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Training Got real today.. 🤮

"Unlocking Peak Performance: Navigating the Strength-Endurance Continuum"

I dusted off an old favourite workout for my Dyland MTB class here in Squamish... Scroll to the bottom if that's all you're here for. But if you want to nerd out or pick up on some basic theory, read on!

In the realm of physical exertion, from a single rep to a gruelling 100-mile Ultramarathon, the spectrum of effort is vast and varied.

We're all familiar with the principle that longer durations of exertion require a lower intensity to sustain.

In our on-bike programming, we're familiar with shifting our focus from low-intensity steady efforts in the off-season to more frequent, shorter, intense intervals as race/event season approaches. And we do the same in the weight room. Focus on large sets of low threshold, high-quality repetitions in the early off-season to sharpen our blade for the higher intensity of 85% of max efforts and explosive work in late pre-season.

There comes a point, where Strength and Endurance must intersect and I'd argue that it's better done on cyclical cardio machines than it is in the weight room. There are only so many plyometric movements you can perform before you raise your injury risk unnecessarily.

Exercises like split squats help us develop maximal contractile force, allowing us to apply force to the pedals efficiently. Yet, merely generating force isn't enough; we must also sustain it over prolonged efforts as well as direct our force with coordination and skill for many more repetitions than in the squat rack—a mere few revolutions won't cut it during a ride.

Enter intensity extension efforts, the nexus of strength and endurance. I first encountered a concept of physiological bottlenecks while exploring James Fitzgerald's approach to mixed-modal CrossFit Met-Con workouts. He highlighted the importance of adequate strength and skill on cardio machines for tapping into anaerobic pathways effectively. So here's the big caveat - if you're not strong enough, these may not work for you.

On the Echo Bike:

  • Perform 6 seconds of maximal effort every 3 minutes for up to 8 rounds.

  • Record peak wattage for each round.

  • Conclude the session when unable to maintain within 20% of peak watts.

  • Over 3 weeks, increase effort duration: 8 seconds in week two, 10 seconds in week three, and 12 seconds in week four. Aim to match the peak wattage achieved in week one.

This challenge not only builds strength and endurance but also enhances the ability to sustain repeatable high-intensity efforts—a real Mountain Bikers Super-Power.

Going back to my caveat - how to tell if you're strength isn't sufficient for these to be beneficial? try the workout - it won't hurt. You should notice a spike in heart rate for up to a minute after each effort. If you do not, then either you need to get more proficient on the echo bike, or you need to work on your overall strength. And likely you need both.

If you're interested in getting the most out of this approach to training as well as making sure you're strong enough to express your anaerobic fitness on the bike. You should consider my Performance Program.

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