That glorious comment from the fabulous fashion editor of Rooi Rose came through the other day in reference to my post about ego in the morning. She wasn’t alone and there were a few emails about the stuff. Its one of those magic ingredients that I add to all training programs, and have the ever wise Andrew Gowans to thank.
In the end, it all comes down to “Force”. Force is the ability to overcome resistance such as a rider applying power on the pedals. If you develop force on the bike, you will not only be a faster rider, but you will also be able to ride longer and push bigger gears. Improving your force will make you a more powerful rider; thus a faster rider, provided you do not lose leg speed. For example, if you pedal at a cadence of 90 rpm with a 53×17 gear, then you improve your force to be able to push a 53×16 with the same cadence, your speed will jump from 35.6 km/h to 37.8 km/h. That can be a lot of places improved in an international distance triathlon!
The idea behind force training is not to improve the force a fiber can generate, but to recruit more fibers when pedaling. In order to achieve this, body-builders lift heavy weights very slowly to induce a near maximum contraction for a relatively long time. For triathletes, the same principle is applied, but it relates to the specificity of cycling. The best way to generate a near maximum contraction for a long period is to push very big gears at a slow cadence. While staying seated in the saddle when climbing, you will be able to develop even more muscular contraction.
GR = Big Gear / Low Cadence / Low Heart Rate.
One of my favorite workouts is done with a 20min warm-up and then to do 3 x 10minute intervals where I try keep the cadence between 60 and 70 RPM in the biggest gear I can hold at that cadence without pushing my heart rate over 152, which seems to be my magic number. There is 10 minutes rest between each interval as well. This is best done up a long hill, where its easier to keep the cadence down. I try to repeat this session once a week int he build phase (last 6 weeks leading into a important race). It can also be done on the trainer at home if you are diligent enough.
Hope that clears it Giselle.
Please note: Do not attempt any of these sessions if you have knee problems such as patella or ITB (iliotibial band) issues. When doing these sets, focus on maintaining proper form. Avoid excessive upper body movement. Concentrate on efficient pedal stroke technique from what you learn with your isolated leg and dominant leg training drills (another topic). Don’t fall into the realm of mashing the big gears. Developing force will make you a more powerful rider, and therefore a faster rider. It will also make you more economical on the bike, as at a given intensity, you will need a lower percentage of your maximal strength. Eventually, because the bike leg of the triathlon will be easier, you will have more energy when running off the bike, and indirectly, your improved bike strength will also be beneficial to your run.