Oxygenaddict we have a lot of experience of improving our athletes’ FTP. Several of our already strong bikers saw FTP improvements of more than 10% over the winter period, which – no surprise – resulted in significant PBs when it came to race season.

So – we know how to do it. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that there’s no silver bullet. It requires hard work and commitment to a series of tough sessions on the turbo.

Going out riding with your friends will help your base endurance, but is not an effective way to build your FTP. That requires targeted training sessions slightly above, slightly below or at the level of your threshold power.

To start with, you need to know what your FTP is by completing an FTP test.

With this number to hand, Team Oxygenaddict athletes are them prescribed a series of bike training sessions. Typically there are 3 sessions per week.

Two of those sessions will be turbo based (no longer than 60 minutes in duration), with the third a slightly longer, lower intensity outdoor ride – weather permitting! The 2 turbo sessions should be treated as your key bike sessions of the week. You’ll need to be ready to work hard, but the rewards are more than worth it!

The indoor sessions will typically have a warm up, 30-40 minute main set focused on riding close to your FTP (just below, just above or at it – depending on the set).

An example set, after an appropriate warm up, would be 6 repetitions of 5 minutes at 100% FTP with a 1 minute rest in between each repetition.

While 1 minute to recover in between reps might not sound like much, but assuming the FTP you’re riding to is accurate you’ll be surprised at how well you’re able to recover in that relatively short space of time. That said, the 6th and often even 5th rep of this set can feel very challenging. Don’t worry – it’s meant to 🙂

The second of these 2 key bike sessions might focus on riding in a big gear. The aim is to simulate the feeling of hard work but low cadence that you get when riding up steep hills. For our athletes not used to such riding we make sure to introduce these sessions gradually. And that’s important – as if you’re not used to this sort of riding it can increase the risk of injuries.

Introducing indoor big gear sessions means that when you start riding outdoors again, your ability to ride up hills will have significantly improved. This is because you’ll be used to pushing a high power at a low cadence – exactly what’s required for riding hills!

Towards the end of winter we typically introduce ‘sweetspot’ bike sessions – usually replacing one of the FTP based sessions. The main set of a sweetspot session normally involves riding at around 90% of your FTP.

Many of our athletes who haven’t done sweetspot training before often struggle with the concept. “Why ride below FTP when I’m capable of riding at FTP? Won’t I progress further by riding at 100% of my FTP?”

Well – when riding at your sweetspot, you can ride for longer. So typically it’s very challenging to ride for more than 30 minutes across a 60 minute set at 100% of your FTP. But it’s relatively easy to ride for 2 x 20 minutes (occasionally even 3 x 20 minutes is possible)  at 90% of your FTP. So you’re accumulating more work and building fitness while working at a slightly lower intensity.

Remember – while sweetspot efforts are less effort than FTP efforts, they are still a higher intensity than you’ll be riding in a 70.3 or iron distance race. And – these sessions will still contribute to FTP improvements for Olympic and sprint distance racers.

If you structure your winter bike training like we do in Team Oxygenaddict you’ll be amazed at the improvements you make – we guarantee!

Winter Training for the Time-Crunched Triathlete

The season is almost over. Days are getting shorter, the weather is getting worse and so for a lot of people training time is becoming limited and requiring that extra bit of motivation.

At this time of year our athletes are planning for next season and starting to think about winter training – with a greater focus on indoor training than outdoor. As such we get asked the same type of question on this a lot:

“How do I make the best use of my training time over winter”

It’s a great question. With time at a premium, and training over winter naturally becoming more about an hour here and an hour there it’s important that you make every session count.

In the video below Coach Rob explains Team Oxygenaddict’s philosophy of winter training to ensure you see the biggest overall improvement in your triathlon performance come race season.

Team Oxygenaddict is currently closed to new members. We will be open to limited number of new athletes in mid January for a short time.

If you’re interested in joining Team Oxygenaddict click below to be added to our waiting list – you’ll be the first to know when we reopen and be offered the chance to join before anybody else. 

For the majority of triathletes, the area where most gains (in terms of time improvements) are to be had is on the bike.

A lot of coaches talk about the ‘traditional’ approach of building your base fitness through riding long, slow miles. And – if you have the time (and weather!) to do that, it’s still a great focus for your bike training over winter.

However… Most age-group triathletes are busy – balancing work life, family life and training. The shorter, colder days naturally mean less time realistically available to train in any given session.

The winter focus that more often than not reaps the biggest rewards come race season is increasing your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) on the bike. By increasing your FTP over winter, when you transition to more outdoor riding in the spring, you’ll be able to ride faster for the same effort. And this will translate into material improvements over all race distances.

The good news – we know what you need to do to increase your FTP. We’ve countless examples from our athletes from last winter of significant FTP improvements – many from athletes who were already strong bikers with relatively high FTP numbers.

The bad news – it’s hard work 🙂 But as long as you’re prepared to work hard and commit to some intense turbo sessions you’ll reap the rewards. And, start seeing a noticeable difference in as little as 4-8 weeks.

Onto swimming…

This is the area that a lot of triathletes feel they need to focus on most because it’s their weakest discipline. If you’re a “middle of the pack” swimmer or better it’s tempting to aim to become a “front of the pack” swimmer by swimming 3-4 times per week and knocking a few minutes off your swim time.

In our experience however it’s our experience that by reducing swimming down to once per week you’ll see little-if-any drop off in your swim times.

So you need to be asking yourself – is the 2-3 hours per week that’ll save me, better spent elsewhere. e.g. if I used this time each week to improve my bike power further, will I see time improvements greater than those I would have seen in my swim time?

Almost always the answer is yes.

If however you’re more of a beginner swimmer and are worried about making the swim cut-off time, the winter is the ideal time to improve your stroke and technique through specifically targeted swim drills. After all – your biking ability is irrelevant in a triathlon if you don’t make it out of the swim in time.

And in terms of running…

It’s tempting to assume you need to be going hard and doing lots of tempo / interval sets, cross country races etc.

But actually we find that if your bike focus is on building power, then running steady and often is the most effective run training. Your cardiovascular system will be developing from bike training, which translates into top-end run ability. The focus from run training therefore should be to develop your running mechanics – strengthening ligaments, tendons and run-specific muscles. And this is done most effectively by running steady and often over winter.

As winter turns to spring and your biking focus moves towards endurance and away from top-end power, you’ll have the strength, fitness and run durability to start to increase your running intensity without risking injury. And with the majority of triathlete injuries caused by running, this is an important consideration!

Again – we’ve seen many Team Oxygenaddict athletes smashing their run PBs this year, when the majority of their run-specific training hasn’t been speed based. Our team members never cease to be amazed by how well bike fitness and ability translates to running speed and ability!

 

Race Report from Alan Gar – Ironman Vichy

Here’s what Team Oxygenaddict member, Alan Gar, had to say about his recent exploits at Ironman Vichy!

Over to you Alan…

So here’s my overdue report on IM Vichy – having just returned from a week of er…recovery (mostly involving carbs, wine, cheese and chocolate!).

It was my first Ironman and I found myself on a panicked Skype call with Rob the week before, not entirely sure how I was going to get on. In spite of the heat in the few days leading up to Sunday, the whole family had a whale of a time, kids taking part in the Ironkids run and Mrs Gar in the Iron Lady run. It showed there’s at least some talent in the family as the boy child was just beaten into 2nd place in a stacked teenage category!).

Final preparations did not quite go to plan. When I arrived on the morning of the big day I realised I’d left all of my nutrition (Chia Charge bars and 33shake sachets) in the fridge back at the house! Move on and roll with the punches!

It was clear from early on that wetsuits would be disallowed due to the warm water; which meant that my main race ambition of breaking an hour for the swim was out the window (because I’m lazy and I don’t kick I swim a lot quicker in a wetsuit). There was a lot of mucking about and broohaha over the wearing of swimming suits over tri suits (no two layers on top) and some disqualifications of pros and AGs over this. In the end, I wore the trusty budgie smugglers underneath with a full Sailfish swimsuit on top, which meant a full kit change in T1; this actually worked out ok even if I was a bit slower.

Swim – 1:04, but I was relatively happy with that for a non-wetsuit swim. I was a bit annoyed with the seeding timings and a tip for others: I went in the 56-59 min group and wasn’t passed by a single person; I spent the whole swim passing others and couldn’t draft off anyone ahead of me. Next time: make like everyone else and be severely optimistic on the times in the hope of catching some feet ahead!

The thing I’m most proud of: a 10 from the judges (the kids) for my show off run and dive at the start of the 2nd lap on the swim, great fun!

Next lesson learned: get a new/working bike computer! I rode two days before and all worked perfectly; having trained with power and cadence all the way through, it was unsettling when the thing froze and I couldn’t get it working again. As a result, I whizzed round the first lap (went way too hard for me) and had to scale back significantly on the 2nd lap when the wind and rain came. A dark and lonely 20kms when the wind was pushing my deep dish wheels and people were flying past me.

I eventually got my head right and rode strongly through the rain to finish the bike in 5:33, but a significantly slower 2nd lap with a “variety” of unknown and hitherto untried nutritional options tried out for the first time! Don’t try that at home kids…

It was a slowish T2 but I started the run well and confident of being able to run under 4:15-ish to break 11 hours…until…the wheels fell off!

The first of the run was OK in just over 2 hours but my trusty run/walk was becoming more walk/run. I just didn’t have any strength/power in the legs, My heart rate was fine but I just didn’t have it in me. It became a lot hotter and I just started throwing whatever was available at the aid stations down my gullet in an effort to kickstart the legs. The 2nd half marathon became one long cramp management exercise as the run turned into the longest/worst marathon of my life. Needless to say, I finished but the 11hour mark went by me quicker than Harry Wiltshire.

A 4:46 marathon meant a finish time of 11:33. In line with expectations but a bit annoyed with myself as it could have been a lot better!

Many thanks to Rob and all of my Team Oxygenaddict teammates for the program and support- let’s see what 2017 brings!

 alan-gar-vichy2 alan-gar-vichy1

What is Functional Threshold Power (FTP)?

Coach Rob explains what Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is, how it’s measured using a power meter, and what to do with your FTP number when you know it.

FTP is essentially the power, in watts, that you could reasonably sustain for an hour in a race situation. It enables the calculation of different power ‘zones’ to train in for different types of fitness.

Heart rate data can be used as a proxy for threshold power – it won’t give you the pin-point accuracy that a power meter will, but it’s better than nothing!

We are a big fan of power meters – yes – they are expensive (but getting cheaper every year) but in terms of ensuring accuracy and consistency in training, there’s no better investment in our opinion

Watch the video below for much more detail.

 

Do you have any triathlons coming up? Download our “ULTIMATE TRIATHLON RACE DAY CHECKLIST”. You don’t want to risk forgetting any crucial bits of kit, right? 😉

REMEMBER: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more training & racing tips and tricks! Just click the ‘like’ buttons at the top right of this page…

Zone 2 bike training for long distance triathlon

We often get triathletes asking us about lower intensity, or aerobic  bike training.

Should I really be doing it when training for 70.3 or Iron distance triathlons?

Would I not be better to go harder to maximise the training effect for the limited bike training time I have?

Coach Rob explains the purpose of lower intensity Zone 2 rides, the impact it has on fat burning, and why that’s useful for longer distance races.

Do you have any triathlons coming up? Download our “ULTIMATE TRIATHLON RACE DAY CHECKLIST”. You don’t want to risk forgetting any crucial bits of kit, right? 😉

REMEMBER: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more training & racing tips and tricks! Just click the ‘like’ buttons at the top right of this page…

Periodised bike training for half / ironman triathlon

Specific to 70.3 and iron distance triathletes, coach Rob discusses how to balance the need to improve power while still building endurance.

The ‘inverse pyramid’ philoshopy used in Team Oxygenaddict and explained by Rob helps our athletes optimise training for both power and endurance.  By focusing on threshold / hard FTP work, lower intensity endurance building and sweetspot training at specific times of year you’ll be in the best bike shape possible come race day.

Do you have any triathlons coming up? Download our “ULTIMATE TRIATHLON RACE DAY CHECKLIST”. You don’t want to risk forgetting any crucial bits of kit, right? 😉

REMEMBER: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more training & racing tips and tricks! Just click the ‘like’ buttons at the top right of this page…

The pros (and cons) of riding with aero wheels

Coach Rob discusses the pros and cons of using aero wheels in our latest video.

Can they *really* make that much of a difference to your bike speed?

How badly will bike handling be compromised?

And is it worth the trade-off?

Watch and listen to Rob explain below.

 

Sweetspot intervals & their importance in 70.3 & Ironman training

Sweetspot bike training is all about riding just below your functional threshold power.

Listen to Coach Rob explain why these sessions are important and how / when to factor them into your bike training

Do you have any triathlons coming up? Download our “ULTIMATE TRIATHLON RACE DAY CHECKLIST”. You don’t want to risk forgetting any crucial bits of kit, right? 😉

REMEMBER: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more training & racing tips and tricks! Just click the ‘like’ buttons at the top right of this page…

What percentage of FTP should you ride in different distance triathlons?

In Coach Rob’s latest video he explains what percentage of your functional threshold power (FTP) you should aim for on the bike in at race distances from sprint right through to iron-distance triathlon.

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Do you have any triathlons coming up? Download our “ULTIMATE TRIATHLON RACE DAY CHECKLIST”. You don’t want to risk forgetting any crucial bits of kit, right? 😉

REMEMBER: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more training & racing tips and tricks! Just click the ‘like’ buttons at the top right of this page…

How to pace the bike leg of a hilly triathlon

In our latest Q&A video, coach Rob covers a topic important to anybody racing a hilly triathlon: How to make sure you don’t bike too hard on the hills to save enough of your legs for the run.

Watch the video below for Rob’s advice…

Do you have any triathlons coming up? Download our “ULTIMATE TRIATHLON RACE DAY CHECKLIST”. You don’t want to risk forgetting any crucial bits of kit, right? 😉

REMEMBER: like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more training & racing tips and tricks! Just click the ‘like’ buttons at the top right of this page…